Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hau Tree Lanai

Honolulu, 2005

   Our table was next to the beach, in an elegant restaurant about a half mile south of Waikiki proper. Our customary dinner for two would be augmented that evening by an old friend, an ex-coworker of mine who had moved here nearly a decade ago to escape the frigid winters of the northern plains. The three of us, in an absolute paradise. A tasteful jazz guitarist played quietly in the background, filling the occasional spaces in our conversation.

   Our guest was quietly stunning in an understated, natural way. Her sparkling eyes reflected the setting sun, her hair, always a bit unruly, was well behaved for once. She declined a glass of wine; she never drank. We spoke a bit about politics, the intensity of her convictions surprised me more than once. We talked a little about the days we worked together, her eyes were fiery then, that was a bad time in both our lives. She spoke of when she first came to Hawai'i- no job, sleeping in a car with a friend- and how she worked her way into a regular job, doing something she loved. "I didn't really have a plan when I arrived," she smiled shyly, "I just had a goal."

   As we ate the sun slowly made its way to the horizion, the beachcombers nearby had already gathered their things; when I turned around I realized that we we almost alone- the waitstaff was clearing up for the evening. We paid our bill, and then walked out onto the now-darkened Kalakaua Avenue, through Kapiolani Park, and then past the Zoo where she worked, and finally, to our hotel.

   Some farewells are harder than others. When the likelihood of never seeing someone again is strong, emotions are mixed. I wasn't too upset; she was the same person that I had once known, I knew that those who knew her now were having their lives brightened, the way she had once brightened mine.

By Professor Batty


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