My car needed a good car wash. The dirt and salt air had turned the windows grimy, to the point where it impares your vision when you’re driving, the bright white color had turned grey. Instead of taking it to a car wash, or washing it myself, I decided to drive to where it was raining on the island. See, that’s a real freedom that I will never have again, being 27 and living on a beautiful and mysterious island. But it’s a freedom I actively seeked out, and now that I have it, I have to enjoy it, appreciate it, in the awareness that I won’t always have this. Because that’s life- it’s constantly in flux, I don’t know where it’s leading, but here I am, right now, on a beautiful and mysterious island. So I went. It was Saturday, I had worked my 8-5 job all week, it’s not like I blew off any responsibilites or commitments, I just made a choice of how to spend my time that day, my day off. I could have just gone to the car wash, marked it off as an errand accomplished, and gone onto the next errand right? Laundry maybe? But why, that’s not where my life is right now. I can choose the other option. I love to adventure with friends, and I really love to adventure with significant others, I love to see and share the world with the people I love, but there’s something about the solo adventure, exploring new places alone that shows you what YOU see, and builds up a certain self love within yourself that no family member, or friend, or lover can fufill within you. You discover that you enjoy your own company, you are capable and completely fine on your own, and you feel free, because you know your happieness isn’t dependant upon anyone else. It’s just you and..the world, and you’re free to look and experience it the way you want to. And all your choices become your own- it sounds selfish, but it may be something you need to experience because it’s a kind of true power that establishes you, one that keeps you standing during storms, unable to be knocked down by anyone.
Geographically unique, the Big Island boasts everything from black sand beaches to snow-covered peaks, from hardened lava deserts to steamy and lush rainforests. So at 10 am, in my neighborhood, it could be sunny and hot, exactly like your perfect picturesque summer day, and two hours away it could be raining hard, sixty degrees, so not exactly cold, but a total different landscape and experience than the one that you currently are inhabiting. To someone who enjoys constant change, this ability to be close to something so drastically different than your everyday routine is not only welcomed, but a huge blessing. Driving around the island takes around 8 hours (if you stop at places), but when you do, you will feel as though you just traveled for at least a week. I drove in and out of clouds, through fields of desolete lava rocks that looked like a graveyard, spanning all the way out until it met the ocean where it all blurred together. I drove through rolling hills of gold, hills that feel familiar to me because they remind me of California, of home. I drove around bends and turns underneath a mountain of green, dense jungle. I drove through fog that consumed everything, the road, the scenery, I couldn’t see anything in front of me or behind me. You could pull over and wait for the fog to clear, but you get out of it much quicker if you cautiously creep forward-moving forward doesn’t have to be wreckless or not thought out. Even if you move slow, if you’re eyes are open and you’re present, moving at all means you make your way into something new.
I stopped at Waipio Valley, one of the most beautiful places on the island, in my opinion. When you are standing above it, at the lookout, you are peering down into a place that looks so complex, the depth of it looks like you will never be able to know it all in it’s entirety. That there will always be something unexplored, unknown and mysterious. It draws you in to come back to it over and over again, you’ll never tire of it. Tourists are always gathered at that lookout, taking pictures in front of it and I wonder if they truly are looking at the valley. They are on a schedule I can tell, they have four more spots to get pictures in front of, so they have to rush the moment. They may return back to their family and friends and show them the picture, and everyone will remark on how beautiful Hawaii is from a distance. But I hope that some of them really look. I hope they stand above such a beautiful creation, rapt in awe of it, and they realized suddenly, the simple fact that they’re alive and they get to look at this, witness it, really see it, breathe in the air around it and be thankful that they will be able to take such a moment, a memory, to their grave with them. Because that’s what we really take with us right? Those rare moments in your life where you collide with Earth-and also the moments where you collide with others also inhabiting Earth. Those are the things I’m most interested in collecting, in filling up my soul with, because that’s what I want to take with me when I leave. I feel like when this is all over, those are the things that will matter- not the material things, the shallow things, the surface things that people create to make life easier to live. It’s easier to rush moments, snap pictures and say you saw it than to really truly look at it, and wonder what it means in relation to you.
I stopped in Hilo, which is a very foriegn place to me, known to me really only as “the other side of the Island.” It’s the rainy side and I love the town in Hilo because the city is so run down and dark that it looks like it has a secret history, one that no one will know or write about, it will just remain there in it’s buildings and streets that are slowly decaying and one day may just get lost altogether. Every alley I walk past I would look down because there’s always a random window with someone’s clothes hanging in it, or some mural someone painted on a wall and I wonder about that wall when it was brand new and the person who painted that mural and what it must have looked like before years of rain and weather slowly began to wear it away. I went to the farmer’s market, where I walked down asiles of local food and art and the people who work hard everyday to produce it. I didn’t talk to anyone, or make any new friends, or hear anyone’s story. I just walked around and looked. There was one small Hawaiian man selling sunflowers, and I caught his eye when I snapped a picture of a bucket full of them. I was embarrassed I took a picture and wasn’t buying any and I blushed and said “Thank you,” like he had given me a sunflower for free. The truth is, I would have loved to ask him, “Do you have fields of sunflowers where you live?” I would have loved to know all about them. But I didn’t ask and I don’t know why. Possibly because I don’t want to know if he bought them at Costco and drove them out here to re-sell to tourists for a much higher price.
I ate lunch at a little cafe I stumbled upon, it was one of those gluten free- vegan-organic-everything places with three million trash cans lined up against the wall for all the specific types of waste to be dispensed in and recycled and composted and re-used. Always the biggest stress at the end of the meal because you know the employees are watching you and if you throw your biodegradable plate into the wrong bin people will know you are a phony balogna “earth concious” advocate. I ate some sort of hot dog that wasn’t made of meat (I don’t know what it was made of) and had beets and sweet potatos on it and it was delicious. I went into book stores, I spent my time in the cultural history section and read a few chapters about Japanese calligraphy.
I drove home, in the pouring rain, watching as the water from the clouds washed all the dirt off my windsheild. I drove out of the rain and into the clouds, and out of the clouds and into blue skys and the sun, which was about to set, and yeah,my whole day had been spent wandering around aimlessly to some. But I’m not sure it was entirely aimless.
And my car is so clean now, so mission accomplished.