I Have To Be Leaving But I Won't Let That Come Between Us, OK?
If you couldn't tell, I was a little trunky today. We're flying to Hawaii tomorrow morning, and we'll be there for a week, gone to the west side of the Big Island for Kona Time, where Jimmy Buffett never dies. It will be sleepy-time for the blog unless I take over the internet cafe at the Hilton like the doomed lovers in Dog Day Afternoon.
Hawaii isn't just the 50th state--it's an alternate reality. It was one which came upon me steadily, going through Oahu plenty on layovers to and from Asia. That airport kisses you with sultry breezes and shelters you with its palms. You know it's a special place of welcome but you're scared like a virgin in front of an unflappable pro, bashful and stand-offish. You've got your ticket, the schedule is almighty and you've got to go, and as a transit passenger you won't get sucked into the essential vortices of those volcanic islands. Still you know that once you venture out it's like stepping off a cliff and jumping into a cultural whirlpool; in the turbulence and undertows there are big forces you don't understand, your arguments are tossed and aged by waves.
The first time ever I left the airport in Oahu, I was taken on a shopping trip to a Sam's Club near the Rainbows football stadium across from the University of Honolulu. In the electronics section where they had all the TVs, families had the Little Mermaid playing on 20 or 30 synchronous big screens, dads and moms had lawn chairs set up and at least 50 kids were munching on buttered popcorn from plastic bags that were 3 feet high. It was about 2PM local time. I saw it and started laughing, then doubled over and clutched a stack of Izod sport shirts for dear life, coughing like a tuberculitic clerk for a cure.
"What? Are you ok? Are you alright?" Can I get you something," asked my gracious transplanted haoli host. I pointed over to the electronics section, to the most hilarious thing my productive eyes had ever seen. But he had been there too long, he didn't get why I was laughing. It was part of the landscape. "Oh, that. They're just watching movies, and they're always there."
From then on, from the check-out line going back to the car, I was on Hawaii time, and part of me has been ever since. Improbably I met the people who knew Brudda Iz, who had already died when I was there, and this is what he sang:
For all I've been blessed with in my life
there was an emptiness in me.
I was imprisoned by the power of gold,
with one kind touch you set me free.
Let the world stop turning, let the sun stop burning;
let them tell me love's not worth going through.
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart
the only dream that mattered had come true:
In this life, I was loved by you.
In this life, I was loved by you!