On The Edge of Twenty-Seventeen

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Did you know me ten  years ago? Ten years ago, I was sixteen (I KNOW). I had long blonde hair, wore Birkenstocks year-round, and listened to Led Zeppelin while cruising in my ’96 Jetta and/or while getting emotional about transcendentalism. You might remember a teal t-shirt in regular rotation announcing “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE”?

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A view of Rabbit Island from the windward (home) side of Oahu

Sitting on the beach the other day after an impromptu post-work swim in the ocean, Ethan and I discovered that we had recently come to the same realization: that we are now living like our sixteen-year-old selves would have wanted us to. 5 states, 7 addresses, 8 hairstyles, 13 semesters of college, and 14 jobs later, the blonde in the Birks is wearing flowers in her hair again and learning to play Stairway to Heaven on harmonica. Ethan is starting to look like a retired something that was sponsored by Volcom, which is the long and short of it.

In the way of updates since my last post, quite a lot has happened:

  • I got a job! For now. I have a contract writing technical manuals for a bank which is exciting because:
    • They pay at a rate of 2 bottles of Kirkland-brand prosecco per hour.
    • The INTP in me is psyched to put commercial loan accounting into logical terms, because it makes the world a safer place for us all (?).
  • Turns out Hawaii is in the technological stone-age, with typewriters, dictionaries, phone books, and carbon copied pages in manila folders kept in file cabinets all in active use. Everyone in Hawaii who has lived anywhere else since 2002 lays awake at night collectively wondering “Do they know about electronic signatures yet??”. I spend a lot of time quivering in office settings these days.
  • We’ve had a lot of firsts lately including trips to the north shore, a volcano hike, a polo match, a chocolate tasting, stand-up paddle boarding, plus we just got snorkel gear and Ethan is learning to body board while fighting the ocean for survival.
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*Cue Jurassic Park Soundtrack*

This past weekend we hiked to Manoa Falls but continued out of the valley, up the Aihualama and Pauoa Flats trails without knowing where they went. A chain of switchbacks, spotted with millions of ochre mud puddles, carved a narrowing corridor through the bamboo forest. It led to the crest of a ridge protruding from the Ko’olau Mountain Range and offered quite the reward for our persistent “lets just see whats ahead” determination. Sometimes the best views are the ones you dont expect, and earn unknowingly.

A moment that stands out to me from our trek isn’t the glory at the end of the trail but rather the storm of sensations in the middle of it. Amid towering stalks of emerald, we paused to enjoy a gust of wind as it swept through the forest and heard a sound unlike anything either of us had experienced. It was guttural. It was fleshy and hollow, ancient and new. My mind jumped to that morning, having tested the safety of our expedition with a lesson from ancient Hawaiians: setting a yellow leaf on the surface of a pool of fresh water to gauge our permission to visit that place. If your leaf floats, you may respectfully proceed. If it sinks, massive jet-black reptilian deities (Mo’o) will protect their custodial lands and waters from you. That morning we watched our leaf zigzag to the bottom of the pool and slip upstream no less…But Our Backpack Was Full of Snacks and We Must Go. John Muir said that.

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Bamboo is actually a grass, so I guess this is what its like to be a bug? Spooky.

Frozen on the trail later that afternoon, we realized that chilling noise wasn’t a 40′ lizard coming to collect atonement, but was the collective percussion of thousands of bamboo stems knocking against one another in the wind. The plants reached high above our heads so the movement took place out of sight on a plane that spread across the forest, creating a haunting a layer of sound. Shama Thrushes called out from their hiding places in the the dense foliage with reassuring song and we proceeded upward, unknowingly onward to the ridge-line view.

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Its hard to effectively describe the sense of wonder this brought, but its all too familiar. The feeling of being momentarily held captive by your senses deep inside something so alive is essentially my raison d’etre after an adolescence spent stunned in New England’s old-growth gems. Getting out and exercising is intuitively incorporated in our life in Hawaii much to my delight. Even something as simple as feeling the ground under bare feet is enough to fill a longing for connectedness with nature that developed over the past few years in the California commute/condo life.

These days I’m nurturing a sense of wildness that I loved about myself years ago and it feels so good. I recommend doing something -even in the slightest way- to make a younger, wilder you proud. Don’t you think that part of you deserves it? I’m proud of the challenges and sacrifices that we made that brought us thousands of miles from home, to meet amazing new people, taste a few more flavors, and witness a wider section of the range of things that compose Life on Earth.

In the spirit of perpetual adolescence, why not make it up to yourself for spending so much time being boring (nothing personal, we’re all boring)? Go skydiving, get a perm, whatever! And as a side note to the adventurers out there: Our futon always has your name on it.

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Keep your boots by the door and champagne chilled at all times to anticipate a life of adventure & celebration.

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