Today – We Are Moving to Hawai’i

It’s been a long road….I don’t mean the nearly ten years going around the world since I left Hawai’i. I mean the last two weeks…yikes…flying back from Oahu, getting our entire household packed in suitcases, arranged for an estate sale, priced, and advertised (though not very effectively) and then dealing with three days of cheap strangers (or strange people we already knew) offering us rock bottom prices for cherished possessions – because they all knew we were leaving – and then the trauma of giving the things we refused to sell to cheapskate dealers to charity or to our neighbor who helped with the process. We sold my wife’s car, my little trailer, our basketball hoop, the washer and dryer, and a few more things – but mostly at the rock bottom prices you get at the end of the month in a town where the majority of garage salers are waiting for a social security or disability check – and frankly, the sale was a financial failure – but we got rid of all the stuff, cleaned the house, and left a day earlier than planned. After four years in Reedsport – as my wife went to lunch with her friends from work – I realized that I hadn’t really made any friends there – there was no one I really felt the need to say goodbye to. Lots of acquaintances and customers – but that was it. We drove away and made a daytrip up through Eugene stopping to swim in a lake and then touring through Brownsville, having dinner with my mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin in Corvalis, and then drove to Salem where we stayed in a decent hotel. In the morning we looked at the capital, rode the carousel at the Riverfront park, and then drove to Portland stopping to play in the splashpark in Wilsonville and then playing at the Portland Children’s Museum before checking into our hotel next to the airport. The next day, we dropped off Sophia’s Siamese fighting fish with one of my best friends, ate Ethiopian food together and then I parked my VW Vanagon in his backyard before getting dropped off at the hotel. Now it is early morning – we are getting ready to check out of our hotel room and check in for our flight to Hawai’i where our new apartment, new life, and many adventures await us. Here we go!

Changes on Oahu – Is this still my home island?

It feels incredible to be back on Oahu. I love it, I love this island. It has changed though. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. In Kailua, I was virtually the only person who was stopping to let people cross the street…in Lanikai I stopped so a mom with a stroller could cross and the lady behind me gave me a loud mainland kind of honk! Another mom with three little keiki whom she was trying to herd gave me a grateful look when I stopped and motioned for her to go safely…the look felt like she was surprised. I’m sure that the aloha spirit still exists here, but it has a much tougher environment to live in than it did even ten years ago. The apartments I looked at yesterday were all incredibly cramped without much in the way of amenities. One had no air conditioning (and a $100 fine for drips from the window), another had no windows in the living room, another had no yard or outdoor space – and each of them were more than the salary I’ve been offered will cover. The landlords were asking for three times the rent as a minimum income…I can’t show that. I will be able to earn it, but I can’t demonstrate it because much of my income will and does come from writing, book sales, and more. A move here means a move to a very serious rat race and not much chance to improve my family’s finances in the near future. I want the job, but I’m not sure that Oahu is where we are meant to be. A woman across from the hotel is screaming like bloody murder at 6 am. Lots of people looking, but not sure if anyone is helping. I will go down and see. Police arrived…so no need for me to go down now. I hope she is alright.

I took an early morning walk through Waikiki. The homeless and the wretched. They are truly hard to ignore and ultimately, really, should not be ignored – but it’s impossible to enjoy this expensive paradise without ignoring them. So, last night, the crazy man yelling “Fuck you. All of you just go away. Just get the fuck out of here.” I felt compassion for him. The drunk young man passed out against a wall outside a bar at 6 am this morning. The haunted looking homeless old lady staring at the rich passers by who do not notice her. The old Chinese man pushing a stolen shopping cart loaded with cardboard. The tents and homeless camps in every available spot on this island. And the cost to live here, the way it drives those who do not have fantastic income and the sense of entitlement it gives to those who do. All of this is reality. This is the reality of Oahu.

I was unable to determine what happened this morning. My guess is someone died or domestic violence, but either way it was horrid. I checked out and the charges were less than I expected, I didn’t get charged extra for my rental car, and airport security was such a breeze that I’m again 3 hours early for a flight I could have come 2 hours later for…and yet, I feel we have a chance right now…a chance to have a better life. I know that. I know that somehow, we have an opportunity to do something wonderful. I don’t want to miss that.

The changes here…Trump Tower is awful. I miss the old International Marketplace and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts which is now called the Honolulu Art Museum – that’s a bad name change for me and the International Marketplace took something authentic and wonderful and turned it into a big expensive mall. I’ll be honest, I hate it. I miss the old Daiea markets in Kailua and near Ward. I miss Island Air, Aloha Airlines, Go Airlines, and the old interisland terminal. Kailua isn’t affordable – actually, nowhere on this island is affordable. People don’t smile as much. I heard few “Howzit”s and not very many “Mahalos” or “Alohas”. No one under 50 wears an aloha shirt unless they are a tourist or at work. The prices are much more insane than I remembered – except for milk and gas. I’m glad I was here when I was here but I’m not sure at all that this is the place I’ve dreamed of. This morning, I was ready to leave Waikiki. I swam in Kailua once, swam in Waikiki twice, took long walks through Waikiki, chanted at the SGI culture center twice, drank a Kailua Monkey from Lanikai juice, ate a Shogun Dunburi from Ninja Sushi, looked at three rental units, drove quite a few miles and frankly, that was probably enough tourism for me.

A group of Tibetan Monks just walked by. One of them looks a lot like the Dalai Lama. A slightly chubby Dalai Lama. Any way about it – that is a very cool thing. That doesn’t happen in Reedsport. Meditating on compassion and the similarity of all living things. The miracle of the idea that each of us is a miracle. We are all miraculous beings made from star material. I wasn’t crazy about my hotel in Waikiki, but the Buddhism book in the drawer was a comfort and a better companion than the TV and the Bible which one usually finds (it was there too). The monks (I think) are going to Maui. I never felt a huge connection to Maui the island. In my mind, it was always the rich people’s island. Maybe I never gave it the chance it deserves.

There was a strange spectacle walking to the gate. A busty woman sitting in a massage chair – lots of jiggling going on. She was one of those middle aged, ruined skin from the sun, white ladies who look like she could be a biker’s lady. Ever so disturbing and almost impossible not to look at.

The Buddhism book in the hotel, had the passage where the Buddha became the Buddha marked and next to it was Dec 8, 2001 in Waikiki. I was in Waikiki then. I was having dreams of sand castles on the beach Christmas muppet specials and trying to find a way forward in my life. And just think, while I was doing that – someone blocks away at the Ambassador hotel was marking that passage. How very strange.

When I was checking in for this flight, there was some confusion, it said there was another Damitio on the flight. That’s odd. I didn’t find out who it was. That’s never happened before unless it was a Damitio I was traveling with.

So I came to the Big Island of Hawai’i to check out a property and potentially buy it. The property was gorgeous and remote but the house – my wife would never forgive me if I moved her into a house that far out and in that state of a mess. So I can’t do it. Big Island is beautiful, but it seems that Oahu is not done with me. I’ve lived in Kailua, Punalu’u, Waikiki, Lanikai, Punchbowl, and Manoa. Now I get to see what Salt Lake is all about. I’m pretty stoked actually. I’m an archaeologist and moving my family to Oahu. Cool. I am filled with gratitude. I am excited about this life, this new adventure that begins now.

When I moved to Oahu the first time, I managed the Polynesian Beach Club Hostel. After taking care of it while my boss was away, she bought me a trip to the Big Island. Hilo was the first place I went in Hawai’i that wasn’t Oahu. This is more balance because here I am again.