Last week I surprised David by taking him to Kaua’i for our (ridiculously) shared birthday. I had him under the impression that we were taking a quick jet down to Palm Springs for the weekend, but as we pulled up to the airport, I told him that at the last moment I had to change our hotel accommodation, and what did he think about this little spot in Kapa’a? It was pretty great.
I drug him up and down the Kuhio highway, from Kekaha to Ha’ena, pointing out my favorite places, gasping at places I had totally forgotten about, and exclaiming at what had bafflingly changed.
It’s been seven years since I lived in Kaua’i, and because I have no children whose growth is a daily reminder that time is a precious, ever-slipping commodity, I was wholly unprepared for the emotions of returning to a sight so familiar but at the same time so changed in the intervening years. It is a strange thing, to see the way that the island has stayed constant, while the human element has quite literally broken against its unchanging shores. The vines still cling to the cliffs at Ha’ena the same way they always have, the waterfalls in Waipio wax in the morning and wane by noon on the same schedule they’ve followed for who knows how many eons, while businesses have boarded up, the blades at your favorite shave ice shacks gone dull, and familiar faces have slipped below the ground. How has it been so long? Wasn’t I just here?
We did some touristy things that were great: we took a helicopter tour around the island, where I took the above picture; we rode up the Wailua to the Fern Grotto, where I almost lost my shit because I suddenly remembered an old Hawaiian song I hadn’t thought of in a very long time.
Mostly, we just sat on the beaches. We watched the sun come up at Kealia, marveled at the terrifying surf at Polihale, swam and collapsed on the sand at Hanalei, and watched the sunset at Kēʻē.
By the time it was time to come back to the mainland, David seemed to have become as thoroughly enchanted by the place as I have ever been. Which is great, because I don’t think I can go another seven years away. It’s hard to put into words, how much I love — love, deeply, eternally, in my bones — those islands.