Friday, January 4, 2013

Home again: Revisiting the North Shore

The small, passenger airplane I was on from Hilo, landed in Honolulu  on a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning exactly one year ago today! It was the perfect weekend to attend an old friend's wedding on the North Shore!

I left my husband and 2 older boys in Hilo, and flew over with my toddler. We rented a car right away, and pulled out of the airport, heading straight into the direction of  Haleiwa town. I was excited about this trip, and had been anticipating it for several months. I hadn't been to my home island of Oahu since my eldest son was a baby, and that was nearly 6 years ago! This was my first time stepping on Oahu soil, after many long years of being away, and I was thrilled to be home. I was also having a really hard time back in Hilo, and needed a break from reality for a few days. I had hoped this trip would also have the potential to help me find some peace of mind.

At first I was completely calm, driving along the quiet streets of Nimitz Highway, past Pearl City and Aiea, and past the exits towards Waianae.....until I saw my turnoff for Wahiawa. That was when I totally lost it.
Tears! Tears starting rolling faster than I could keep up with! My hand flew up like a frantic, windshield wiper in a blizzard, trying to clear the moisture from my blustering eyes, as I soaked in my surroundings. "I am home!" I yelled back to Jonah. He was sitting in his car-seat, happily chewing on a toy. "Mommy is home! Mommy is home!" I shouted again! I was suddenly an overly-excited, hysterical mess, as I started pointing out everything I knew, to my oblivious, 17 month old. 

"There's Mililani, where we used to go to the movies, and Wal-Mart--my friend Amber lives here! This is Wahiawa, where we'd drive through and stop for food, on our way to and from "town". There's Kemoo Pub where we'd go watch live music and dance. There's the beautiful river that runs down into Waialua! And this is pineapple road, that takes us down to the North Shore! That there is the start of Ka'ena point, the mountains we named you after. Isn't it beautiful? If you look at it from this direction, it looks like a pregnant mama lying on her back! And here comes my favorite part, the view I have loved forever!" 

I could feel that same happy feeling coming over me, as I pointed out the gorgeous, panorama of the North Shore coming into view-- the  same feeling I'd get every time I drove back from the other side of the island to my beloved, North Shore. 
"This is the North Shore, baby Jonah!," I shouted out, with the biggest smile on my face!," This is where mommy lived when I was a little girl,  and spent all my growing years!" He smiled back at me, clapping his chubby hands together, happily surprised by all the unexpected excitement.

Instead of taking the bypass road towards Sunset, I detoured through Haleiwa town. The wedding didn't start til 4pm, so I had plenty of time to dawdle, and absorb the memories of my past.

One thing that made me laugh is how small everything seemed to me! That "freeway" I just drove on, was the dinkiest, wusiest excuse for a freeway I've ever seen! 55 mph? Ha! It took me 30 measly minutes just to get to Haleiwa from the airport, something which used to seem like a huge deal back in the day. (I was mostly laughing at my own, small-town-girl mentality, after living in Los Angelos later on in life.....)
Jack Johnson at Haleiwa Joe's, 2001.
Haleiwa seemed smaller than normal, too. Growing up out in Sunset beach meant that coming into Haleiwa town was often the hub of the North Shore-the place where we'd come to eat out, or shop, or do anything besides go to  Pupukea Foodland. Driving through Haleiwa town brought back so many old memories, I could barely contain myself! I pointed out where I used to go to the surf-night-movie-parties at the Christian church, where the Haleiwa carnival set up once a year, where I'd go dancing and listen to live music at Haleiwa Joe's. where I'd dine with friends at Cholos Mexican restaurant, where I'd stop into Waialua Bakery or the Coffee Gallery for smoothies, where I'd wait in line for the best breakfast burritos at Cafe Haleiwa, and of course, where I was a waitress for several years, slinging pizza and beer at Pizza Bob's. 
Shopping with friends in Haleiwa town, 1996
And on and on; the memories just kept flooding in, as the tears kept flooding my rental car. I hadn't realized how home-sick I was!

Moving down the road, I headed  towards Sunset Beach. Since I had plenty of time to cruise,  I took the liberty to drive as slowly as an annoying tourist on a Hawaii vacation.
I was also starting to calm down, emotionally, and looked forward to finding a nice beach to relax on. However, as I drove past Laniakea beach, my hysterical excitement got worse, as I was approaching all my favorite beaches and surf spots!
How could I forget the territorial stomping grounds and playgrounds of my youth?! These were the places where I spent all of my spare time at; the places that offered me happiness, peace, a sense of belonging, and rest from all the worries of the world. 
The ocean became so many things for me over the years. It was the place where I could let- go and feel liberating happiness, yet also shed tears, and regroup from rough times. It was a place to laugh and have fun, yet also a place to meditate deeply and heal my wounded heart. 

Unfortunately, the ocean also became a place to numb myself. Because of it's amazing power to wipe my mind clean, it  became a drug for me. When hard times hit, and I didn't have anyone, or anywhere else to go, I went to the ocean. I let the waves wash over me, and the water consume every crevice of my body, until I was filled with saltwater and sand, instead of anger and hurt. But like any addictive drug, it was a temporary numbing, so when I emerged back into reality, I still didn't feel the peace that I needed .
So, coming back to the North Shore, I felt a little overwhelmed, almost like an alcoholic walking back into a bar for the first time. I could smell the salt water, and feel the temptation lingering over my head! I wanted to jump right in and let the ocean do it's magic, but....I had learned a few things over the years. I now knew that only God holds that power, and only through Him can I escape, finding ultimate healing, and peace, through His mercy and love.  So, although the ocean was my medicine for so many years, I finally  knew that I had moved on. That if times got tough again, I could be happy living in inland Nevada, if I had to, as long as I had God by my side. I needed to see the North Shore again, to know that for sure.

I stopped by the beachside and offered a prayer of thanks to my Heavenly Father for giving me my ocean when I needed it, and for allowing it to heal me when I had strayed so far from Him. 
Thank you for Laniakeas with it's perfect rights, for Chuns Reef, where I spent many frustrating hours teaching myself how to surf.  For Waimea Bay, my second-home for swimming laps, jumping rock, and swimming with dolphins.. Thank you for  Rubber Duckies,  my secret home-spot for catching waves when everywhere else was a crowded mess. Thank you for Three Tables,  the beach across the street from my house where I would go to snorkel and meditate with the fish and sea turtles; where I spent hours playing on the beach with my little dog, Pog.
Thank you for  Sharks Cove, where I snorkeled for hours, and dared myself through underwater caves. Thank you for Keiki beach, where I had the most fun getting womped in the pounding surf,  collecting sea-shells, and spending many nights sleeping peacefully under the star-lit sky. Thank you for Log Cabins, Rock-piles, Backdoor, and Pipeline, where I would go to watch talented surfers ride nature's incredible phenomenons!
Thank you for Ehukais, where I became a Junior Lifeguard, and where I spent years playing in the waves with my best friend-- riding  the glassy, blue sandbars, and swimming under the turquoise sea. 
Junior Lifeguards, Ehukai beach, 1992
Thank you for Pupukeas, where I learned how to surf, and how it changed my life forever. Thank you for  Rocky Point, Monster Mush, Kammie Land, and Sunset Beach, one of the greatest playgrounds ever built for a kid! Thank you for Freddie Land! Enough said! And thank you for beautiful Kawela Bay, a place of refuge and solitude for my soul. 

As I looked out over the ocean and soaked in the scenes before me, I felt sadly homesick; a deep longing for my childhood. I wanted to be a kid again, splashing through the surf, without a care in the world. Yet, I also felt immense peace for where I am right now.  I feel that the North Shore is one of the most beautiful gifts  God has given me in my life,  and I appreciated every day of it.  I love the North Shore, and all it's unique beauty, but I know it's okay to live elsewhere--  I know it's okay to find  beauty in other places and things, and to find peace and happiness through God.

I ended up spending the day with my bestie from high school, and her family, watching the Pipeline Masters surf contest. It turned out to be a busy, active day! The waves were going off, and the energy from the ocean was contagious! Everywhere I visited that day-to Foodland, to my old high school, to the bathrooms at Sunset beach,  I ran into old friends, old acquaintances, old crushes, and even my high school principal. Smiles and hugs were exchanged as people asked, "Where the crap have you been?"  It was like nothing had changed, only everyone looked  older. 

My last stop before the wedding was the bathrooms at Sunset Beach. As I was walking back to my car, an older, local man on a bike stopped me and asked,"Hey, where you been?"
"Huh?" I responded, slightly confused. I didn't know who this guy was.
"Yah, I know you!" he said smiling ,"You used to be one, little grommet running round here! Glad to see you back on the North Shore!"

Thanks, I said! I didn't know I was missed!

Goodbye, my little, North Shore. You will forever hold a special place in my heart, even when I am far, far away, in other beautiful places with my family.
 Even when I'm just in Hilo.


arianne said...

What wonderful memories. Having seen it now for myself I can see why you love it so much.

Da Denninghoff's said...

Sally come to think about it, I think that night at HJ with Jack playing was the first time I ever met you. I was dating Luke at the time.Do you remember? That's crazy! Looking back now that night was a real treat! i didn't realize how talented the man was. It was so chill and so fun. Oh how I would love to listen to JJ in such an intimate setting like that again but he's to popular crowds of people would consume that place. Good times:)

Sally Jackson said...

That was a really fun night and special treat! I don't remember meeting you that night! I thought the first night I met you was at Kemoo pub for ...more dancing and music. haha! But, Maybe I'm wrong. Can we rewind time and do it again??

Unknown said...

: D xoxo : D