The pirate ship filled her sight line and loomed above her as her eyes travelled up its giant masts. The flags noisily flapped in the wind turning the sun into a natural strobe light. Hair freely reaching out to anyone or anything close enough to entangle. A big sigh gave her just enough strength to begin the climb on board.
Excited families filled the decks. Small children, big children, Moms and Dads, played with the cannons, inspected the gallows and took pictures with the ocean as a back drop. She looked away to study the sparkling blue water lapping the side of the ship.
She expected to be nervous and to feel out of place, but so far, she only felt out of place. The only person on this ship alone. No partner, no children, just herself. She stood out in her normality. The kids wore eye patches; scarves tied around their heads or carried swords, while the adults had cameras at the ready.
Finding a seat wasn’t hard, everyone was exploring. From the bench she was less obvious. On the sidelines. An observer who longed to be on the open water.
An Irish jig played while the Captain of the ship, in full pirate garb launched his boat. There was a loud cheer as they set sail, but underneath the celebration, the boat afloat, the sails billowing she felt the calm.
Her hands clasped, she tucked them nervously between her knees. The second item on her list finally checked. Closing her eyes she took in the sea air as the city was left behind and reminded herself to breathe.
The Pirate show had started, children eagerly volunteered to be part of the treasure hunt. Their laughter rang in her ears causing a hardness in her chest, her throat straining. Clenching her hands tighter she fought the urge to look at their smiles. Finally she tested her strength and allowed her eyes to flutter open. The sun momentarily stole the show, but made way for the true stars.
Pink faces, braided hair, sundresses, scabby knees, smiles from ear to ear. The children seemed to dance in a dream like slowness. The heat of the sun was masked by the cool ocean breeze, but she was sure it was contributing to the weakness she felt in her knees. She could use some water right now, but would have to wait a few minutes.
She could see Waikiki disappear, she could see the open water, she could hear the children’s laughter. Bowing her head and squeezing her eyes shut she was able to tune out everything, except the wind making contact with the sails. The feeling of the boat gliding over the water calmed her. It only took a minute to calm her nerves. It only took a minute.
Silently she threaded herself into the ocean. The water cool, deep, stunning. Here she felt new, reborn and without burden. Here, she could finally breathe.
We were gifted a beautiful condo downtown Honolulu for the first few months of our Hawaiian adventure. It overlooked Ala Moana Beach/Park. This was a hub of activity. The beach attracted surfers, sunbathers, joggers, stand up paddle boarders and photographers. The park had tennis courts and hosted activities such as lawn bowling, ultimate frisbee and football practice. Every day, at any hour, in the same spot on the beach, there was a plump white, something. For the longest time I thought it was a tent… but it came and went too often… after watching the beach for hours and days on end I finally figured out it was a bride… several brides, having their picture taken. You name it and it probably happened at this beach/park. From Boy Scout Jamborees to caber tossing. So I started taking pictures. They weren’t great, because we were 19 stories up, but it was enough to remind me what life was like down below and the stories that these little ants had to tell.