He was staying with me six nights out of the week. He… however old he was, one-shouldering his overnight backpack, occupying the other with a twelve pack of whichever beer he was feeling that day. These six out of seven days my chest would start pounding, my stomach a symphony of twists and turns no matter whether it was the third or thirty-third time I was seeing him. All fear aside as the double iron doors separated, revealing this flawless figure. A tanned face hiding behind a flat bill hat and shades, broad swimmers’ shoulders, sculpted and clothed in an extra large white tee, vibrant board shorts leading down to his tanned legs, and finally the slippers (flip-flops). This gorgeous man was waiting in my lobby, waiting to see me. He picked me, how you might pick through a handful of carefully gathered grains of sand on a glowing sunny day at the beach. You hope to find the prettiest one out of thousands of crystals and shattered shells. The handful makes a quick run for it down through the slits of your palms. You eye the one you want to take home and make your treasure. It rests on your fingertip as you stare at it, squint at it, study it, finding its’ ins and outs — what makes it, it. You cherish your new treasure holding it high above all the others, on a pedestal reaching up into the clouds, away from all the fury. It doesn’t know any better than to shimmer in its’ own light, putting on a show for you and the world to see.
Dude, don’t get me wrong, I respect my parents, I respect girls too, like at age thirty. But not girls our age, no way. This one chick was bangin’ my buddy, ends up she was doin’ the same shit with two of my other brothers.”
Voices were known, I learned, to trail down the hot surface of the earth from parties of all ages up above in the parking lot, jamming and drinking in the beds of their trucks and SUV’s. Everyone partied at Sandy’s, everyone. Even over the blaring reggae island music, you could make out the the calls from the locals,
“Eh, bruddah, you see dat dera. Das a solid one bruddah. Ohhh look him go!”
They converse how the waves look coming in from afar. A vibration out in the middle of the ocean traveling distances unknown, finally to come crashing into the earth feet before us. The rebel locals who have been doing it since tikes take the risk at riding these beasts. The place is Sandy’s, if you are in on local terms otherwise Sandy Beach for the tourists of the island. To me though, I call it My Sanctuary. My place of limitless coastline, mesmerizing, and endless waves of different tropical blues washing up to touch you, dismissed before it can grab you. It amazes me, wave after wave, never stopping or slowing down for anything in its’ path. Mother Nature exercising her power like the hands on a clock. If the waves aren’t fascinating enough, you may take a look out in the distance of one of three surf breaks. Talent and skill ride the wave after wave. Paddling their way out, waiting for the perfect one. In the blink of an eye you see a human gliding so effortlessly atop a board through the water. And if wave watching isn’t your thing, turn around to a backdrop of green mountains towering behind you. My favorite feature is on a good day, which I guess some argue is everyday when you live in Hawaii, on a clear day rather, you are able to see the mountain tops on the island of Maui off in the distance. Like looking out onto another planet ocean miles away.
Sandy Beach is arguably the most popular beach on the island. Both locals and tourists make the beautiful scenic drive on the edge of cliffs of the east side. The tourists however, are commonly guided off the beach once they get there and are geared up to go in the water. As it turns out this beach is ranked number one in the nation for broken necks and backs. The shore break and waves coming in are that harsh. Locals, people who know what they are doing, are the only ones allowed in the water. The lifeguards make sure of this. My first time at Sandy’s, a voice came out of no where, blaring through a loudspeaker these very directions to stay out of the water if you do not know what you are doing. Americans, Asians, Russians, tourists of all kinds think it is just another beach, another beautiful pebbly landmass of Hawaii where they wish to indulge in their day at. It has a lot more to offer than a resting spot. I always chose not disobey the lifeguards’ requests and stay on their good side. I was there for the sun, the atmosphere, the vibes, the music, the views anyway.
It had not been two months of living there yet and my relationship with the aloha state was coming together beautifully. I was a twenty-year-old Iowa girl starting a new life out on some island five thousand miles away from anyone or anything I knew or recognized. My dad, the worried father he is, bothered to ask me the night before he and my Ma would drive me to the airport to say goodbye to their daughter until who knew when,
“What is the first thing you’re going to do when you get there?”
Well Dad, I did what any twenty-year-old Iowa girl would do, I bought a journal. I would document my life spent out on this island. However exciting or dull the journey may be, I would be writing it down. I wanted to remember. I wanted to be remembered. I was living on one of the most longed for places to visit. Everyone knew Hawaii.
Absurd dialect of degrading women swayed its way down the beach and into my tamed ears of hearing only crashing the waves. This star of the show doofus was rambling on and on about how slutty girls were, how easy they were, degrading them by name calling. I could tell these were the words of a frat boy — humiliating, excessive and negative, seemingly always having time to blatantly share a story of their past hookups. I surprised myself with how comfortable I was writing down the information and opinions he was so vividly sharing. I allowed a smile to work its way through my teeth with the news of the discovery my stereotype paralleled perfectly.
As his stories progressed in further detail I rather not share in writing for a second time, the sun was getting heated with the island floor right at its’ prime time of three o’clock in the afternoon. Sweat had built up in the small of my back. I wanted in that water. I needed a soothing refresher after the horrible night I had before, arguing with an ex from back home. What a waste of time and energy. I wasn’t planning for a trip to the emergency room with a neck or back injury, so I settled on heading to the chlorine filled hole in the ground back at my condo building they call a swimming pool. I shut the little black cardboard cover to my journal and set it to the side, the first step of cleaning up camp. I flipped my body over in order to get some last minute rays on my stomach while I thought about whatever it was I was thinking —
I thought my ears were playing some island voodoo trick on me. I flipped open my lids. Funny joke Hawaii, just when I thought we were getting along great. I am squinting into the sun, holding my hand up as a visor to block the stinging rays. Somehow I make out the eyes of the the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life. He was crouched down beside me, tanned toes inches from my towel.
My voice found way, replying, how are you.
He said he was having a great day, has been relaxing on the beach and catching some waves.
He asked my name, so I told him. I would have told him anything at that point. I was on a high, quick and so very high. I wanted to believe the heavens sent down a sign right then and there— an angel, to tell me I was doing ok, that I am where I should be, that I was in for a real treat. I saw this guy as my whole new God, a God who just stuck his hand out to shake it with mine. His name was Mike.
“I have some cold ones chilling up there. Let’s move down beach a bit and a have a few, yeah?”
He was asking me to have a beer with him. Me, the young, touristy-looking, Iowa girl not getting in the water, have a cold one with you, a God of Hawaii, bronzed, bulked, charming from the first syllable off his lips.
Sure, I told him.
The word just flowed right out.
A few beers led to laughter which is the best way at getting to know someone. After an hour or so the beers ran dry, leading Mike to suggest a beer run and sunset watching on a nearby cliff.
Sure, that word came again.
The cliff was beautiful. Breathtaking. A landscape nothing will ever be in comparison to. Ocean for as far out as you can see. A party and kids jumping in off the cliff to your left, couples and fisherman to the right, all there really for the same reason.
Intoxication levels began to rise just as the sun disappeared under the horizon of the ocean onto another world. Nothing around us but darkness as he asks if we should continue the night together..
Sure, no hesitation.
We finally make our way to my penthouse just down the road. I give him kudos for grabbing a lime to compliment the bottles of Corona he picked up along the way. He makes himself right at home, exploring inside the multiple wooden drawers of my kitchen for a knife of his liking. I was curious how homey he would go before asking for some guidance. My eyes followed his glossy gaze, mazing his way through.They are actually in that one over there, I tell him as I point.
He looks at me and smiles.
Happy birthday America! Nothing quite says that more than the buzzing loudness of your cell alarm. One of my favorite days of the year, with a seven hour shift ahead of me inside an overcrowded grocery store. Thank God I remembered to set my alarm. I got up, showered, made coffee. My normal morning routine while beach boy slumbered away, resting his well worked body. The deep, dark aroma brewing awoke his senses.
How do you like your coffee, I yelled from around the corner in the kitchen.
Just how I liked it. We both had a cup as we tried the concept of morning talk.
“I had a dream my car got towed last night.”
Turns out, his car in fact did get towed for blocking a driveway.
A few calls, a few more cups of coffee, and his car was found, verbally.
I weighed the likeliness I would be late to work if I helped him out with a ride to the tow station. It took one second for me to look up from my coffee cup at the gorgeous man before me.
Something had overcome me that night. I had become an optimist, a breed of people I admired and adored. I was laid back, go with the flow all of a sudden.
I poured our coffee in two thermos cups I had found in the cupboard and hit the highway. I had no clue where I was going and the crazy drivers of Hawaii do not help whatsoever. Mike though, led us right to the beat up garage of a business, like he had done this a time or two before. He got out, leaned on the open window,
“Thanks for the ride, Em. Get to work on time, okay?”
No problem man.
I put my vehicle into reverse, I am never going to see this guy again.
On second thought, down goes my driver seat window as words flow off my tongue out into the open air. His gaze, focused on me at least one more time.
Can I give you my number.
How pathetic, childlike, girlish, vulnerable. The list could go on. My instincts, how could you? What was wrong with me. It wasn’t me, that was it. Wasn’t it supposed to go the other way around, the guy desperately asking for the girls number? Or is that just another one of my stereotypes?
He punched my number into his phone, even texted me while I was at work. He wanted me to come up to the North Shore for a Fourth of July party. Holiday plans on new turf — a new concept for me.
I pulled up to a beach house that matched the number he relayed to me as an address to the party. In a circle on the perfectly cut, perfectly green, Hawaii grass sat the new crew. One guy on guitar, beers not missing from a single hand.
I could do this.
Morning rays created a heat storm inside the tent. It was my second night waking up with this Mike character. He unzipped the door, both of us astonished by the reflecting oceanfront view just feet in front of us.
“Bring a bikini like I told you, Emz?”
Of course, I told him, smiling.
We walked down the beach to be by ourselves a bit. I surprised him with a confession; I had not been in the water since I had moved on island a few months ago.
“What?! Emz, unacceptable. Whatta been doing?”
The news made his drive more intense to get me in the water which it didn’t take much to do. Wrapped in Mike’s arms, a man I was falling so fast and hard for. Cool pools of aqua blue filled between the crevices between us. We were staring into each others eyes as if we had known each other for years. His kisses, nothing less than magical as we floated for what seemed like hours.
I couldn’t have imagined my holiday to go any other way.
So we developed a relationship, a collaboration of commonalities. We excited each other, found a liking towards each others’ company, began learning from each other. Mike made me see life in new ways, cliché as that sounds, but it was the truth. He knew the island, I didn’t, meaning everything he showed me was a first time for me, making it all the more exciting for the both of us. He enjoyed being the one to show me the nooks and crannies, and his favorite secret spots to watch sunset or to relax and have a beer. We compared how each of us grew up — generations apart, nearly worlds apart, him Maui, me Iowa. He asked me all the stereotypical questions one would ask an ‘Iowa girl’ — do your parents farm, were you bored your whole childhood, do you own cowboy boots, how did you end up here, in Hawaii.
I was honest with him, very honest actually. I didn’t have anything to lie about. I felt comfortable with him, for the most part. One afternoon after we had been doing this staying with each other thing for awhile, we were up in the penthouse, unable yet to make it out into the beautiful sunny day, Mike asked me how many guys I had been with. This, I knew, is one of the questions he had no problem asking, and one which I would not dare ask back. I want to believe he picked up on this pattern; he received a lot from me, but I was content with not knowing so much about his past relationships. When I was to ask questions, I was more focused on his family, how they made it out to Hawaii, why his parents weren’t together, how his relationship with them and his sister was, how met his friends, how long he had been surfing. Like I said though, I had no issues answering the questions he had for me, no matter what state we were in. My answer as to how many guys I had been with took him by surprise..
“That’s it?! There is no way Emz!”
I don’t lie, man.
He was a cool guy, the coolest I had ever been with. He taught me how to cut and perfectly slice an avocado, a mango and a papaya. He taught me how to surf. This, was one of the best days of my life. We decided early one morning this would be the day Em gets taught how to ride the waves. He even let me borrow his beloved pink board.
Mike found out I had a strong liking for red wine, so red wine he brought over with steaks one night. We always ate down in the garden area of my condo building, an open space, with grills, benches, beautiful gardens of tropical flowers and trees, and the where the pool was located for residents of the building. One night my neighbor, an older gentlemen, Peter, stumbled upon Mike and me. Peter was out smoking his pipe, like he did every night at around the same time. Tonight though, we invited him on over to join in conversation with us. Turns out, Peter and Mike were both engineers who attended University of Hawaii. They compared classes, professors, problems within the program, what needs to change within the program. I sat back and enjoyed the discussion between the two intelligent men, thinking how content I was with my life, red wine swirling round the glass in my hand.
So it was apparent Mike was clearly older than me. He was a graduate student while I was below the legal drinking age. It was working out well though, I swear. Until of course, it wasn’t. Mike was planning on attending a surfing trip with his bros. A surf trip taking place in Nicaragua, two weeks, no cell phones. He had his Macbook out one morning looking at plane tickets. On my coffee table sat his I.D. I refused to look at it. The question lingered in the back of my mind how old he actually was, but something held me back. I wanted some ambiguity between our seemingly perfect relationship.
The day came, I drove Mike to the airport, even made him some goodies to ensure he had a great flight. The first week went by. Not as tough as I thought it would be. To my surprise my anxiety did not sky rocket like I thought it might have. I mean, he was my cuddle buddy, my drinking, smoking, surfing, swimming, theory talking, napping on beaches buddy. We spent almost every waking hour together. There were those nights we got busy and could not stay with each other. On these nights he would call me up, we would talk for at least an hour. About anything and everything.
One night I stayed at his house. This was very uncommon, but nonetheless it happened. We were out in his backyard watching the stars. We swayed to and fro laying in his beat up hammock tied between two palm trees, a heirloom from his childhood on Maui. It was my favorite spot, my favorite memory of my time on the island; right there with him, his sturdy arm around my neck, my palm rested on his furry, grown-man chest, open to the night sky.. his cat, Cougar (Cougs), momentarily rubbing up against our feet as we pushed off with gravity off the earth, keeping the momentum alive. We talked about how little, yet big, of an impact we have on the world. Then, Mike turned on me,
“Emz.. I want you to know how much you mean to me.. how much I enjoy having you around and the time we spend together.”
Ok, ok. Great Mike.
He has never spoke this way towards me before.
“Emz, for real though. I am comfortable with you. I like you around.. I care about you, you get me to say things I have never before.”
Alright Maui, I got it.
I am not one for compliments, he would soon find out. We had also been drinking and bathing in the hot Hawaii sun all day.
Another week went by. By this time I had gotten lost in my new job at a natural food store. I had a new family with the employees there. We exchanged numbers, kicked it after work, ‘went beach’ (a local term) together. I found myself enjoying my time without Maui around. Was I anxious for his return? Of course. But that doesn’t stop a girl from having her own fun. After all, we never put a title on the thing.
The two week mark was coming up. I got to thinking about him, hoping he hadn’t forgotten about me when an email appeared in my inbox from him (we sometimes went old school). The message contained little information. Just that they were having a great time, hoped I was enjoying the island, and asked if I would be willing to pick him up at the airport that Wednesday night.
Of course I would.
The ‘relationship’ went back to normal for just that one night, however you want to define normal. I suppose we were not the ideal type of ‘normal’ relationship. I think we both knew that. We avoided the topic. Until one night. Shortly after he returned from his vacation, we got back into our routine, of beer, ciggies, spliffs, beach, cookouts at my place, — the works. I must have been taking extra sips this one night, I was feeling great.
We had eventually stumbled our way back up to my unit after being in the garden for the majority of the night. He began to roll a spliff just a minute after entering the condo. I watched his technique as I planned, planned for the medicine in-between his fingers to enter my system to begin a ever so familiar formulation of the words lingering in the back of my mind to question Maui, the liable suspect.
Are you seeing anyone else?
It came out just like that. Simple. Quick. I wanted to know, I really did, hence why I was finally asking him a question pertaining to whatever it was we had going on. A world of weight off my shoulders.
“What do you mean Em?”
My mind went immediately racing, What do you mean what do I mean?! Before I could clarify oh so precisely for Maui Mike, he answered his own question,
“I fucked a chick in Nicaragua.”
All the loyalty, ambition, all the fondness, appreciation I held for him, the uniqueness I thought about him, my desire and ambition to keep him around and in my life, my want, not to mention my need for him, and the impression I had of him imprinted in my mind, his dreamlike silhouette of a man, the first man I had been with, all disappeared, vanished, poof, gone. Those six words is all it took to completely lose my respect. I wanted him out of my condo, out of my mind. But my face stood cool. I wouldn’t let it show this bothered me. I was above this. I should have expected this. After a long pause, a few breaths of air, he was the one to speak again,
“Em, I’m sorry.”
His words were nothing but jumble now, like kids blocks — all the resources in front of you to make a word, but you hold the characteristics of an amateur, you cannot put them together. I had nothing to say to this now stranger sitting so relaxed and in the zone, beside me. The way he said it, it will never leave my mind. I wanted to spit in his face.
You imbecile, you dirtbag, sleaze bag, nasty, nasty —
Understandable, is what actually came out. Understandable. I was clearly the imbecile. I let him sit there, sip his beer, take a hit. I was up off the white leather couch now staring out over the city, twenty-two floors up, nothing but concrete below. He set the joint down behind me to come wrap his arms around my waist. Another apology off his lips.
“I can leave Em.”
It’s cool, it’s cool.
He stayed. We drank, smoked, did our usual nighttime routine. Everything was still the same.
Except not at all. Not where it mattered. My head was played with. I trusted someone who let me down. I took it personally — after how he had been acting with me lately, after all the time put into the ‘relationship’ we had.. all down the drain now in the blink of an eye. But he didn’t know this yet. He was oblivious. He really thought I just waved it on by. Little did he know I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I stayed awake in bed, replaying those six words over and over again. I fucked a chick in Nicaragua. He couldn’t have used another word other than chick? He couldn’t have used another word other than fucked? He couldn’t have lied to my face!? Any and all the above would have resulted somewhat better than what was to come.
He left in the morning, most likely unsure of the information he fed me the night before. Later that afternoon though, I am sure he put the pieces together after not hearing back from me for quite some time. I decided to ignore his calls for the day, oh and his texts.. He was a lost puppy out in the world without his penthouse condo chick to kick it with. The unanswered calls and texts continued for a few days, until he went to extremes.
As stated, I lived twenty-two story-high condo building made of concrete, a secure building with doormen trained with special keys to operate the access to certain doors and elevators. Bruce, the nighttime shift doorman ensured me when I first moved in to the elegant building in Hawaii, Kai, Honolulu, “Hey Emily, just so you know, well I want to welcome you, but also, please know no one will pass by me without a notice to or from you beforehand to do so.”
Bruce had let one slide that night. I was in bed, cozied up for the evening (it was only eight-thirty), watching my girl, Chelsea Handler on E!.
Firm strikes at my bold, wooden double doored entrance startled the living day lights out of my cozied up body. I instantly muted the TV. The pounds on the door continue and then a voice,
Maui Mike at my door, surprise, surprise. How he got up to my floor God only knows. I made the phone call to Bruce at the front desk exactly fifteen minutes after the last knock occurred. Bruce had no explanation other than he thought it was okay to let him up.
Yet another let down.
The missed texts and calls continued that night and into the morning. What didn’t he get? I am a black and white kind of girl; you fuck me over, you’re no good to me anymore. Simple as that.
Mike couldn’t take a hint.
I had just gotten off work, four in the afternoon on the dot. I had my friend, Antouine, from work coming over shortly to relax and unwind after a busy day. I parked the car, walked past Bruce to check the mail, hit him up with the usual short talk of, “How is your day going” and such. I turn around to wait for the elevator to come down and retrieve me. Maui Mike appears in my peripheral, as a Baywatch superstar on set running up to the lobby where I am standing, waiting for my elevator.
What do you want Mike.
“I need.. I need to talk to you Emz.”
I have plans.
“I have been worried about you. Can I please have a second of your time.”
I was already in dreamland without him. There is no doubt I fell into his deep, dark vortex of beyond dreamy looks, his charm, the way he talked, the way he carried himself, everything he taught me..
Everything I had lacked back ‘home’.