Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Steve's wedding: The aftermath

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Kahului International Airport, Maui, Hawaii

I've flown across the country lots of times. It gets easy after awhile: Do some work for a couple of hours, knock out a few crossword puzzles, watch a movie, take a nap, and you're there. But none of that prepared me for flying to Hawaii.

It's five hours from Boston to LA, and another five from LA to Hawaii. It's like flying across the country and back again all in one day.

In Hawaii, every local clock, as well as the position of the sun, tells us it is 3 in the afternoon, but our bodies are telling us it is 8:00 at night, and that we should be getting ready for bed. We should be fine tomorrow, as long as we keep ourselves awake for the next six or seven hours. Somehow.

After stepping off the plane, it takes us about 45 seconds to get Hawaii-fied. We deplane and walk 50 feet, turning left onto a long hallway with a floor-to-ceiling picture window, and I stop dead in my tracks as I look through it. To those who live in Hawaii, it's nothing. To me, it's a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh, a work of art burned in my memory forever.

Two palm trees stand side by side, bent slightly to one side as if curved by the wind. Behind them is a hulking mass of black rock the size of a strip mall. The sky is cartoon blue, a shade we might see in Boston once or twice a year, when the pollution takes a day off.

I used to think we flew halfway around the world, but that's obviously not true. Clearly, we've flown to another planet entirely, where no one stresses about the weather, because it's gorgeous every day. In fact, I bet no one stresses about anything here, because it simply doesn't make sense.

"...just gonna stand here all day?" Tim is asking.


"Let's go get our luggage! I can't wait to see the hotel!" she chirps.

Makena Beach, Maui

I'm unprepared for the view. The horizon stretches endlessly from east to west--an uninterrupted meeting of sky and water so profound that suddenly, I can comprehend my place on earth, the overwhelming hugeness of the planet and everything beyond it.

Warm waves splash against my feet then retreat back, scurrying away from me like shy children. The sand is...cleaner here, softer, less rocky than I am used to, and the water melts it away around me until I find myself buried ankle deep in it.

Tim and I find a spot above the tide and sit, me leaning back against my elbows, her sitting between my knees, watching as the sky burns pink and orange and the sun slowly disappears into the ocean.

"I'm tired," she says.

"Don't go to sleep, hon. It's too early!"

"I won't."

Neither will I.

Makena Beach

"Shit! We fell asleep!" Tim says.

So much for beating jet lag.