“You just get here?”
“What?!” I said loudly, fumbling to remove my headphones.
“You just get here?!”
“Ohhh, ‘get here.‘ Your accent. I have a hard time with – ugh, I’m tired. Just got off a plane then a bus for an hour.”
Jack and I exchanged small talk and names while we buzzed into our outwardly sketchy hostel in Waikiki well after midnight.

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He had been out drinking beers on the beach and as the night attendant opened the door and led me to check in, jack and I said our “see ya laters.”

Walking up to the third level with my bags and bed sheets I heard sirens loudly roar up the back alley with noise and flashing lights. It occurred to me in that moment that I wasn’t actually all too familiar with the hostel experience. Aside from my brief stay on Australia’s west coast, I hadn’t spent much time in the whole group living situation.

But here I am, bleached out bed sheets in hand, witnessing some sort of Hawaiian crime scene outside my dorm.

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Coming around the corner, I saw jack and for a moment and we documented the eight police cars via snapchat and other means of social platforms. We agreed that yes, our hostel situation is a little interesting. Moments later, Sandra bursts out of our dorm, “people are, they are, well, they’re not sleeping… right across from me in our room.” Her flustered Swiss accent rolling through those words assured me that I am not cut out for this.

After a few indecisive minutes of what we should do at 1am in avoidance, we ventured out past the crime scene, leaving behind the erotic behaviours of lonely travellers, in search of cough drops and snacks.

Over the course of our walk, Jack and Sandra shattered some of my hopeful dreams for the island with harsh realities. (swimming, waves, transport, etc.) In my apparent disappointment they eventually came to the conclusion that I possibly needed to ask better questions, ones which they would have better answers to. We all chuckled.

Entering what I had coined as the “sweat shack,” I could barely fall asleep. Waikiki sucked. What I had thought would be shiny and fun, was dirty and deceiving. “Ugh, what have I gotten myself into?” I thought as I drifted in and out of sleep for a mere four hours.

Popping awake at 6am, staring out the window we had opened to release some of the “sweat shackness,” something shifted. I would not let this be the introduction to the place I was so excited to be. I strapped on my runners and bolted off towards diamond crater.

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Choosing joy requires an active shift in perspective. Getting elevated does that for me. I booked it up that crater in a timely fashion, jimmy eat world blaring in my ears. I stared below at the sprawling metropolis of Honolulu and claimed that today would be my day.

Stopping at a local cafe for the most delicious smoothie I’ve ever had, I made small talk with locals. Even in talking to them, something already changed. (Hawaiians are off the charts, by the way.) I arrived back at the hostel and Sandra peered around the corner prompting me to get ready quickly because her local friend Ro would be showing us around the island. I cleaned up, packed my bag that I’d be bringing along for the north shore later, gladly ripping my sheets from the questionable dorm situation.

We recruited jack to join and as we stuffed the hostel’s complimentary pancakes into our mouths, for a brief moment I remembered what my mom had always told me about getting into vans with strangers.

And then I thought – forget it.

I couldn’t have been in better company. I felt like I had known these people for ages. We all had a commonalty – a passion to explore, discover unknown and take a few moments to bask in it’s goodness.

I had a list from my Pinterest board of must-do’s in Oahu, which Ro and company helped me slash a good chunk off.

Today, we hiked to a waterfall.

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Ventured 1035 steps up koko crater head… and sweat buckets in the sunshine doing it. (worth it.)

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Drove the winding east coast highway, taking time to appreciate the rocks and smashing shoreline along the way.

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And we swam in the secrets pools at makapuu lighthouse.

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I even walked the plank, cannon balling into the shallow crystal blue salt water.

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Lying in the ocean, staring up at the sky feeling the salt water on my lips, I was so grateful. Grateful for like-minded people, grateful for locals who love their home, and grateful for myself. I had the courage to come here, alone. And when unexpected, unfamiliar circumstance jolted me, I changed my mind.

I claimed that this day was mine, and I owned that.

My new friends nicknamed me Dorothy, from the wizard of Oz. Not even knowing more than an ounce about my life, they had named me something so relevant and applicable. My curiosity and positivity uplifted them, and together we followed our very own yellow brick road around the island. Yup, that was cheesy.

As I fall asleep tonight in the north shore, world renowned waves crashing on the beach across the street, I will always be amazed at how our journeys evolve.

We have such a power in shaping them with our mind.

Goodnight, Oahu. You’re a beauty.

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