Partly cloudy, 82 degrees. Afternoon trade winds push blue water and palm trees. Children’s laughter, Hawaiian music, swimming pools, shaved ice. It’s hard to see if my shoulders are burning but I know they are. This is resort life on Oahu’s west shore, an overly manufactured paradise to maximize happiness for those constrained by time, like me – like who I’ve become. A real vacation, planned months in advance, we all deserve a break. Day’s eyes light up when he sees the pools, the water slides, the food at the buffet. I light up when I see that he is happy. I think Sara is enjoying herself but these kind of trips can be hard on her. She needs even more sleep than usual these days, and it can be hard to make that happen with two excited boys around.
We push through the days, discovering new routines of coffee, breakfast, swimming, swimming and more swimming. From one pool to the other, from one slide to the next, lunch, snacks and dinner. Everything costs too much but now is not the time to worry about that. We rent a car and drive around the island and see nice views, surfers, chickens and traffic. In Haleiwa somehow I spot a Flicka 20 at a marina by the bridge. She’s run down and cooked by the sun but seeing those familiar lines makes me happy. For a moment I wonder what living on Alula in Hawaii would be like. A nice pause, then it’s back in the car. By mid-afternoon we’re back at the hotel.
I have a friend named Don who thinks a lot like me. We are not resort people. Neither of us grew up with money, and we learned to live life with meaning instead of things. Early on we realized adventure has little to do with money, so we learned to travel on the cheap, sleeping in cars or on the ground. The first time his family coerced him onto a cruise ship I laughed and laughed, knowing how uncomfortable he was with the idea. Afterward though he said he found ways to enjoy himself, that you just have to be creative and you’ll find something that relates. For me it was free diving in the ocean, swimming past the buoys to explore the reefs beyond the sheltered lagoon, to feel the pull of current and the push of waves. Weightless and free, with a new mask and thrift store fins, holding my breath and joining the world of colorful fish, massive coral heads – quiet awareness.
Back above water there are signs that the “premium experience” that was advertised is not hiding the harsh realities of life very well. Late one night in the next room we hear a woman rage against presumably her husband. One day a little girl even drowned in one of the pools. Because of the investigation the pool closed for a while, and people became impatient for it to reopen. It’s tragic. It’s important. What is going on around here? People’s lives are changing in massive ways and we walk around with blinders on. Later in the afternoon Sara and I sit on lounge chairs overlooking the ocean while Day swims nearby. I look at her with quiet desperation, she looks straight ahead.
Seems like I just fell asleep but here I am again, awake on the floor of my office. It’s the vacuum cleaner, out in the hallway getting louder, coming closer. Sure enough the door bangs open, she runs the vacuum around me. What time is it- 10:30? 11:00? It used to be just sleeping a lot and unpredictable moods, but in recent months the depression seems to have taken a dark turn. There is an edginess with these episodes now and I’m worried about it. It takes me a long time to fall asleep again.