From Notes, Hilo, Hawaii
by Alex Monday
Nothing was guaranteed. Except that moment…
It was the end of October. The plane from Seattle arrived in Kona around five-thirty in the afternoon. My plan was to hitch a ride down to the town. I walked in the muggy heat until it was dark. Arm out to the trucks passing. They were all full. Guys returning from work. I found out later most laborers finished around three. Leaving time for surfing before the sun falls again into the sea.
Passing traffic thinned out. Kona highway parallels the restricted area airfield. I slept on lave stones in that airfield under a Bougainvillea. My backpack as a pillow. Coqui frogs screamed their mating call into the warm night. All night. Around four am I woke in a sweat. A roach on my arm. The Moon a half-guava in the sky. I took to the road again at first light when the day was coolest. Caught a ride into Kailua-Kona. Coffee and croissants at Buns in the Sun. Asked a traveler at another table about the bus routes. He offered a ride. Around the Island. To Hilo. The wet side.
Hilo was jiving. A forever summer, triple-laid-back-Olympia kind of town. It was easy to make friends there. I was up with the sun some days. Six sharp. Only there it was pastel soft. And the morning air was like a girl’s breath after a kiss. Some days I slept in. The street traffic became a dub step rhythm on repeat. I dreamed of girls riding turtles in the surf. At the café down the street we drank coffee and talked. Writers talking story. This sailor trying to make Guinness Book of World Records solo sailing around the world in a San Juan 24. Caution for the future ceased to be an impulse check. It was easy to say yes in Hawaii. To just be. To flow and feel and find something you were looking for but didn’t know it. People visited. People calling Hilo home. Real Time story characters. Bear’s Coffee was my morning spot to write.
It was Halloween. Halloween in Hilo, Hawaii. And the town was partying. The hotel main steps were a wide mouth onto the street. I liked to lounge there watching the women pass. The sexy bartender we all wanted. She smiled at us while we drank our lives away.
Every day was the best of days. I walked Pahoa. The hippy-flower-child cousin of Hilo. Orchids grew like wildflowers along the sides of the highway. Hawaii Tropical gardens. And Onomea Bay. I felt like Peter Pan in Jurassic Park. With a cute girl and a big dog. There were plants with blossoms that could only have been invented while under the influence of heavy substances. Waterfalls and lily ponds. And single leaves large enough to obscure a tall man.
I drove across the saddle road back to Kona. Cruised Ali’i drive. Hit up the beaches. Got high at Old Kona Airport while we watched the sun fall into the ocean. I was in awe of the sea. And the creatures she birthed. The underwater scene mimicked the strange exotic fruits of the Island. Rebellious color, sharp textures. Corals and fruit that look like a man’s brain. Creatures dreamed up by Jules Vern. I snorkeled all day. Went snorkeling and body surfing. The sea was like a battery recharger for the energizer bunny. Every day I lived and every night I slept like a baby.
The chickens from the farm across the road never stopped chattering and complaining. Wind made a soft song in the bells. Hawaii could have been Florida. Kenya, Palm Springs, Barbados. And I was the lucky dog sitting on the front pillared porch and putting words to ideas. It was amazingly beautiful there. Up on the slopes of Hualalai. Like a palatial mansion in a dream. Lush countryside stretching down to sea level. To the rugged lava coast. The location where the golden orb of sun dropped from the clouds and into the sea every night was directly before me. And as night whispered up the mountain, the lights of Kailua-Kona came on. … It was a million dollar view.