More Letting Go

The movers come in two days. We’ve been packing and purging and giving away so much, I can’t seem to remember what all I had. The items in my place right now are things I need in the next week or are of sentimental value and cannot be given away.
The rest was shipped to Hawaii yesterday or given away to Salvation Army or friends over the past week.

This morning, I donated my car to the local Humane Society. I’ve had that car for 13 years and we’ve created a lot of memories together. So far, this is the toughest item to part with.

The other tough part was saying goodbye to my aunt and uncle. They’re really my mother’s cousin and wife, but they were like second parents to us growing up.
Their home is the only one that’s left from my childhood. I hugged my aunt goodbye, thinking I was so okay with this move, when I started to cry.
So, maybe leaving the Bay Area isn’t so easy. I’ve had a lot of loss this year and letting go of everything really seemed impossible.
But I did it.
I have pared down to just the few belongings I will carry with me on the plane to Hawaii.
A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook status today:
You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. ~Jan Glidewell

Letting Go of the Past

Boxes, bubble wrap, tape….My mind runs through the checklist of packing items over and over. Moving across a large body of water is not like moving across land. When I left Washington, D.C. to come back to California, I called a moving company who came to my door, loaded up my boxes and met me two weeks later at my apartment in San Francisco.

Hello Matson Shipping Company. I can ship my car across the Pacific. I can also rent out a whole Matson container for a huge amount of money and ship my belongings across the Pacific and meet up with the container three weeks later in Honolulu. Then I find a way to get it all to our new place.

Oh, never mind, Matson.

I love being surrounded by boxes and boxes and piles of stuff. I find photos of places and people from long ago tucked away in the pages of a book. Ticket stubs from shows and concerts I’ve seen over the years. Cards friends have sent me for various occasions.

We’ve tried to organize the boxes into three categories; getting donated, going to storage, and shipping to Oahu.

The lowest price we can find to ship a box to Hawaii is for $60. One box doesn’t even hold bedding for one queen bed. Never, ever have I been forced to purge myself of my possessions this drastically.

And guess what? IT FEELS GREAT! I’ve discovered I can let go of the past. Many of my talismans, books, notes, photos, etc. have held me to a place that belongs only in memories. I do not need to relive past events. They are in the past for a reason. Obviously, the past is not needed today.

Hawaii is a chance to start anew. Why would I want to drag the past with me 2,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean?

I don’t.

Hawaiians talk about the ‘aina, the land, and the spiritual fulfillment they get from it. The universe allows no vacuums. If I release the past, new experiences will come into my life today and tomorrow.

I must go now to organize a Salvation Army pick up, friends coming over for kitchen items, my car being donated, and to purge that which I no longer need.

The lightness feels good.

Coffee Gets Us Five-0




I had to get out of the city, so we took a little road trip to Kailua. Locals say Kailua is on the “other side” of the island. In actuality, it’s a 20-25 minute drive from Honolulu. It’s up over the Koolau Mountain range and the Pali and down into Kailua Bay. My coffee addiction led us to the General Market there. The cashier peered at me over the register and said, “Hawaii Five-0 is filming at the beach.” My eyes grew big. The coffee trembled in my hand. I turned to Mark who looked just as excited as I. The cashier continued,”The eye candy is there, too.” She looked directly at me, not at Mark.

We raced to the beach to find Alex O’Laughlin and Scott Caan and their stunt doubles on the beach. In one photo Alex O’Loughlin and his stunt double are running into the ocean at the end of filming. Scott Caan is reaching into a cooler to get water….for his dog!

The background extras were all hired actors, not like when Mark’s grandpa was asked at the time of filming to be an extra in the original show.

Walmart and Whole Foods – Hawaiian Style


With everyone safe from the tsunami on Oahu, it’s now back to Cynthia’s adventures.

A Whole Foods! A Whole Foods in the Kahala Mall! I was so excited to find my gluten-free and organic foods (Yeah, I know, the whole Monsanto thing, but still, local produce!)and it was familiar. I shopped Whole Foods back in the Bay Area.

I was dreaming of their Classic Roasted Chicken for dinner, with veggies and anything but rice.

While Mark grabbed a cart, I raced to the deli section to find my chicken…..Huli Huli chicken? What?…no classic roast with herbs and olive oil? Not here. Sugar, brown sugar to be exact, is the primary ingredient in Huli Huli chicken.

Disappointed, I searched for another type of chicken in the hot food case. I settled on stir fry vegetable mixed with grilled chicken. Mark and I planned to take a couple of pre-made dinners to the beach the following night. While the man behind the counter packed our boxes, I turned to the left to find, attached to the hot case, a plastic container filled with chopsticks. No forks. Just chopsticks. It’s a good thing Mark taught me to use those skinny sticks, otherwise I’d go hungry or resort to the gauche finger-eating style of consuming food!

We stopped at Walmart for cleaning supplies before we met Mark’s aunt at her downtown Honolulu office. Here’s a hotline phone for a cab, covered in fake plumeria flowers. There was a pay phone next to it. I don’t remember the last time a saw a pay phone in the Bay Area.

Oh, and Walmart prices in Honolulu are the same as on the mainland.

After meeting Mark’s aunt and uncle, we cleaned the condo with our newly acquired cleaning supplies.

For dinner we ventured back to Kahala. We found Greek Food next to the Kahala mall, but they only accepted cash and we were conserving our cash. You see, banks in Hawaii are different than the rest of the U.S. There’s no BofA or Wells Fargo. Bank of Hawaii (Bank Oh) and First Hawaiian are the ones seen everywhere.

We kept driving to St. Louis Heights and found a Greek restaurant. This is well out of the tourist zone. Everyone wore t-shirts, tanks, jeans, capris, flip-flops (slippahs) and running shoes.

We were the only ones wearing aloha shirts.

The food was delicious. The meat was grilled without a sugar or gravy coating on it and not a speck of rice was found on my plate!

While eating, I realized I needed to fit in if I was going to live here. Healthy eating I won’t compromise on, but clothing I will change.

We went to Ala Moana for shopping the following day.

That night, while wearing my new lightweight shirt and capri pants, Mark and I ate Whole Foods dinners and watched the fireworks on the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It was a great show, but don’t be late. It only lasts five minutes.

Next up, our road trip to Kailua!

Tsunami Warning

I was starting to type about my experience with the 11:45 am Tsunami warning on the first of February, when I turned on the news and saw the 8.8 earthquake in Japan. Now Hawaii is under a tsunami warning. I’m currently back in the Bay Area packing up for our move.

I haven’t written about our friend, I’ll call Jake. Jake was transferred to Oahu by his company our second week on Oahu. He’s a friend of a friend and she connected us by e-mail. Mark and I met Jake for dinner and we all got along great. We bonded over being San Franciscans in Hawaii. We took Jake for his first malasada and his first Lappert’s Ice Cream. It was an experience we were doing together – moving to Oahu.

Now, Jake is in Honolulu without a car and without us. I feel like we abandoned him. We were having this experience together and now he’s there and we’re here. Jake messaged me about 20 minutes ago. He was on his way to the store for water.

Praying for Japan and all those under the tsunami warning.

Five-0 Night Hawaiian Style

Monday night in Hawaii. Mark and I religiously watch the new Hawaii Five-0 show. We both remember the original as kids.

When my family took a trip to Hawaii in 1971, my father dressed fashionably for the day in ice blue leisure pants, a blue and white long-sleeved Hawaiian shirt with matching white shoes and belt and a big straw hat with Foster Grant sunglasses. He was twice mistaken for Jack Lord, the star of Hawaii Five-0.

Mark’s grandpa was an extra in the original show. Look for Danno and Ben in Chinatown searching for the bad guy. The woman at the counter shakes her head as they show her the mug shot. The man in front chopping beef is Mark’s grandpa.

We faced the TV at 8:59PM (TV shows start an hour earlier in Hawaii) and wondered if we’d see the new show filming around Waikiki. We’d keep an eye out for the crew.

Oh, if you watch the show in California, there’s a Hawaiian Airlines commercial with a woman looking in the mirror and dancing the hula with a green grass skirt and her husband comes in holding two airline tickets. We waited for the commercial to air. Duh, they don’t show that in Hawaii. Hawaiians are already in Hawaii. Instead we saw hamsters dressed in leather jackets, rapping a song for a new Kia.

Dolphins Bring Me Home


After a week on Oahu, I was cranky. This really wasn’t vacation. I hadn’t been to the beach yet, nor even to a swimming pool. My foot wasn’t strong enough to swim in the water. I couldn’t walk in the sand yet. If I walked too far, it cramped up and hurt.

Mark and I spent the morning driving back to the Honolulu airport to exchange our rental car. On the way home, Mark told me to drive so I’d know my way around. Through the industrial section and on to the buildings of downtown, I saw Aloha tower-the iconic symbol from old Hawaii. I’d remembered it from the old Hawaii Five-0 show from my childhood.

I turned into the parking area, just to see what the building was like. Mark and I decided to check it out. We worked our way from the parking lot to the shopping area through a huge group of Japanese tourists. They looked like they were in high school; all wearing the same uniform-dark pants or skirt, white blouse and navy blue sweaters.

I headed straight for the water. At the end of the main walkway, was Don Ho’s restaurant, a truly kitschy tourist trap of a place. But I was hungry and needed to sit near the water. I was tired of the condos, offices and traffic of Waikiki.
The manager took us to a table at the edge of the water and apologised. The tables near the water were also close to the dockworkers and their foul language. He also said they were out of chicken wings. I was okay with that. I’d had enough Korean chicken and chicken Katsu to last me a while.

He left us at the table and I scanned the water. To the left was the entry to Honolulu Harbor. Across the water was a Coast Guard station and to the right were the docks for large ships.

I laughed when I looked for utensils. The happy coconut face smiled back at me, taunting me to use chopsticks.

Our waitress apologised when she saw us. The Japanese group we’d seen outside had just left the restaurant and all 99 of them wanted Moco Loco – a Hawaiian concoction of rice, hamburger patty, two fried eggs and brown gravy. They were out of ground sirloin. No hamburger for us. No chicken wings either.

I sighed heavily, realizing I was in this “not vacation, we might live here” tourist locale for another three weeks.

I was homesick. I wanted my coffee shops from San Francisco and a cool breeze to stop the humidity so my hair wouldn’t curl and frizz. I wanted my blue sky after the fog lifts over the City. I wanted to see the trees from Mt. Tamalpais.

Over the water, something caught my eye. A family of dolphins was swimming past us. They were soothing and graceful. They swam towards the dock area. My eyes followed them. Then they turned and left the harbor back out to sea. I asked Mark, “Is this the dock where the Matson ships would have come?”

Yes. It was. My grandfather had worked this area in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
I felt a little less homesick and wanted to know more about the magical Hawaiian Maritime history.

Hapa What?

My aunt, from the Bay Area, spends much of her time on Oahu. She’d invited us to join her and her friends for the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. I’d been to Aloha Stadium twice before for USC-UH football games. At the game last fall, Mark and I first talked about possibly moving to Hawaii.
In San Francisco we aren’t any different from any other couple. The City is so diverse that there are mixed race people and mixed race couples everywhere. Oh, did I mention that Mark is Asian? Well, he is.

At the Pro Bowl tailgate, I searched the foods people brought with them. I realized Hawaiians sweeten their meats, yet the desserts aren’t always sweet. (Unless there’s chocolate, it’s not a dessert in my opinion.) I ate Korean chicken yet again, with macaroni salad and rice.

When it started to rain, we headed into the stadium to our seats, which were under cover. Once we were sitting in the correct seats, the Asian man behind us said to the back of my head, “You must have beautiful kids. Hapa kids are always beautiful.” He explained “Hapa” is what they call kids of mixed Asian/Caucasian descent. It’s short for “Hapa Haole”. Hapa means half.

When I told the man we weren’t married and didn’t have kids. He was shocked. “You’re moving here with him, even though you aren’t married? What does your family think?”

Huh, I thought being a mixed race couple might be a problem. I didn’t know the not married part was.

1938 Ala Wai Canal Re-lived


My fourth day in Hawaii and I was stuck on the lounge chair on the balcony, I mean, the lanai, with my foot elevated and iced. The condo’s lanai looked out over Ala Wai Canal, a canal built from 1921-28 to channel the runoff and keep what is now Waikiki dry.

My sister happened to e-mail just then with this photo. It’s of my father and his older brother fishing off Ala Wai Canal in 1938. My grandfather worked for Matson Cruise Lines on the San Francisco to Honolulu route and the family lived in Honolulu at that time.

I looked out to the canal and tried to imagine my dad as a little kid sitting on the edge of the very same canal I saw. 1938 to 2011.

Maybe coming to Hawaii is a homecoming of sorts for me?