Yesterday, September 16, marked the first anniversary of my moving to this island. And one year ago today, I sat down and wrote the first entry of Young Man Went West (You’d think there’d be a few more than twenty-four entries, yeah?). It’s hard to say exactly what this milestone means; on one hand I think about all the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the (few) obstacles I’ve overcome and marvel, Wow, has it only been a year? But on the other hand, I think about the fact that I made teriyaki bowls for half a year and have been serving shrimp for the other and wonder, Damn, it’s been that long?! One complete cycle around the sun is a hard timeframe to comprehend, especially because the seasons don’t change here, but if I break down my experiences, maybe it’d seem like a year’s worth of accomplishments.
September 2009 – After asking my auntie and uncle for a place to sleep, I buy a one-way plane ticket to Hawaii. I have no job lined up and no place to live, but I do bring a short stack of Craigslist ads. That’s a start.
Five days later, I get a job. I cook food for Kikka Sushi in the Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall.
Before the month is over, I find an affordable place to live. It’s only a fifteen-minute walking distance from Waikiki.
I wonder how people moved anywhere before Craigslist.
October 2009 – With an income and a bed in place, I start to build my social circle. I steal my cousin’s best buddies and befriend my international roommates. With pau hana (“after work”) lunches and nights in Waiks, I just barely make rent.
I volunteer at the Hawaiian International Film Festival. The other volunteers are cool and films I saw were (mostly) interesting, but I don’t try to hob-knob with any filmmakers. I’m not in a place to network myself, and I hate doing it anyways.
I meet up with the Cal Alumni Club of Hawaii to watch Cal football games. It’s mostly middle-aged men with kids and careers, but we still have the common bond of love for our alma mater. Go Bears!
I finally get a Hawaiian State ID. Now I can get kama’aina (“local”) discount rates!
November 2009 – November sucks. I am already bored of work and get six flat tires in a week and a half. At least the month ends with turkey.
December 2009 – As bad as November was, that’s how awesome December is. I go bodysurfing at Sandy’s with my roommates every weekend, fly home for Christmas to see friends and family, and return (with a 50-pound suitcase of DVDs) just in time for fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
February 2010 – Without another source of income lined up, I quit my job at Kikka Sushi and never look back.
I work as a PA on a narrative photo shoot for over a week. The opportunity has me travel to crazy-awesome places around the island, meet interesting people every day, and learn some technical photography stuff. This is probably the best time on the island so far.
The day after my 23rd birthday, I jump out of a plane. Don’t worry, I have a parachute.
Just as my stint as a PA ends, my new position at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. begins. I am introduced to coworkers my age and the world of living off tips.
April 2010 – I get an assignment from FLUX Hawaii magazine. Backstage of Fresh Cafe, I interview The Throwdowns at their CD release concert and have my article published online. I feel important.
May 2010 – I briefly work for an aspiring wedding photographer. I redesign his website and then work two days at a wedding convention.
I get in touch with the artist from the photo shoot and get a side job working at his house, helping him finish up various art projects. I get really good at using a typewriter.
FLUX Hawaii magazine gives me another assignment. I write an article about Sustainable UH, a green student group. The article goes to print. I feel important-er.
At the artist’s house, my duties shift from finishing up art projects to packing up his things for his move to Tokyo. I get really good at using bubble wrap.
My work buddies teach me how to surf in Waikiki. I’m nowhere near good, but at least I get up on the board on my first outing.
June 2010 – I go on my first vacation from Hawaii! It’s a family trip to Seattle for my cousin Avery’s graduation. I fall in love the city and vow to move there. I still plan to.
I officially launch YoungManWentWest.com.
July 2010 – I move out of my apartment into a new one. It went from a relatively clean international house to a dirty frat house. I had to get out.
August 2010 – I return to California for a week an a half. For the first five days, I return to Camp Milagros as a volunteer counselor for a third time, then bum around the Bay to catch up with old friends.
September 2010 – I go scuba diving. It’s relaxing, but not as fun as riding a bumber boat at high speeds. We do that, too.
I celebrate my first kama’ainiversary (kama’aina + anniversary) by working a double at Bubba’s. No break.
I start another blog entry ready to joke about how I’ve done nothing for a whole year, only to realize how rich with experiences my time has been. I am surprised how much I have to write about and cherish all the small, wonderful moments with friends that couldn’t even fit in this blog. I’ve made many memories with many friends, some who have already left me and some whom I will have to leave eventually. I look forward to the next eight or so months I have on this island, anticipating the random events and opportunities that will further enrich my Hawaiian life.
PS: Here’s a link to my first post. Thought it’d be an interesting read.