Monthly Archives: May 2012

Young Man Went West #42: Just One More State

As we made our way from the snack stand to the fake river’s edge to watch the “Rainbow of Paradise” canoe pageant, a thought crept into my head: “I’ve done this before.”

This exactly? No. I had never been to the Polynesian Cultural Center before. I had never filled up on a meal of chili rice and mac nut ice cream. I had never squeezed in among tourists to watch a river parade.

But I have done “this.” I’ve explored the most touristy attraction of a region with equal parts admiration and cynicism and my good friend Ian by my side. Sure, our summer roadtrip had ended eight months prior, but apparently he and I had one more state to explore: Hawaii.

Ian came to stay with me during the second week of May. He had been talking about visiting since I moved here almost three years ago, but it wasn’t until news of my impending move reached him did he make plans to come. That, and his savings account had to recuperate after our cross-country adventure. I was excited to have him come. Ian and I went to the same middle school, high school and college. We have a lot of the same friends, interests, and opinions. We spent three months together in a Honda Civic. It was weird to think that something as familiar to me as Hawaii was something he hadn’t truly experienced before. I couldn’t wait to fix that.

I had played tour guide to a number of friends before Ian, so I knew what I was doing. Jenn and I picked him up from the airport ready with a couple containers of poke. In the span of six days, he also tried traditional Hawaiian food, shave ice, Spam musubi from 7-Eleven, Storto’s sandwiches, Kahuku shrimp, and a Zip Pac from Zippy’s. We did the requisite trips up to North Shore, around Waikiki, and into Chinatown. And even though I couldn’t go because of work, he got to visit Pearl Harbor, too. I’ve not only eaten, seen, and done all of these things countless times before, but I’ve also made a point of introducing them all to my friends.

But this time, it was different.

I realized that these mini trips and food experiences were as much for my sake as they were for his; he was exploring these places for the first time, and I was exploring them for possibly the last. At least, the last time as a resident. A transplant local. Universities say you need to be living in state for a year before you can claim residency; on my one-year mark I got a tattoo in honor of my first “kama’ainiversary.” Since then, I’ve transitioned from wide-eyed newcomer to indifferent local. I don’t go to the beach anymore. I no longer walk around Waikiki for the hell of it. I barely leave my neighborhood except to go to work. I decided to use Ian’s visit as motivation to rediscover my island.

On Ian’s first full day here, I swallowed my pride and participated in a full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. For the past three years, I’ve been told to avoid this tourist trap, but before our day at PCC  was even half over, I was legitimately enjoying the entire experience! Unlike Germaine’s Luau and Paradise Cove, PCC isn’t just a luau–which by today’s terms means a low-quality Hawaiian food buffet with a cheesy dancing and an even cheesier host–it’s a theme park as well as a stage show with high production value. I mean, it does have that aforementioned type of luau, but it’s sandwiched between two much better experiences.

Even though the layout of the 42-acre collection of “villages” looks as fake as Disneyland, it’s more of a living museum than a theme park. There are demonstrations at each of the six main villages every half hour. Each village represents a different major Polynesian culture (Samoa, Aotearoa a.k.a. New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and Hawai’i), and each is run by natives from those places who are dressed in traditional garb, demonstrate dances and instruments, and drop some first-hand knowledge of their respective cultures. I learned a lot from the demonstrations, and not just about the characteristics of those six cultures, but also about the distinctions between them. This came in handy for the evening show, which was an awe-inspiring spectacle that told a legendary tale while exploring the six major cultures through song and dance.  Ian and I were equally impressed with our time at the PCC, especially since this was supposed to be our ironically touristy day in Hawaii.

While Ian’s first full day at the PCC was an experience most locals don’t partake in, his last full day was something we almost all do: spend a day on the North Shore. It was his first legitimate Hawaiian beach day. We jumped off the rock at Waimea, got shave ice in Haleiwa, and ate shrimp in Kahuku. To top it off, we spent that Friday night barhopping in Chinatown and Waikiki with Jenn and her friends. It was typical and it was perfect at the same time. I’d never seen Ian lament over leaving a place as he did the next morning. He did just enough of everything in six days to realize that six days wasn’t enough. While I think nearly three years was plenty of time for me, I can expect that my last day here, much like Ian’s, will still be filled with a similar sweet sorrow.

The week Ian came to explore one last state with me was not only a good epilogue to our summer road trip, but also a good ending to my time in Hawaii.

My hat: the past. My shirt: the future.

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Young Man Went West #41: Jump Cuts 2 – Return of the Lazy Blogger

I’ve missed my last few blog post deadlines. This is due in part by 1) the lack of an obvious and easy story to tell, and 2) the fear of having to live up to the length and/or poignancy of my previous blog posts. But a writer’s gotta write, right? So, instead of failing to turn in an awe-inspiring post, I’ll instead successfully turn in. . . words.

Here they are.

  • Two Sundays ago, I spent the entire day with my girlfriend’s dad. He asked me to help him record the audio of his Filipino organization’s bamboo band. It was just me and him on a mini-roadtrip to Waipahu, eating Filipino food all day, and playing around with a lot of expensive recording equipment. He seemed more at ease with me, and in turn, so was I around him. We ended that day by going out to dinner with the rest of his family.
  • My transfer to the Times Square Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in New York is pretty much set. It turns out, my manager had trained the person who is now manager at that location. He shot her an e-mail about me, giving me full stamp of approval. She said I just had to walk in and ask for her. Immediate income will be nice to have for the big move.
  • The last Sunday, I spent the morning with Mr. Bautista again. We finished covering the rest of his roof with reflective coating. Not only did the job flow more easily since we were seasoned pros and well-equipped (I bought a paint roller), but our conversation flowed more easily as well. I was less concerned with trying to impress him, and he seemed more comfortable around me. Even Mrs. Bautista seemed a lot less awkward talking to me. We ate out for lunch at a dim sum place, just me, Mr. and Mrs. Bautista, and Sam. Jenn was still at work, so she missed out on the deliciousness.
  • Now that it’s May, I have to focus on how to deal with all the stuff I’ve accumulated in Hawaii. I have to either pack it, sell it, or give it away. I really don’t have too much junk to deal with, it’s just that most of it is too insignificant to deal with in the first place. What am I going to do with my collection of cool beer bottles, for instance, or my worn out shoes? Eh, I guess I’ll be forced to figure it out eventually.
  • As a server trainer, I get to know almost every new person that starts working at Bubba’s. Lately, most of them have been really cool, and I’m a little sad that I won’t be spending much longer working side-by-side with them. It is somewhat rewarding turning newbies into fellow coworkers. Pretty soon, I’ll be the newbie.
  • Right now, my buddy Ian is crashing on my couch. This is the same Ian that roadtripped around the US with me last summer. I guess he wasn’t done couchsurfing in other states. It’ll be fun playing host and tour guide one last time; I’ll get to re-explore this place before I leave.
  • Bullet points are easy ways to convey ideas without needing to organize them.

My Future Workplace

And there you have my latest blog. Don’t worry, these will get more interesting when I move.

Until next time, Internet people!

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