Most people who've been there know what I'm talking about; there is simply something about stepping off the jet at Honolulu International Airport that can't be easily put into words.
Such was our experience in Feburary 1996. The dream had been building for a time. When I was young, thoughts of Hawaii were virtually non-existent. It was a place where people went on vacation. It also was a place which had no special allure to me other than "yeah, maybe I'd like to go there someday". And then my thoughts would turn to whatever mundane concerns occupied my mind on that particular day.
My wife (girlfriend in 1993) had made an off-hand comment one night while we were engrossed in our pizza at the Shamrock Bar that she had always wanted to get married on a Hawaii beach wearing a bikini. I chuckled at the time, thinking this was somewhat of a lark.
By the time the proposal had been said a year later and she was wearing that ring, it was more than just a lark to us. As it turned out, she was dead serious about this. My initial attitude was more of compliance than of anything else; this attitude would change drastically as the departure drew closer.
Let there be no mistake about this; the flight over there is not fun. Not unless you define "fun" being crammed into the cattle car (known as "coach" to most) on a DC-10 for several hours, with only a stopover in Seattle to break the monotony. Anticipation of where we would be in a short time helped. Having my bride-to-be in the seat next to me helped as well.
The smell when we stepped off the plane was astounding. Flowers? Citrus? It was something that reminded me a bit of a similar trip a friend and I had taken to Phoenix in March 1987.
With our late arrival at the hotel (8 p.m.) our first night was a simple ritual of plunking our bags down on the bed and heading out to see Waikiki Beach for the first time. Between the sights of the ocean, the feel of the sand beneath our feet and the warm tropical air that brushed over us, the anticipation changed to an unbelievable reality of being in a place which could not have been a part of the United States. Yet it was.
Those eleven days were a blur. The memories in our minds (and, of course, on video tape), remain. The wedding (which almost didn't work out, more in a later journal entry), the activities, swimming in the Pacific, were things which we could only had imagined how wonderful they would be. Every moment was to be savored as a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Well, not exactly once. We'll be back there shortly. How could one pass up the opportunity at a return trip??
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