The cool Waikiki night area, a slight breeze, a hint of rain drops here and there embraced us as we talked.
“I was hoping this was where we were going!”
It was almost five years ago to the day that my friend Vince and I had reconnected not far from where we spoke. Back then it had been a few years since we’d seen each other and it was on this night we were saying Aloha once more as he was making the move to Kyoto, Japan the next day.
“I remember seeing you, but it was around the time you injured your leg.”
Yes, I’d torn my calf, had been writing about how the year before I was emotionally, but because I lived through that and became all the better for it, I knew that I would endure being torn physically.
“I saw you and was like, ‘Is that Jay?’ but you were walking with the stick.’
Hobbling is more accurate. Like an old, man, staying the course. I’d never been in so much physical pain in my life, each step, slow, each movement causing me to wince. It didn’t help that this was pre-Obamacare and I didn’t have medical.
After I wrapped up camp beneath The Tree, I took more shifts with him at the hank’s haute dogs in IMP. I helped build that location, just as I’d been the first employee at the original location. Vince, he and come and gone many times before. Hank, Henry, a mentor, a friend, an Uncle, and a father figure to us both.
It’s funny how your spiritual family manifests and weaves itself together, isn’t it? Even more fascinating are the parallels in out lives that it brings.
We began our weekly ritual the night we started working more together, from the end of 2011 throughout 2012 tapping into a part of 2013. This ritual? To ascend to the highest point we could and watch the world around us. In this case, our mountain top was a parking structure, sitting adjacent to the famous International Market Place. Our peace pipe? A few cold beers.
“Damn Vince, why do you drink so much? My friends asked me in Japan. I told them it’s ‘Pau Hana,’ and you do it at the end of every shift back home.”
As I thought about what best to do in wishing him off, it seemed only fitting that we share one last pau hana atop that mountain, before he went into the unknown of his next chapter, and I walked into mine.
Mirrors. Reflections. Fragments of who we are can be seen in the shadows that dance all around us. If you listen close, you’ll also find the echoes of their movements as they do their dance.
I’m not going to cry, I said. There was some Truth here. Much of that is because my tears have ran freely as I deal with the ending of a near 4 year relationship and the experiences that come with such a happening.
“That’s not the ground level is it?”
My Buddy asked as we stared out at the new monstrosity that is the new International Market Place.
I recounted all my memories of Waikiki, from being born just down the road in the old Kaiser Hospital, where the Hawaii Prince now stands, chasing older paddler chicks with my cousin at a regatta while we were kids, to watching movies in the now, long gone IMAX Theatre. He recalled his own first memory, that took him to this parking structure and that same IMAX.
“That was so much fun.”
It was. For the rest of my life, I’ll think of us as the Tag Team Champions of the World, defending the title aka when working our Saturday shifts, giving the best customer service out there whilst not taking a bit of crap from anyone.
“I’m going to miss you, Bro.”
I’ll miss you too but I know you’re going to do great because you’ve been one of the greatest teachers in my Life. Though much younger, if I’ve been able to share anything of my mishaps to assist, the fact that you exist and exude such a great Light, has made my Life so much more rewarding. As much as I may have inspired you, you don’t know how much you inspire me.
That is the way I feel towards so many.
Even those in the most pain. In the case of my friend here, I’ve seen him at his worse, sad, shocked, hurting, and I’ve seen him at his best, carefree, full of life. As we finished up our pint cans of Sapporo, I cherished every sip, my heart both lifted and grew heavy, knowing this experience was coming to a close.
New chapters. I’m so grateful to have encountered such great spirits like this in my life. Though we’re not going to be so close physically to hang out, it’s the memories we made, the memory of just being present one last time in our old stomping grounds, and the prospect of memories to come that mean so much
I love you, Bro. Enjoy every step on this Journey. And never let anyone make you doubt that you do not deserve to.