Living in Hawaii for any length of time teaches you one lesson for sure, people leave. They leave for many reasons, including being told to by the military, for better jobs and opportunities, for a larger dating pool or because they realize that these islands are really, really far from their family and loved ones. It takes some people longer than others. Some make it here. Lots don’t. And when your people start leaving, it is difficult. Sure you find new ones. But then, sometimes, they leave too.
I have been in Hawaii a long time. Apparently more than 14 years since I was here on 9/11 and that was yesterday. I have lost a lot of people to the mainland. And at this point in life, my circle is kind of smallish so to lose anyone now is tough to take. I find myself not wanting to see the leaving person. As if that will prevent it from actually happening. I know that this is ridiculous. But I can’t help it. I must seem like such a dick but really, it is just to prevent me from crying and crying.
Someone left. Today as a matter of fact. And, the thing is that I did not see her a whole lot. I fed her sometimes, bringing food to work when I had overcooked for my family. We took her along on family outings sometimes. She came for dinner at our place. Helped me hang stuff on the walls. And helped me assemble a desk once. She designed my son’s cool Ikea
based loft bed which is totally awesome. She was the person who I thought would never leave because she loved it here. She is an avid surfer, and let’s just admit it, is cute as a button. She is talented, smart and fun to be around. If anyone was going to stay forever, it would have been her. But she is on a plane right now to Portland. To start a new life. A cheaper life. Maybe a more professionally rewarding life. A life a little closer to her family.
So as much as I wanted to hide away and pretend that today was not going to happen. I booked a room for us to go and sing karaoke. I know, you mainland types scoff at karaoke. And perhaps I did too at one point. But the beauty of the private karaoke room is that you can sing your head off and sound like a cat being put through a paper shredder and no one cares. And the way that we do karaoke, everyone sings. You don’t need a microphone. You just sing. This is really fun. Especially when a song hits that sweet spot where everyone knows, likes and can sing it and for a moment everyone’s voices join in song.
Someone described this on FB as “joy”. And I started thinking about that and completely agree. I am not a church goer but there is something joyful and meaningful in this. It reminds me of when I was a kid and forced to attend Catholic service with my parents. Sometimes, in the basement of the church, there was a service with young people playing guitars. I loved it. Then there was the time that A Prairie Home Companion came to Hawaii and the entire audience was asked to sing this old hymn. It was for Memorial Day and all of those voices, singing together, was quite moving.
Singing karaoke may not reach the level of a Catholic mass but there is something to be said for letting out your inner Madonna or Steve Perry (how I date myself). There is something about singing with your friends in a room. At the top of your lungs. With no judgement. When all the voices come together as one. It is joyful. That is how we bid adieu to my fair friend Anna. We wish her the best in her new state and hope that sooner rather than later we will have the opportunity to come together with one voice. Even if it is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Happy trails friend, we love you.