Monday, July 30, 2012

Wedding Gifts from Hawaii

1.  The people.  

A party at the ranch home of new Hawaii friends.

The musicians played for hours, and all the species danced.

 2.  The water.
The international "life rocks!" sign.

Taking the plunge after taking the plunge.

 3.  The animals. 

This guy has been hanging out in our condo.

No need for speed.

Dave and the dolphins.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Destination: Wedding

Here's the wonderful thing about a destination wedding:  You get to spend days with family and friends.  The celebration stretches out into shared experiences, in our case hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, zip-lining, swimming, and just hanging out.

Dave and the three sisters on the Pico Kai.

There's something about spending such quality time together at a seminal time in life that makes it so rich.

One of our most amazing adventures was on the Pico Kai.  To be able to share adventures like this with my family was an exquisite treasure.

Snorkeling at Mauna Kea.

Because a number of us stayed at the cottages or nearby, we'd spontaneously create moments together to just sit around and talk, sipping wine and watching the waves. 

At the Lava Lava Beach Club

Speaking of the Lava Lava, they did an incredible job with our wedding and reception.

Reception masterpiece.

We are now on our honeymoon for a few weeks in paradise--and we continue to share it with some loved ones who are lingering for a few more days.  The camaraderie, the love, is palpable.

Shaka nuptials.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dream Come True

For years I've dreamed about what happened today.

I glided in the water with a manta ray.  Her undulating fins flicked at the edges as she slid through the sea.  With the aid of my snorkel, I floated above her for a long time, mesmerized by her beauty.

magical manta
But that's not all.  Dave, my sisters, and our friend Lari also swam with dozens of dolphins and a huge sea turtle in our four hours on the water.  The dolphins were playful and at times came quite close to us.

All this was made possible because of the amazing women who run Blue Connection Hawaii.  Being with them was a sweet experience because the small boat, with is maximum of six guests, fosters an intimate experience.  The crew is so friendly and knowledgeable.  And one of them is a mermaid!

As they took us around on a snorkel tour, we encountered a few other boats packed with people.  That made me happy to be one of three people sitting on the bow of our boat as it booked across the waters.

The boat's name is Piko Kai:  umbilical cord to the sea.  I certainly felt like I was in the womb of the universe today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wild about Cheryl and Dave

Cheryl Strayed's Wild, her captivating memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, is like potato chips.  Those yummy, addictive, thick-cut kind.  I've been eating for hours, the bag is still half-full, and I can't put it down.  Fortunately, unlike chips, the book isn't fattening.
Wild about Cheryl

We leave for Hawaii in two days.  I'm not packed.  Still have laundry to do. And this blog entry to write.  And eggs to stuff with poems. And I've completed only two of my four syllabi for fall.  I'm justifying my hours with the book because it's a fat hardback that would take up too much space in my carry-on.  I need to finish it so I can bring a small paperback instead.

As I read the book, I'm reminded of the only time I did something similar:  I once hiked alone for five hours across a volcano.  On the very island we are going to Monday to get married.

Wild about Dave
Then again, I suppose another similar event would be having sold everything I owned at age 29 and taking off to Japan alone to teach English.  My first taste of sushi was on the flight across the Pacific.  My first attempt to learn some Japanese phrases also occurred on that flight, as I was tutored by the passenger sitting next to me.  I was as unprepared for Japan as Cheryl was for the trail.  But I plunged off the cliff and, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury, my wings unfolded on the way down.

It's fun to be reminded of all of these life adventures now as I'm embarking on a lovely new chapter of my life:  Marrying Dave.  It's wonderful to be creating a life together, enriched by our combined 100 years of experience.  We've both had our "starter marriages" (okay, I've had two, but who's counting).  We've both traveled the world--often alone.  We've both been enriched on the journey of discovering what's important to us.

In other words, we come together as veterans of life, complete with scars and medals (dare I say Purple Hearts?) and the camaraderie of a rich group of friends. 

Forty of these friends will be with us in Hawaii.

Beach at A-Bay

Initially we thought our wedding would be a tiny affair--just Dave, me, and two witnesses with our toes in the sand.  We'd decided on this tact after we serendipitously discovered that at the same time we'd planned to be on the Big Island, his sister and brother-in-law would also be there.  Soon after we'd decided on north of Kona as our wedding spot, we sent out an Evite to some close friends and family  inviting them to join us if they were so inclined.  We had no expectations that more than four or five would come.  In fact, we let everyone know we'd have a one-year anniversary party in Santa Cruz next summer so we could all celebrate together.

Suddenly RSVP's were rolling in.  More people than we'd imagined were jazzed about a destination wedding.  Dave fantasized that we'd be able to stay with these friends in a beach-front locale, spend a lot of time together before and after the wedding.

So I contacted my friend Amy, who lives on the Big Island, to ask if she had some ideas.  She told me about a brand-new place being built on the very beach where I'd imagined getting married.  It wasn't open yet but would be by July.  She described it as beautiful, toes-in-the-sand, casual yet elegant.  She said Scott, the guy opening the place, was well-known on the island as an excellent restauranteur.

Lava Lava bungalow lanai
I contacted Scott who told me that the new Lava Lava Beach Club had an open-air restaurant, four bungalows, and a private party spot right on the beach.  Fast forward:  Our "non-rehearsal" dinner is taking place at the restaurant, our wedding and reception in the private party spot, and our friends have filled the bungalows. 

And how's this for another serendipity:  Dave's long-time friend Jim reconnected with a cousin who lives in Kona to tell her he'd love to see her again.  Turns out, this cousin is best friends with Scott, the Lava Lava Beach Club owner.  Now the cousin and her husband are joining us for the non-rehearsal dinner.

Jim told Dave and me that he's grateful that this wedding is reconnecting his family.  The wedding has also brought together two new couples.  One of Dave's long-time friends, and one of mine, have each invited a new amiga to Hawaii. 

And to top it off:  Two couples we'd invited had already tossed around the idea of coming to Hawaii to celebrate their joint 10-year wedding anniversaries.  So getting the Evite was like a message from the universe shouting, YES, do it!  Years ago, these couples met through each other.  The woman from one couple was the wedding officiant at the other couple's wedding.  And vice-versa, the man in the other couple officiated at the other wedding.  Each couple has a nine-year-old (one's a girl, one's a boy), who are best friends and will be throwing flower petals on everyone at our ceremony.

friends old and new

As if that's not sister threw me a GNO party (I'm too seasoned to call it a "bachelorette").  The limo-ride-wine-tasting-dinner-and-dancing bacchanalia brought together an array of my friends, creating a whole new web of interconnections.  In the aftermath, it's been fabulous to see all of them friending each other on Facebook.  The web expands!

The GNO event had quite a profound effect on my friend Daisy, which she wrote about so eloquently on her blog.  I'm flushed with gratitude as I read what she wrote.  She captured the fact that life experiences lead one to the next.

We get to choose:  Will the past drag us down, or will it enrich who we are? 


Sunday, July 8, 2012


As friend and I walked through my neighborhood this morning she said, "This place is a wonderland."  Perfume of jasmine.  Patchwork of homes small and big.  Sea air and blue-green waves.  Beaches that stretch mile after mile.  Seaside amusement park that's colorful in the daylight, and animated with moving lights at night.  Yes, I've thought the same thing about Santa Cruz over and over:  Wonderland.  Wonderland.  Wonderland.

I guess that makes me Alice. There are times I feel a bit like I've eaten the magic mushroom just because of the beauty here--or maybe it's the infusion of negative ions. 

Santa Cruz shines even in a photo taken on an old iPhone.

Now that it's summer, there are a lot more people on the beaches than when we moved here in December.  It struck me today, as Dave and I played Frisbee in the sand, that all the people around us were happy.  Blissed-out people sunbathed, ate, drank, played guitars, and nursed babies on blankets.  Others snapped photos of their laughing friends.  Everyone screams joyfully when they are close to the water's edge and a wave sneaks up on them.  Even (or especially) the dogs seem high on something, walking with an extra bounce in their step.

We live two blocks from the beach, and sometimes at night I wake up to hear roaring, crashing waves--or barking sea lions.  Some mornings we walk a block to our local cafe, get a coffee and a cherry turnover, and walk to our favorite bench overlooking the water.  

My dad always loved the ocean.  We lived hours from it, but whenever we went to a beach together, he'd insist we watch the sunset.  He said there was something special about watching the sun sink into the water.  You could see time pass.  It was a reminder of the evanescence of life.  Dad wanted to suck every moment from every day.  Living in Santa Cruz makes me feel that way.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language" Henry James

After a month of traveling, it's great to be back home.  I've been relishing writing, reading, planning my fall classes, finishing up wedding details, and just enjoying seeing the familiar with fresh eyes. Travel is a windshield wiper that cleans off the glass through which we view home.

We're getting married at this spot in Hawaii later this month.
Santa Cruz weather has been warm and sunny. We quickly morphed from post-travel-unpacking-and-regrouping to entertaining mode.  We've had overnight guests and an on-the fly dinner party, hung out with friends downtown for a movie and great meal, and saw a free concert at the Boardwalk.

I'm reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, who dated Alan Lanier of Blue Oyster Cult.
That concert was Blue Oyster Cult, a band I first saw 30 years ago.  My favorite lyrics from one of their hits are:  "Seasons don't fear the reaper.  Nor do the winds and the summer rain.  We can be like they are."

I felt the freedom of flowing with the seasons, with life, as I took a run today.  I:

trestle bridge

* ran from my house across the trestle bridge
* passed by the Boardwalk's creaking and plunging roller coaster
* passed dozens of beach volleyball players
* cruised up the hill by the Dream Inn

Laural and me in the back car.

* ran a few miles along West Cliff, a pedestrian-only walkway overlooking the ocean
* enjoyed Vs of pelicans swooping by

Dave likes to photograph the beasts

* mentally high-fived the surfer statue
* passed the lighthouse
* viewed kayakers, surfers, swimmers, dogs, frisbee-players

Main Beach opalescence

* turned around at Natural Bridges
* enjoyed the mostly downhill cruise back
* and stopped at Cowell's beach, where I took off my shoes to refresh my hot feet in the cool water and then
* walked down more than half a mile of beach back home.

On my barefoot walk up our street back to our pad, I ran into some former students who happened to be heading to the beach.  We hugged, laughed at the serendipity of our surprise rendezvous, and basked in the summery-ness of it all.

Summer is the long weekend.  June is Friday.  July is Saturday.  August is Sunday.

Happy Saturday!