|My view in Waikiki this morning|
Mom picked me up yesterday afternoon and greeted me with a beautiful Tubarose Lei (one of my favorites flowers) and we had a lovely time catching up over lunch at Duke’s Restaurant in Waikiki Beach. It’s strange to be a tourist in a land I once called home. I used to feel compelled to tell anyone trying to give me the “Aloha, welcome to Hawaii” speech that “I am from here”. These days, I am not so eager to prove my Kamaiina (local) status as I am just wanting to soak it all in.
The drive from the airport to Waikiki was interesting. I rode past Sand Island Street – where I worked [as a stripper] for a few months. I drove my little moped all the way out to the airport to work there. I forgot about that moped and all those nights driving at 3:00 am with a bag full of dollar bills in tow.
Being here in Waikiki has delivered so many memories. Within the walls of nearly every building is a story where I once played a part. I have either lived, partied, or both in so many of them it’s hard to differentiate between the hazy lines of my past.
Then there is the irony.
Up since 5:30 am Hawaiian Time (8:30 am PT) this morning, I went for coffee and eggs at Denny’s on Kuhio Avenue. I used to end my nights there at 4:00 am, so it was familiar territory at such an early (or late) hour. As soon as I walked in the restaurant, I spotted two 20-something girls in a booth by the window. I immediately pegged them as strippers who were out for breakfast after a long night’s work. My assumptions proved spot on, as I sat in the booth next to them and overheard their conversation. I thought of how many nights I sat in this very restaurant with co-workers talking about customers, tips, and the other dancers.
I wanted to interrupt them:
“Hi ladies – my name is Christine and I used to be a stripper. I know you will think I am crazy but I am writing a book and would love to chat with you a little…”
I decided against it.
By the time I left the restaurant the sun was peaking out, stretching her arms slowly above Diamond Head, so I decided to take a walk along beach.
I wasn’t surprised to see joggers on the sidewalk at this hour. I remember when I used to party all night until 7:00 am and seeing the joggers was a sign that I needed to go home. There were tourists sipping coffee, walking on the sand and taking photos – so I grabbed my camera and shot some photos right along with them.
Being up at dawn in Waikiki SOBER is a first for me. It feels good to walk along the early-risers without being high on cocaine.
As I walked back from the beach, I realized how nice it was that I didn’t have to hide myself from anyone this morning. This got me thinking. Perhaps this trip is more than an excursion of a place where I once lived, but rather, it’s a journey back to my true self.
To read the continuation of my journey back home click here.