More than a feeling

On the heels of Saturday’s post, let’s talk.

Something made me hang on to that tattered cocktail napkin for 22 years. Something inside my spirit believed in what Dan saw. Just like something stopped me dead in my tracks, on what was to be my last night on the stripper pole at the age of 28. Sure, I made the choice to leave, but something ignited that decision.

Stripper, housewife, student, executive – no matter what your story – we all have those moments, standing with our hands in the air at the fork in our ever-winding roads. Our toes planted firmly in the soil, as our eyes pierce down each path, searching for clues on which way to turn.

Sometimes the answer is clear, and we don’t miss a step. Other moments present themselves, and we haven’t a clue where to go. Then there are those lovely situations, in which the decisions couldn’t be more obvious, but we’re in such denial, we can barely breathe with our heads so far in the sand. But time waits for no one, and our journey must continue, so we eventually land on a path, and keep plugging along.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me joke about the devil and angel on my shoulder. They’re always

Christine Macdonald

A beautiful reminder

I arrived Thursday afternoon and by sunset, was in a heated debate with my sister. It’s oddly refreshing to know some things never change. After a few minutes of strong opinions, I offered to agree to disagree and changed the subject. The topic of our conversation doesn’t matter; she and I are just too different to ever see eye to eye, and it’s totally okay with me. I just need to remember to bite my lip.

Aside from The Sister Throw Down, my trip home for Dick’s funeral went better than I imagined. Mom held up great, and I was there to hold her hand throughout the service and reception at The Elks Club.

Going back to the club was less emotional than expected. Perhaps it’s because this trip wasn’t about me. Still, walking through the dining room, taking in the views of the surf and sand, I was reminiscent.


From the canoe, headed out to sea

I’m so grateful to have reconnected with my step-brother, David (Dick’s son), through this natural course of events. And even though he was unable to make the trip home, I felt his presence greatly.

In an exchange of very personal emails, David helped remind me of all the fun times we shared growing up, especially at The Elks Club. I am so grateful he did, because in an attempt to erase the bad times, I forgot about good ones. David helped bring them back.  

During the reception, a couple of family members spoke, including Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is Dick’s cousin by marriage. Peter’s speech was amazing. He captured Dick’s essence of being a real pain in the ass, without any disrespect or malice. The room was filled with laughter and we all spoke of Dick’s positive attributes, rather than harp on his negative shortcomings.

Soon after the speeches, I was off to the canoe to scatter Dick’s ashes at sea, which was his wish. Other than the two paddlers, I was alone in the boat. I said some final words to Dick, and released his ashes to the warm Waikiki waters. In Hawaiian tradition, I scattered flowers in the water and the canoe paddlers raised their paddles and we shared a moment of silence.

The rest of my trip was all about spending time with family – including some one on one time with two of my best friends, Allyn and Joey. I haven’t seen Joey in 14 years, so there was a ton of catching up to do!

Allyn and Joey knew me when. They witnessed my addiction and held me up every time I fell. No matter how many years it’s been, our conversations are effortless and always pick up as if no time passed at all.

I always learn a little about myself when I go back to Hawaii. I still call it home, although I’ve realized there’s a juxtaposition of “Home” now, which includes Southern California. I’ve built a life for myself here and am so grateful for my friends off the island as well.

As predicted, this trip home to the islands was indeed, a full circle experience. I didn’t fall back into the girl I once was, and recognized the little things I did that kept myself on a healing path.

My mother still worked my last nerve at times (don’t they all?) and I accepted the reality that my sister is a great person, who I have nothing in common with except for our DNA.

Before heading to the airport I snuck a copy of The Moment book in my niece, Sydney’s suitcase. My sister and mom don’t speak of the book (because it would shed light on my stripping and drug addiction – and they never speak of that), but I know my niece is aware of my past. I also know, no matter how close she is to her mom (my sister), she has never judged me or thought less of me for my past experiences.

It’s important for me that Sydney has this book. She’s 21, in love, and graduating college this year. And although my life at 21 was worlds apart from where her life is now, we all want the same things.

We all just want to discover our true selves, what we are born to do, and to love and be loved, for who we are – not what people want us to be.

It took me decades of poor choices and lessons learned the hard way, but I’m exactly where I am supposed to be right now; this trip home was a beautiful reminder.

“Sometimes you have to grow up before you appreciate how you grew up.”  – Daniel Black

Christine Macdonald

Back to the Clubs (from Waikiki, post 3)

The weather was perfect for an evening stroll. I started up Kuhio Avenue with the plan to hail a cab a few blocks in. I missed flagging taxi’s. Waikiki may not be your typical “big city” lifestyle but it’s still the type of place you can walk everywhere and when your feet tire, there’s always a cab to rescue you.

The familiarity started within two blocks of my walk. I noticed a man I used to party with – still passing out Booze Cruise tickets to young tourists. His hair was still long, like he was an extra in a Pearl Jam video. He did a double take at me when I walked by and for a second, we stopped with that “don’t I know you?” look. Not one for exchanging small talk with long-lost acquaintances from my party past, I kept walking.

The taxi dropped me off right in front of Femme Nu. This is the first [nude] club I worked in. I was just 21 when I started working there and didn’t know what to expect 21 years later. The bouncer at the door checked my purse, pulled out my camera and handed me a claim check ticket. As a tourist of Waikiki, I always have my camera in tow. I didn’t even think about taking photos inside the clubs, but it made me happy the security was tight. I worked in a different time where we didn’t have to worry if a nude photo was plastered all over the internet – there was no internet!

Once entering the club I was overcome with nostalgia, excitement and a little bit of fear. I sat at the bar, ordered a vodka cranberry and soaked it all in. The dancers seemed bored, as it was just 8:00 and the crowd was thin. After my second drink I asked the bartender for some ones and made my way to tip the girls.

“I have to support the ladies” I said, as I walked up to each of them smiling.

“Thank you!” They looked at me, smiling, wondering what my story was.

After introducing myself a couple of the gals and I chatted and they were excited to meet someone from “the old days” – someone who had stories.

I told them how different the club was, how the stages changed, the bar was on the opposite side of the club, etc. They marveled in my stories of how we used to dance on this jet stream runway – complete with shower stage and glow in the dark body wash.

I noticed each dancer had a personal pillow and was blown away by the fact that not one of the girls was actually standing up for long. They all knelt down and performed shows for the men on their knees!

“What’s up with the pillows?”

“Oh that started in the late 90s”

“It’s got to be better on your feet!”

“Oh yea – you used to dance, right?”

“Yea – in spiky shoes. Clear platform heels weren’t round back then.” I felt old but proud to be there, sharing my stories. It was nice to show them there is life after the pole.

After chatting a while with the girls I made my way to Club Rock-Za across the street. As soon as I walked in, the door man remembered me, gave me a hug and waived the cover charge. I was then greeted by Yvonne, the owner, who recognized me right away. I was so surprised to receive such a warm reception, and felt a little touched I was even remembered.

The ladies at Rock-Za had pillows too and I sat at the bar in amazement at the floor shows I was seeing.

In both clubs I noticed a lot more body art. Each girl displayed a fair amount of tattoos – something I don’t remember seeing back in my day. They also seemed younger to me, but I’m sure that’s because I am so much older now. I also noticed the lack of drugs. As a long time career party girl, I can usually tell if someone is high. I didn’t pick up that vibe once from any of the dancers. Another difference I spotted right away was the rise of their bottoms. Every gal there wore their bikini bottoms (or panties) very low waisted. I felt so old-school, thinking to myself how high-up-the-thigh we used to wear ours.

After a couple hours and a hand full of drinks, I decided I was ready to leave. I saw what I wanted, met some great ladies and came full circle.

I was surprised I wasn’t more emotional. I suppose it’s because I am at peace with part of my life I no longer feel controlled by. Walking in to my past was comfortable, but walking away felt even better.

Christine Macdonald