Lost, Found, London

 

 

I recently opened a box mailed to me from my mother back home in Hawaii that was sitting in her garage since the late 80’s. I was more than a little nervous thinking about what was inside but I had an idea; memories I wanted gone but wasn’t ready to abandon completely.

Once I finally made the decision to leave the Waikiki stripping life after nine years, moving off the island wasn’t just part of my plan – it was my only plan. I was an exhausted shell of a woman with dark circles under her eyes, over-processed burgundy hair and serious baggage – stuff that no twenty-something ever thinks of as real problems at the time.

My predicaments included snorting excessive amounts cocaine, washing down handfuls of Molly (ecstasy) with vodka and a 300 calorie-a-day meal plan (on purpose). I was oblivious to the cloud of despair circling me like Pig-Pen’s shadow in Charlie Brown.

And those were the good days.

I hadn’t given this cardboard crate of history much thought as the years passed. Then Mom called. She was planning a garage sale and my stomach turned a bit, remembering what was stashed behind the lawnmower and potting soil. Upon her discovering my stash, she gave me two choices: toss the box or have it mailed to California, where I was trying to build some sort of a normal life.

“Just promise me you won’t open it.” I asked as she confirmed my zip code over the phone. Mom is aware of my past, but her reading my old journals was nothing she ever needed to do (journals are hand-written notes before blogs were blogs, and the internet was just the inside of a basketball hoop).

After a few days, the box arrived. I ignored its existence for a week until curiosity unraveled my fear.

Upon each new discovery, I vacillated between shock and amazement that I dared to live such a life, and gratitude wrapped with joy in that I survived.

A little advice: If you have personal items from years ago tucked away somewhere, dust them off and buckle up. The memories are incendiary – in the best of every way.

One of my favorite artifacts was a poem I wrote while traveling through Europe. Nineteen and elated to be so far from home, I marinated in the moment while scribbling on a piece of notepaper from Horniman At Hays.

How amazing, to unfold corners of my mind after all these years:

Never think
Before paper meets ink
Just let it go
Don’t have to know
Begin
at the beginning
and all will come out beautifully

Christine Macdonald – 1987

~ ~ ~

Sometimes the answers live inside the person we were long ago – we just need to accept who we are now to fully appreciate who we were then.

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“If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found.” ~Author Unknown
 

 *Originally posted March 2008; edited 4/4/18.

Christine Macdonald

Isn’t it Ironic? (from Waikiki, post 1)

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.

Christine Macdonald