It was the first in a succession of many false starts of getting my life going. I was flailing around all over the place, so I just kept trying things. Hawaii was the most extreme version of this, but one that, in hindsight, I probably got the most out of. I arrived weeks after a hurricane had devastated the island, certainly not the best timing in the world. Looking for a job and housing proved to be – difficult. But I persevered! I got a job working as a maid on a damaged boat (and fired after I rebuffed the captain's romantic interest in me.) I lived in the most-beautiful YMCA for a week, but never got a wink of sleep because I was so paranoid of bugs. I lived with three giant construction dudes who drank beer like water, and chain-smoked cigarettes. I had to move if I wanted to stay alive. I found a room (a couch) in a hurricane-damaged condo in Princeville that was manned by a hippy couple who were high on spirulina. They ate the stuff like pizza and talked very fast with big wild eyes, telling me how it was a miracle algae that changed their lives and gave them super human powers. They felt a little Spahn Ranch to me, so I started looking for new lodgings.
After about six months of moving from a weird situation to weirder, my luck started to change.
After many failed waitressing jobs, I got lucky and landed a job working on a tour boat as a tour guide that cruised up and down the Nā Pali Coast. I didn't know much about Hawaii, except that it was crawling with some of the hottest guys I have ever seen in my life. My job was to hand out snorkels, Famous Amos Cookies, and point out areas of interest. I didn't know any, so I made up all my own "facts, legends, and lore."The captain did not seem to care at all, and anyone that was actually taking those cruises had no clue either - they just wanted to see dolphins. Who could remember the names of 16 miles worth of jagged coastline cliffs anyway? Besides wearing a bikinito work everyday, my favorite part of the job was launching the boats into the river mouth with an amphibious military vehicle called a gamma goat. I taught myself how to drive it and got good at it. I love vehicles, and driving is one of the few things I'm naturally good at.
Those were strange days for sure. And for sure, the cast of characters I met there are novel-worthy.
My boyfriend at the time looked an awful lot like Robert Redford, but unfortunately, he was not the brightest bulb on the tree, and other than liking me to sit on the beach and watch him surf, the only time I saw him get enthusiastic about anything I did was when I drove that gamma goat. He thought that was just the butter on the spinach. He’d come down to the boat yard to pick me up after work and sit on the edge of some debris or another and smile like a giant goofball. I'd walk over to him after I'd got the cats pulled in and cleaned off, and he would mess up my hair and give me noogies. “My chick is rad” he'd say. I'd smile up at him and think, "What the hell am I doing here?"
I could write a book about the year I lived in Kauai.
Now for The Garden Island. I'll tell you this - while it surely was not the place for me, I learned a lot about the REAL world there. It was a dog eat dog life, and survival was the name of the game. No one put up with any crap there, and at 22 years old, I came with a lot of crap. But I learned, and for that I am grateful.