Tuesday, December 16, 2008

i had a great day

things happen on island time. remember that? yeah, i do, but impatience sneaks up like a little jerk and tries to make me forget. i have learned the absolute key to surviving here--talking to people. that's it!
bold and brave as i wish i was, it's talking to people, random people, that i avoid. i'm not afraid of them, i just don't want to bother them, and this is the very issue i am overcoming (due to necessity). no one gets jobs on craigslist here, or from the newspaper, or from walking in and handing over resumes, you gotta know someone who knows someone. and the amazing part is that already i've run into VERY helpful people who want to recommend me just because i'm there and talking to them. like last night at the alibi, i met 'zhena', a heavily perfumed, sparkle nailed goddess in her 50's who knows the bar manager at coquis--a bar i want to work in. she helps people get their medical marijuana cards, a job she got because she met someone who knew the guy who.....you get the idea. she, much like me, is not doing what she is educated to do--she is a college professor but can't get that work on the island. when she first came here she worked at a gas station. she wanted to stay here so she did what she had to do, and now she is happy and never leaving. i tried to imagine what that was like, to be a college professor who, needing a job in a job-dry area, was working for minimum wage at a gas station in her late 40's, and i realized it would be humbling, like if i had to work at mcdonalds. and i then realized that working at mcdonalds wouldn't be that bad, it might be funny. the thing that keeps me from going there is how i'd explain that to the people who know me. an exercise in how my perceived "everybody" would react, but really, who would care? my ex-boss would snivel, but i hate him, so so what? sometimes it's the people i hate who seem to have the most power. i'm working on breaking that useless burden down.
now, back to the island. today i woke up and called parker ranch, a famous old ranch here that i'd really like to work for taking people on trail rides or serving them dinner. i didn't get to talk to anyone, but left a message for the lady in human resources. then i made some tea and sat down to contemplate how i could conquer my fears. just then, the phone rang. it wasn't parker ranch, but a lovely french accent asking me if i was still available to work in hapuna beach. i didn't actually recall what job she was talking about, but i said 'yes' nonetheless. she'd like to meet me at my earliest convenience, ok, how's about in 3 hours i say. that would be wonderful. we hung up and my spirits rose considerably. i got clean and put on a cute vintage dress and the best shoes ever, tied a bow in my hair and grabbed my bathing suit. i was headed for one of the best beaches on the island, two hours away.
the drive starts in the jungle, where i live, with dense walls of green lining the roadway, flowers bursting forth from the tangled organism. the air more like mist feeding the veins of this concentrated jumble of living. a few miles later and i'm headed up the hamakua coast where the land starts to pull away vertically from the ocean. lush green canopies of tall trees, deep gorges cut into the coast like wrinkles on weathered skin, i climb up and over old railroad bridges of dizzying height, through tiny villages with enormous names, and next thing i know i'm in a eucalyptus forest. the grasses are different, less green and more yellow, the jungle tapers off and the mist clears. elevation increasing with visibility and fences appear holding cattle and horses, old bathtubs serve as drinking fountains, and wooden signs mark ranch entrances, just like i'm out west. the town of waimea aka kamuela has a distinctly western appeal, complete with a dry wind, a country store, a couple steak houses, and on it's western edge, parker ranch, a huge holding where the first horses and cattle on this island called home.
past waimea, the lava rears it's head, claiming more and more ground as i go. i've crossed the midline of the island and am now headed down the other side. cactus and stubby golden grasses stake their claim on the lava, trying their damnedest to civilize it. but the further i go, the more the lava wins, finally obliterating any trace of vegetation, a dry black land of sharp rock which seems impossible to travel on, yet the road is. it goes on this way for quite some time, for miles on either side of the road people have 'graffiti-ed' the lava with white seashells, writing their names and who they love and what year it was then. eco-graffiti i guess.
then, a little further north, there are pockets of green, well manicured hedges and pedigreed palm trees frame the entrances to upscale resorts and residences. places poverty is forgotten and luxury is expected. i pass a few of these portals before i reach the entrance to 'prince hapuna beach hotel and golf course' where i turn in. the gentleman at the gate welcomed me to the resort and i gave him the name of the house where i was expected. he repeated it, gently correcting my pronunciation, smiled kindly and opened the gate. i drove in and was transported to what seemed like another time. a time when people drove motorcars and wore finery like feathered hats and monocles, when people had a lovely place in the country where they would drive and eat picnics out of wicker baskets and play croquet.
past several fountains, endless perfect grass, the golf course and hotel so luxurious it maintained it's subtlety, i reached my destination--a private residence with a small yacht parked in the driveway. i rang the buzzer and announced myself as the girl who was there about the serving job, then the gates opened for my little economy car. i got out and was greeted by 'olivier', a tall tanned french man with the ocean in his eyes and an easy smile. he led me into the house, through the massive open living area, past the bustling kitchen and bar and into the small office where i met 'tasha', my interviewer. she was also french, mind you, and leggy and thin and as impossibly nice as she was beautiful. she took me over to the employee tent which is where they eat their meals and take breaks, and proceeded to tell me about the job. it's a gig basically, when the owners of the house show up, they bring their family and friends and we all serve them. they'll be here from december 17 to january 3 and they are served three meals a day as well as cocktails and such around the pool. i'd be bartending and serving along with 2-4 other servers for 28 dollars an hour, 40 hours a week. not bad, i say. i'll have the job if the waiter they had lined up can't do it because of an emergency in his family. sorry for him, but i hope he's tied up for a while because i really want this job!
the interview went well and afterward i went to the beach since i haven't done that since i got here. i swam in the perfectly temperate water, floating like a sea creature, diving into the waves and hearing the soothing yet awe-inspiring sound of the earth's womb in my ears. after about an hour i swam back to shore and laid on my towel, feeling my heartbeat through the sand and watching the cloudscapes whirl and uncurl as the sun slowly set. the oneness of all things was obvious.
peacefully i wandered toward home, stopping in waimea for dinner where i happened to meet a guy whos friend is opening a bar in honokaa. hmmm...wouldn't it be great if they needed me? he's got my number. i'm really relaxing now. i am being absorbed into the flow.


chris said...

Man, I think I have island envy. You can cruise a bicycle around this thing in less than an hour while eating a sandwich. There's no two hour drive to anything, and it's a little crowded. No jungle. Just littered mangroves.

Your island sounds amazing. Your job prospects and contacts sound like they're out of a child's fairy tale. Good work flopping into a new awesome chapter. For $28 an hour, you'd better go Tanya Harding on that other server...

Jack said...

What an awesome post. Makes me want to work at mcdonalds, so long as I get to live in a place like that. BTW, thinking of taking a job as a dishwasher in the next couple of weeks. Talk about humbling, yet, awesome.



Shannon said...

:) Big Smile right now. We love you.

Heather said...

A few things...

1. I could read you writting about Hawaii all day. I loved it there. I was driving to the resort with you, talking to the locals, swimming in the ocean.

2. I need some pictures. Of your awesome little car, of you home. PICTURES!!

3. I have never been happier and more jealous of anyone in my whole life. If I was not married and happy I would want to be were you are. You're a true nomad and I love it.

4. Don't sell yourself short. You are one of the bravest people I know.

5. Are you on the Big Island? How long do you plan to stay there? Ter & my 10 year anniversary is in June and I was trying to talk him in to doing something big, like going back to Hawaii. It would be great if we had a local tour guide...hint hint! ;)

stranger in a strange van said...

y'all, come here! seriously as soon as i get set up with job/home, i want visitors nonstop! i will become your ultimate tour guide. life will be fun, guaranteed.