The day was October 31, 2010.
You might say I got into a car accident. My opinion is that my lifted SUV ate this very sad Acura. My car drove away with a broken headlight, and this other woman’s car was driven away on a tow truck. Fourteen-thousand dollars in damage.
“Are you okay?” Mom asked. She freaked out when I called her but wasn’t really mad. Even though she had to pay for my mistake. She still brings it up.
“Why are you asking me for money, when I’m still paying for your insurance premium?” she says.
“That’s not fair.”
“You’re in college now. Real life. You should be paying this.”
That Halloween night, I just wanted to get to the party, with people I didn’t even like — that was the extent of the relationships I had at the time.
Three weeks later, it was an elderly couple in a teal Camry.
I was blaring the latest and greatest Eminem song through my subs, so loud I didn’t even realize I’d hit anybody, until my car wouldn’t reverse.
My life has been tossed like a salad, mixed like a drink, and pushed off the cliffs into the ocean so many times I don’t even remember. I have never lived in a house for more than three consecutive years. I might as well be a scrambled egg or a protein shake. All I have known my entire life is divorce and dealing with people I secretly loathe.
I am just a girl who could spend every day sitting in a cross-legged position facing the ocean. But when May hits, the kooks come out in full swing. By the time June is here, forget getting all the way up Garnet in under 25 minutes. You’ve got to scavenge for silence up the coastline.
Police officers clocking people left and right on Mission Boulevard. Hair extensions on sidewalks from last night’s bar fight. The shadows from late-night escapades linger on the morning streets.
This young gentleman was slung across the marble countertop at my retail job in Mission Bay.
He purchased something simple: batteries. When tourists come in to a place where all the knick-knacks are plastered with San Diego, this is what they tend to buy.
“Hello,” I said, “is this going to be all for you this afternoon?”
“Enjoy your stay in San Diego?”
Nothing out of the ordinary, but there was that pinched feeling you get in your cheeks when you try not to smile.
He had some leftover sunburn on his nicely chiseled abs. I could see them because he was shirtless. He leaned over my counter, and I had the idea he was getting that same pinching feeling until finally a smile cracked from both of us.
When he spoke, I pinpointed the accent: Texas.
I prefer pineapple to corn-fed.
He was not from around here, and I had to work my counter.
But coming up with a reason not to jump on a flight to Austin after my shift was harder than expected.
There are 12 letters in the Hawaiian language, near half the amount in the westernized English we hear in America today. The beauty of the Polynesian culture radiates from my brown eyes. Behind my curly brown hair, I have always felt that San Diego isn’t the place for me. I was born here, but my soul is Polynesian.
Ho’oipoipo, Pilialoha, ‘ao’ao — the love I have for you, the friendship we acquire, and the way of life.
I get my height from the Swede half of the family, though I rack in at a whopping five-four. I have the ability not to use sunscreen, from my Chamorro ancestors.
Now my life has holes, and gaps. Whether that’s common or not, to me it is fact.
One thing I do remember is the day I was reading through a book on Guam. There were beautiful photos, page by page, each one with a legend. This book was given to my mother by her biological father — the Chamorro bloodline.
There is a legend on the island of Guam. It tells of a woman and man who were madly in love. She refuses to marry her destined suitor and runs away with her native soulmate. When they reach Tumon Bay, they hear footsteps approaching. With the promise of eternal devotion upon their lips, they tie their long, beautiful hair together and throw themselves into the cruel waters below. Puntan Dos Amantes, or Two Lovers Point, in Chamorro. It is an actual place, beautiful, overlooking the thrashing blue ocean.
I have a troubled heart. I now believe that falling in love is like falling for make-believe. Yet this story is so beautiful. Polynesia runs in my veins. Island culture is so beautiful. It is what helps push me to get through these years of community college and to save every dime that I have. I’ll sell my beast of a truck, buy a Vespa, sign my life away for student loans, and become a University of Hawaii student.
At my retail counter, this curly-haired man bought a T-shirt with a credit card. I asked for his ID.
It read “Hawaii.”
I felt my face light up, and then turn to jealousy.
I said, “I cannot wait to see that ID with my name on it.”
He was confused. I elaborated.
“I want to go to school out there. That’s my dream.”
“You better save every last cent you can.”
“I have family out there.” I paused. “I know what I’m doing.”
“Good luck!” he said, and walked away.
It was my first summer out of high school. I remember crying on my way to the airport from my cousin’s house on West Oahu. I did not want to leave — which was pretty much me fighting for a new start. I flew from Honolulu to Las Vegas and then drove to Laughlin. I didn’t want to go to Nevada, but I ended up falling in love there.