In case you didn't know, Hawai'i is gorgeous. The plants, the ocean, the mountains, everywhere you look is just stunning. The weather is always somewhere between 70-80 degrees, not too humid and mostly sunny. It's a kind of paradise. I'm a cold weather guy, personally, but I can certainly understand the appeal. Buildings here are open-air structures, like the huge mall near my friend's condo or the airport, where one take a walkway with a garden on one side and the tarmac on the other on the way to the baggage claim. Everyone wears flip-flips or open-toed shoes and has an amazing tan. Caucasian people are a definite minority through most of the island unless you are in a very tourist/resort heavy area, like by Waikiki beach. Most people are Asian or Native Hawaiian descended, with a goodly amount of Pacific Islanders as well. Lots of signs are in English, Japanese and Korean, and most high-class stores will have staff that are native in various Asian languages. These are the observations I've gathered or discussed during my first day here that I found a bit surprising, but that make total sense in retrospect.
I came to Honolulu to visit my friends Jeremy and Allison. Jeremy and I used to live on the same block when we were younger. His house was kind of kitty-corner behind my house. His family had three boys the same ages as me and my brothers, with an additional younger sister, so they were natural playmates when we moved into the neighborhood. Jeremy and I used to go to his house after school and play Myst on his computer. It was good times. After high school Jeremy headed to Notre Dame and then to the Navy as the nuclear guy for submarines. He was in the Gulf for a while and now he teaches at the submarine training academy here in Hawai'i. He lives here with his fiancee, Allison (wedding is set for July 6th, so they're in the middle of lots of planning and preparation). I've gotten to hang out with Allison at some social functions, like Jeremy's brother Chris's wedding, and she's just fantastic. She works at a Fendi store right now, but her boss is horrid, so she quitting at the end of the week. They live in this amazing condo in Ala Moana area of Honolulu, on the 42nd floor so the views amazing. I seriously want to buy a timeshare for their guest bedroom, and then hang out on their little balcony drinking wine and gazing out at the ocean. But with air conditioning.
I flew in on the 5th and Jeremy picked me up from the airport in his very fast two-seater car (it's a Z350 or something like that). We went back to the condo, met up with Allison, dropped my stuff off and went out to a local bar for a few drinks (raspberry mojitos are delicious) and finally called it a night after I'd been awake for nearly a full 24 hours. I still woke up easily at nine the next morning because my body thought it was three in the afternoon. Allison had to work, but Jeremy was free, so we headed for Diamond Head, a huge crater on the southeastern corner of the island left over from some volcanic activity quite a while ago. It was turned into a military fortification and now it's a site to go and visit for good views of the crater and the city. You hike up a little trail for 15 minutes and get up a few hundred feet and you get to look out at the ocean and at downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. After checking out the view we headed to the dock to go sailing with Jeremy's friends from the submarine school where he teaches, Chuck and Tom. (PS-Chuck and Tom were both rather attractive, nice-bodied guys and I scolded Jeremy that next time he had to warn me when his friends were going to be hot. Chuck is the kind of straight guy that enjoys attention and sexual tension, so he made all kinds of jokes and suggestive remarks throughout the trip. I don't think he knew I was gay and the comments were definitely not homophobic; they were just made in fun, and several times I had to turn away and laugh more than was appropriate.) The boat was Chuck's and it was his first voyage on her since getting back from a 6-month tour in Afghanistan. I'd never been on a sailboat before, so it was really cool to see the process and watch them pull the rigging to cross the sail over. We hung out for a couple of hours on the water and then headed back in.
Jeremy and I went back to the Condo to await Allison's 7 o'clock end-of-day time. We discussed a wide variety of topics, including equality between men and women, general problems of society, and the fact that a lot of my tax money goes to pay for him moving around the world. That's one of the reason's why I've always really like Jeremy. Even though we hardly see each other, when we hang out, we can talk really easily and openly. He's a thinker, and so's Allison, which is one of the reasons why I think they'll do well together. After we got Allison from work, we talked a lot more and got around to ordering some pizza. Neither of the pair really cooks much, which is a shame because they have a really nice kitchen. I'm supposed to cook for them later this week to pay my rent. We ended the evening watching The Office. Jeremy and Allison are working their way through Season 2 right now via Netflix, so it was great to enjoy some semi-forgotten laughs. Both of them would be working the next day, so I figured I'd get up in the morning and see about learning to surf, one of my principle goals while in Hawai'i.