Reunion -- 6/16/02

Small Ships

Kauai High School, Class of 82. My class was having its 20th reunion back on Kauai, and I was heading back home to partake. I really didnít know what to expect. I had been to my 10th and even the small 15th gathering, but I still approached it with a bit of guarded apprehension.

I was pretty active in student events back then and was a decent student. High school wasnít the totally painful experience for me as it was for others I knew. I remember back then thinking that our class would be tight and weíd all be friends for life. It didnít quite work out that way.

Upon graduation, I guess we all went our separate ways. Friendships were not so much lost as they were just not maintained. New relationships were realized, and a bigger world was revealed beyond the valleys of Kauai.

But it was time to gather together again; to see how we all changed after two decades.

When I first got there, I didnít want to interact with anyone. It just felt so weird and awkward. For many of the classmates in attendance, I had not seen them since graduation day, and I think I felt a bit guilty for not trying harder to maintain at least a casual friendship through the years (especially living only an island hop away).

But as the night progressed, a funny thing happened. Everyone got all chummy. Where there were once (ďsmall-kineĒ) cultural barriers that separated the Japanese from the Filipinos from the Portuguese from the Caucasians (oh, all right, haoles), there were none. The Kalaheo/Koloa crew now mixed nicely with the Lihue/Puhi/Hanamaulu gang. I guess that since the burden of peer pressure in the high school environment had been long lifted, we found that we had a lot more in common than not. Also, I guess we all finally grew up a little bit.

There were some fun mixers that helped break the ice. However, midway through, the reunion was stopped for an hour when a fire broke out (bad electrical lighting). It actually turned out to be a neat diversion though; especially since one of the responding firemen was another classmate and good friend of mine.

In talking with my classmates, I found that there were some dreams that were realized. Some dreams never became reality. And some are still searching for their place in life. But everyone seemed to be all right with that. It was cool.

In the end, it was really nice getting to see my classmates again and I was stoked to have attended. However, the night eventually turned to dancing and loud music, which kind of blew out the social dialog. I left a little early, giving handshakes and hugs along the way. Anyway, I intended to surf the next morn, so I wanted to get some rest.

Woke up a little bit late, and took my dadís truck to Poipu. Surf was tiny, but I just wanted to get wet. After doing the rounds, checking out all the breaks, I went back to my old haunt--Shipwrecks.

Itís amazing how the spot felt so familiar, like an old friend you havenít seen for a while. There were little nuances that I immediately picked up on that were so cool being revealed to me once again. It was nice bodyboarding back home.

Suddenly, a very large, dark shape broke the surface no more than 20 feet away. It actually glided right between me and the shoreline. I had to rub my eyes in disbelief.

It was a rare Hawaiian monk seal. I had seen one at this very spot ten years ago, and was wowed by the experience. I wondered even back then what would become of him, with a huge hotel being built on the shoreline.

Well, this guy couldíve very well have been the exact same seal. The one I saw in 1992 was probably a young pup, while this one was definitely a full-grown adult (he gained weight just like a lot of my classmates). He deftly swam alongside the shoreline, nonchalantly cruising eastward. Once again, I was awestruck by such a rare visit and felt honored by its presence. Funny, that I didnít even think about taking its picture (up until the moment I wrote this, it never occurred to me that I missed a photo op).

He stayed for just a little while before slipping underwater and disappearing for good. Although there were others in the lineup, I was the only one who saw him. I was stoked.

Reunions with old friends are nice.

Aloha from Paradise,