hail alma mater, hail blue and gold.

I do feel as if I have dropped down a hole beneath the dark earth that eclipses the light of reality and into the shining inside-out everything-ness of Wonderland. This Wonderland, which I have been dying for and dreaming of for eight years now, is Oahu, one of the eight main islands of Hawaii. As far as the military goes, five years is an unusually long amount of time to spend in one place and I was lucky enough to spend five years of my childhood on this island (the longest I have ever lived in one place). Of course, no one ever appreciates the luxuries of youth until they are long gone.

Well I am lucky enough to have a second chance, a second glance, at the shining existence of what was what. I grudgingly arrived in Honolulu three days ago, still sore and exhausted from being yanked away so suddenly from a life that was so on its way to ideal. But then we never get exactly what we want, do we? It has been three days now and I am still living by a strange internal clock: I wake up at five in the morning and I am ready to sleep at seven or eight. The bookends of my days are a little bit staggered right now, but I am relatively conscious and alert for the majority of the “meat” and action of my days.

My family bought a house on the island about forty minutes away from where we used to live on the army base, so most of what I have seen has been unfamiliar and somewhat exotic (how can it not be exotic in Hawaii?). It is a treat to take a trip to the North Shore, to Haleiwa and to Waialua, where I went to elementary school for four years and where I spent countless days on the beach pretending to be a mermaid in the water, my skin turning as brown as the locals’ in spite of the obsessive amounts of sunscreen lotion my mother would slather onto my body ever day.

Upon my return I have realized that there was so much I had never even noticed.  How tiny my school was, for instance. I visited my old elementary school, St. Michael’s, and it was so much smaller than I remember it (probably just because I was so small at the time). There are also bike paths all over the place, which I had had no need to take note of in elementary school since I had not yet been introduced to the joys of driving my own car and then been suddenly stripped of that power and privilege. I am now on the lookout for other means of transportation to get to exactly where I want to be: hello, bicycles and public transit! I had noticed how much of the Hawaiian language had been casually mixed into English during everyday conversation to form a kind of island slang called pidgin. There was a time when I could understand what everyone around me said; this ability was simply the result of continuous exposure, but after eight years on the mainland the dialect has become completely foreign to my ears. On the beach with my old best friend, Nara, I could hardly understand her when she talked with other guys from the island.

Continuing along that same path of thought, hanging out with Nara has been surreal because it is strange to see how my life would have continued on if I had not moved away. I feel like it’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to reawaken a life you have had, to start back up where you left off. Not everything will be the same, but there are a few constants: the bond of a longtime friendship, the shared memories, the unmoving mountains, and the persistent red dirt that finds its way into every crevice and stays there and stains there. The same people are here, just bigger and older and with their own personalities and styles. We went to see an old classmate play with his band, which seemed to be a Christian metal group? Question: What the heck is up with the dancing people do to metal? It looks like a mix of kung fu, club dancing, and power rangers:

Well, whatever it is, it was quite interesting to see.

On another note, Broken Bells played in Athens on Friday night and I wish I could have gone to see them, since the Shins have been such a constant presence throughout my high school years. I swear, the advent of August and my freedom will be the death of all of this regrettable nonsense.

Finally, I don’t understand why everyone’s hating on Lady Gaga. Leave Gaga aloneeeeee! Just kidding. But in all seriousness, she’s weird and her music isn’t the deepest I’ve ever heard, but I commend her for making us all double-take three times.

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