I took my usual route, riding past Kekela Beach Park, where Kendon and I went on our first beach walk as a married couple.
There was the beachside mansion, with its weed-covered tennis courts, broken windows, and chipped paint. I used to think it was haunted. I later found out an old woman lives there who is simply lonely and eccentric.
The sea breeze hit my nose again as I glided past Pounder's Beach, where Kendon and I spent our first Christmas afternoon building a snowman... out of sand.
There was the otai stand, where a kind local family sells carved wooden art and tapa mats and, most of all, delicious, refreshing, otai on Fridays and Saturdays. Perfect for date night.
I passed the dirt road I used to run down in my single days. Eventually it can take you to a beautiful waterfall perfect for a hot day, but follow it a different direction and it leads to the most blissful banyan tree, which stretches its strong arms down a cliff and invites passersby to climb up, up, up.
I smelled barbecue wafting from one of the houses nearby -- probably for a plate lunch sale later -- and remembered all the times I've had plate lunches at the cafe up the road. My friend Jon once challenged me that I couldn't eat an entire pancake platter from there. He said he would pay for breakfast if I could. Four 12-inch pancakes churned in my belly for hours.... but they were so deliciously free.
I rode past the Polynesian Cultural Center, watching dancers in costume race by the back fence to perform in the daily canoe show. When I worked here, I would delight in walking out of my small gift shop and yelling, "Aloha!" with a shaka to Japanese high school groups. Their response was always an enthusiastic "Arohaaaaa!!" that never failed to make my day. Later I would see a prophet of God -- Thomas S. Monson -- pay a visit here. I would surprise Kendon with a Haunted Lagoon ride here during Halloween. And I would sit in awe every time I saw the night show -- a classic tale of the soul of man and land; of the "Ha: Breath of Life" that lives in all of us.
I approached campus and memories flooded from all sides. Here I gained a new sense of confidence; made friends that changed my life; had teachers that changed my perspective; held my dream job; received a bachelor's degree; and learned to understand Aloha.
In the distance I saw the Laie Temple. On the hill behind it, I sought shelter when a tsunami threatened to overtake our little town. My house never floated away (though I was prepared with my camera to document this), but I did manage one of my best sunburns after that long day of waiting. The temple resting beneath bears perhaps the greatest significance of all the structures in this diverse little town. Here I held hands with my best friend and listened to the words that made him my husband -- my eternal best friend. I cried as it occurred to me that our relationship literally had God's stamp of approval.
I thought of these things on my last bike ride. I looked down at Mufi, the rusting, turquoise beach cruiser, gripped his sticky handle bars, and said one last thank you for all the rides.
Then, under the weight of all the memories, I biffed it. For the first time ever, my feet slipped off the pedals and I bruised my knee in a mad attempt not to crash. I took it as a sign. It's time to move on, I thought. Time to make new memories. Time to ride a new bike past new landscapes.
As I arrived at this new epiphany, I also arrived at the house of Mufi's new owner. I handed him over to Megumi, who gave me a big "arigato" smile that made everything OK. It was time for her to discover Laie by beach cruiser.
Hello fresh start.