Papakea

 

 

11427735_10152961737503034_5180485841754136828_nSometimes we say we are homesick for a place we only knew for a week. But to us, it is our first home.

On the morning after our wedding, my husband and I had to be on the road by 5 o’clock. From our hotel, we took a detour to Walmart where I clomped around in the formal black shoes and socks of my six-foot groom until I found a pair of $4 shoes to fit my five-foot-two self. I have always been the sort of girl to remember her lingerie but forget her shoes. June fifth was no exception.
img_8398For months, getting married and running away together was all either of us had wanted. Now, with new shoes purchased and coffee in our cupholders, we were finally making our grand escape.

In airport security lines, where others bore long faces and impatience, I smirked as my husband cracked jokes with the TSA agent who had pulled him aside for an extra screening. Everyone in uniform laughed with him and wished us well. We held hands up and down the terminals, feeling a bit overly-excited to call each other “hu’band and waaf.” I could hear a collective sigh of relief from our now distant hometown as her residents rested their eyes from the shining glare of our young love.  Well, maybe not. But our cuteness had been undeniably shiny for quite some time. Honeymooning only increased the condition. And so did Hawaii.

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On the island, there were the luxuries we’d seen in a million ads and photographs from tourists: Sandy beaches, ocean waves, scenic palm trees…. All of these were even more beautiful than we’d hoped, but there were also the adventures we made up. The ones that were all new to us.

There was crawling, running, jumping, climbing through crags and cliffs by the ocean. Not a speck of foliage could be found. All we saw was the sky above and gray cratered rocks all around. So we pretended we were on the moon. I had never been to the moon before.

Next was the giant red floppy hat that I had only seen in my mind’s eye. I described it to my husband at 10,000 feet. Days later he found it at sea level in a market by a banyan tree. He put it on my head and told me it was mine.

Then there was the cheap wine we bought as we walked barefoot to a local food mart. It tasted like those summers at the cabin I stayed at as a kid. My husband agreed. Hands waved and voices raised as we drank on the balcony, retelling every moment of our wedding. The sun set. As night faded into morning we ran inside to jump on the bed like children at a slumber party. We fell into a heap and after catching our breath retold stories from the months that held our engagement, laughing at the moments we loved, laughing harder at the moments we didn’t.

With each blink I see dozens of other stories to tell, but for now, I’ll keep the rest of my memories to myself. Some for the sake of length. Others for the sake of propriety. But I will share this:

We decided Papakea was our first home not because it’s the place we liked the best. Not because of the sunshine or the jungle hikes or tropical breezes. It is marked as our first home because it is where a marriage started. We were told from the time we were young that someday we would leave and cleave. This was the place we left to. It is where two people started to learn what it means to become one.

I am blessed to be rooted in the words “The greatest of these is love.” Love can be displayed in no truer way than by the cross where Christ gave himself for us. After Christ, no one will ever love my husband more than me, for I have given my life to him. And after Christ, no one will ever love me more than my husband, for he has taken to heart the Word; “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

We are clueless about a lot in life. We are young. We are impulsive and emotional. We are often foolish. There is so much left to learn because we are only at the beginning. But everyone has to start somewhere. And we started at Papakea.

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//wander//

 

 


 

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

– J.R.R. TOLKIEN –

 


 

Idaho.

Forests, rivers, wanderers in pickup trucks.

A man with a cardboard sign stands on gravel across the road from a bar called the Plantation, a Chinese restaurant that smells like stale cigarettes and an unfinished church office, all on the same corner. My brain goes off on a tangent that I believe was caused by the Chinese restaurant. Something about how the one downtown is better because the manager is kind and pretty and the wonton soup tastes even better when it rains… Before I can continue on to puddles and wet hair and all the best things that come with rain, the truck jolts and I’m back by the bar, the Chinese restaurant and the church office. My dad is pulling over…

With a smile and a nod, the hitchhiker jogs up to our Ford.
“Hey, do you mind riding in the back?” my dad asks pointing to the bed of the truck.
“Not at all, man! I’m trying to get to McCall.”
“Alright, we’re headed that way, hop in.”
My dad gets out to help the man and his bike safely into the bed of the truck. I just smile and wave. Dad helping out wanderers is commonplace. Honestly this bearded roadside guy appears to have more figured out in life than I do. He can say with complete confidence that he would like to go to McCall. I can say with complete confidence that I would like to go… somewhere with coffee…? Or without coffee. I really don’t care at this point as long as I get somewhere.

There are a few things I learned about this man along our journey: His name is Steve. He had just completed biking the state of Idaho when he met us. He has a friend who is also named Kira. He likes the way she says, “Keep it real, always.”

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As we drive I glance at our wanderer in the rear-view mirror. He’s looking around, eyeing Idaho and all her beauty. She’s a curvy broad with her rolling hills in all the right places, flowers at her feet and birds in her hair. Staring at her is a given for anyone who is not blind.

The road continues on to the winding Lewiston grade. I think I’d be scared if I were in the back of a stranger’s truck, rushing past so many semis and clunkers turn after turn. But not this guy… If he ever had a worrier’s mind, he let it go a long time ago. He has the look of someone who’s known peace not just as a passerby but as a close friend.

When we drop him off in McCall, he still seems genuinely grateful, even though he just spent hours in the freezing wind, sitting on bark in a truck bed. What matters to him his that he’s made it to his next step. He’s that much closer to home in Oregon.

As less than inspired conversationalists, my dad and I speak to him briefly and without much intention. Then my dad shakes his hand and hitchhiker Steve walks out of the gas station parking lot and down the sleepy streets of McCall.

“Sorry I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to say to him,” my dad says to me as we climb back into the truck.

“I think helping him and saying nothing is better than saying the right thing and doing nothing.”
“Very true…” he replies, “That was deep.”
“Not really.”
“Any deeper and I’d need scuba gear.”
I smirk. The line about deep conversation requiring scuba gear is from another traveler he once met along the way.

“Keep it real always…” I say in my best Steve voice.

“Keep it real always,” he laughs.

And we wander on.