Waking up in the city is a feast for the senses, especially when that city is Waikiki. All cities are noisy and busy, but this one adds a quality that is so elusive…a destination, a resort, an icon. At 6am the sun is barely above the horizon but already its light is filtering through the high rise hotels. The traffic is incessant, although you seldom hear drivers honking. There’s the regular whine of mopeds and the beeping of trucks maneuvering into narrow alleys and driveways to deliver clean linens and produce. There are birds, too, but mostly pigeons and sparrows who are attracted by the carelessness of tourists eating their breakfast at open windows. And there is sand, blocks from the beach, drifted in little dunes against the curb and settled into the crevices in the sidewalk.
I’ve joined my husband for his weekly overnight. He has offices on Maui and in Honolulu and he spends one night every week on the Busy Isle. He almost always stays at the same place, a quiet hotel one block from Kalakaua in Waikiki. Downtown Honolulu is pretty slow in the evening and Waikiki is a short drive but light years away.
We were up early and walked over to Kalakaua for coffee. He loves to sit on the veranda of the Moana Surfrider in their big koa rockers and watch the people go by. Sometimes he’ll phone me early in the morning when I’m at home to tell me he’s there. This morning, I was with him.
The parade of people on the sidewalk is mostly made up of visitors. They are running with their iPods or power walking or just out for a stroll, having given up the fight with their internal clock still set on Eastern Standard time. Occasionally a surfer walks by with a board held tight under his arm, hoping to ride a few sets before heading back to his apartment for a quick shower and work. A woman in a hotel uniform pedals gracefully past, weaving around the omnipresent delivery vans. A light sprinkling of liquid sunshine passes through.
We sit and drink our coffee, admiring the ornate trim on the hotel and saying little. At home, we would hear choruses of birds but little else. No one walks past our house on a cul-de-sac this early in the morning. My neighbor might drive quietly past on his way to an early tee time, but there’s no traffic that early in our quiet neighborhood. At one time, I thought I might enjoy living in a city. If the opportunity presented itself now I wouldn’t turn it down point-blank, but I don’t feel the enthusiasm I once had. I’ve lived on a small, quiet island for long enough that its slower rhythm of life fits perfectly, like an old pair of rubbah slippahs.
I enjoy the visit but one night is enough. Time to head back to my reality.