Island Girl Series - Salt

Salt. That's what I'm told is the first thing that one smells when they get to Hawaii, salt. Makes perfect sense...I mean we're an island, surrounded by the sea. The first thing I'm told by visitors that they see...the sun, the blue skies, the flowers, paradise. This is totally understandable as these people have probably traveled for hours, running from the cold temperatures and snow of the "mainland," and are now being kissed by the sun and hugged by its warmth.

As for me, the island girl, I experience Hawaii the way I've expereinced it my whole life...home. The things I smell, the things I see, they're different, yet the same. I too smell the salt of the sea, but mixed with it is the smell of charcoal burning in the hibachi and Teriyaki meat singeing on the grill. What I see, the sun, the blue skies, the flowers, but with it, the Ohana (family) spending time together, laughing, strumming an ukulele lazily underneath the sparse shade of the nearest coconut tree while a little girl sways her hips to her own hula. I too see paradise...Home.

I am an island girl...I dance to Hawaiian melodies, wear flowers in my hair, laugh with no regard, and love my family, my friends, and just people in general. That's the "Hawaiian" way...Aloha. Hawaii is far from perfect, but it is my perfect place, my sanctuary and protection from "the real world." Here in Hawaii, I know the best places to get the most delicious plate lunches, see the prettiest views, eat the most epic shaved ice and, of course, where all the kapu (off limits) places are. I know the ins and outs of the island and all the amazing things it has to offer...I'm an island girl.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was oblivious to things outside of the island. To me, the world was beautiful and special, but it also ended where the sky met the ocean. This was my great big world and an adventure would mean my parents packing a cooler with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks and hopping into the Toyota pick up, and driving us kids around the island. I remember laying in the back of the truck staing at the sky and just smiling, content with my life.

As I grew older I started learning that there was...more. More people, more cultures, and more adventures. I began researching and planning trips in my mind, bridging gaps between what I read and saw with what I imagined. I became fascinated and yearned for new experiences. I began taking small trips, a trip to California with my senior class, visited family and even lived in Las Vegas for some time, I even went on a business trip to Arizona. But none of these quenched my desire to see, smell, and even taste what the world really had to offer. I wanted to explore the world! But explore the world as an island girl...Exploring the world with eyes that see beauty and a heart filled with the Aloha Spirit, not only learning, but sharing and bringing Hawaii to every stone I touched and person I met. I want adventure...a girl can surely dream. Little did I life was about to change, for this island girl's dreams were about to come true.

It was a hot and humid day in my beautiful hometown, a lazy afternoon. I was lounging on my patio chair reading a book, listening to the beautiful sounds of the ocean gently kissing the sand, and humming a Hawaiian melody my grandmother used to sing to me when I was a keiki (child). The day was going exactly as planned until I heard a car pulling into the garage. I looked up and smiled as I watched two women I have known and loved my entire life walking towards me. I dog-eared my book, tossed it aside and got up to greet them the island girl way with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Something was different about them though. They both looked more excited than usual and asked me to join them for lunch as they had something "very important" they wanted to discuss with me. Always up for good food and great company, I grabbed my wallet and hopped in the car, not knowing that these two women were going to offer me the opportunity of a lifetime!

We arrived at the restaurant, pizza of course, my favorite. We were seated and I could tell that these ladies were struggling to keep the excitement off of their faces. I smiled and asked "what was going on?". They told me that they had a proposition for opportunity that they thought would be prefect for me and difficult to refuse. Now just as excited as they were, I slid to the edge of my seat, hungry for more information, and asked what they had in mind. They both told me about a magazine that they were starting up called "F.A.M.E..." a global publication highlighting Fashion, Arts, Music and Entertainment in Hawaii and abroad. I was THRILLED! I asked how exactly they thought I could help as my knowledge of fashion was typical island girl; shorts and tank top with a bikini underneath, always ready for the beach. Art, well I love art and all things beautiful, but as far as my abilities go...well, is stick figures a thing? Hmm...Maybe music, I love music, although the singing, well if my shower walls could talk, they'd probably ask for ear plugs. Entertainment! That had to be it! I'm a social butterfly always eager to meet new people and enjoy different experiences. When they told me they wanted me to be their "Island Girl" I was even more thrilled! Of course I said, "That's great! Of course I'll be your 'Island Girl'! Yes, anything! Wait...".

What was their definition of an island girl?
Both women took turns explaining to me that the "Island Girl" embodies all things representing Hawaii. A melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, respect and love. But what they really wanted the "Island Girl" to do is travel within the islands, throughout the United States and even to other countries and share those experiences with F.A.M.E... Magazine's readers, all of you! She will share her stories of an Island Girl's lifestyle with audiences who have never traveled to Hawaii but have a dream to visit someday. She would also write about her new adventures in other states or countries allowing readers to experience these places with her for the first time...I couldn't breathe!

After they were done explaining their vision, I looked back and forth at them trying to grasp and comprehend what I had just heard, and all I could say was...Me? In unison they both said, "YES!" A flood of thoughts and emotions filled me all at once, this was my dream, this was the greatest opportunity that I had ever been presented with. I was nervous, excited scared all at once. I asked if I could have some time to think things through and give them my answer in a few days. They smiled back at me and said of course I could, but they needed to know soon. We finished our lunch and drove back to my house. After saying our goodbyes, I was left alone with my thoughts. Left to contemplate one of the biggest decisions that I have ever had to make in my life. Could I do this?

A few days later while getting my "Vitamin Sea", I think about what being an Island Girl means to me...It means staying close to the family and always ensuring that everyone is taken care of, even before yourself...It also means embracing people of different cultures and backgrounds with the "Spirit of Aloha" making them a part of the extended family. I love my family, but this island girl is curious. She's curious to know what else is beyond the liquid silk that kisses the white sandy beaches that I'm currently wiggling my toes in. Curious to know of the smells, sights and tastes of the world. Yearning to experience different cultures, flavors and maybe even love...romance, passion and adventure!

And for the 1000th time that day, I think about being the "Island Girl", and I can feel my heart start to flutter as I make the final decision in silence. I look back across the ocean, watching the sun starting to kiss its liquid lover as it makes its glorious descent, and dream of all the sunrises and sunsets awaiting to kiss my face. I sigh, lay back in the cooled sand, and smile at the stars imagining the adventures to come...