From the Lanai by Elizabeth Moore
I am in Hawaii and staying right on Waikiki. Mine is a miniscule balcony on the seventh floor and naturally the view is postcard worthy. I see Diamond Head, white sand, palms and Hawaii dressed for the summer. The world wanders beneath me as I watch. Glimpses of miniature figures and tiny snapshots of lives I do not know – of people I will never meet – this is my passing parade.
Children are rinsing salt and sand from their feet as mothers gather towels and beach toys. Waiters are attending the outdoor tables, scurrying, taking and delivering orders, clearing and cleaning tables. A conch shell is blown and torches are lit. Evening music floats from along the beach front. As twilight settles, it conjures shadows and my tableau slowly fades.
Night is challenged by what popular media has been heralding as a giant moon. I try to capture its image from my vantage point but it looks like the moon – just the moon. I imagine there will be many souls who firmly believe they have witnessed some otherworldly event. I have pictures of a silver disc and scudding clouds but not much more. I don’t mind. The images will remind me of this time and this place and that’s enough.
Sunrise. The slight breezes are my Greek chorus – ushering in the early morning company. Down below, hotel staff members wash paving stones and set up tables for the day. Along the sand, beach chairs and umbrellas are unfolded, forming lines of uniform colour in parade ground order - proud emblems of their hotels. Columns of surf boards wait for their turn to ride the almost non-existent break. This stage is ready for the day’s players. The quiet white noise plash of the waves is my overture.
Midday, and lunch goers find themselves eating to the accompanying squeals and splashes issuing from the pool area. There is a man in uniform whose job it is to distribute towels to hotel guests. He takes his job very seriously, carefully matching room numbers and names. He collects used, wet towels from the pool deck and stows them in his laundry bag. It is hot and the fan in his tiny shade area makes little difference. I prefer my dress circle seat at this time of the day. It is cooler up here and there is wine.
Music. A band has set up under a canopy in the courtyard far beneath me. Tables fill as guests gather for late afternoon drinks and food. I don’t think there is supposed to be dancing but two unlikely figures sway in time as the musicians run through their play lists. There are no empty tables or I might be tempted to join the party. It is still wonderful entertainment from the vantage of my private box seat. I see a catamaran returning to the beach and surfers balancing on tiny white crested wavelets, imagining they are conquering Oahu’s North Shore.
Each day my panorama changes. There are dire predictions of a hurricane sweeping through from the Big Island and the weather is grey and misty. The beachfront welcomes hardier souls but has little to offer. Waikiki without sun is a contradiction most cannot grasp and so the sand is almost pristine at 11am. Foot prints have abandoned the seaboard to seek more sheltered fun for the day. The offshore swell has actually approached quite surfable heights but the stacked boards have been abandoned. They look forlorn as the challenge of a decent wave ride beckons. Alas there are no brave spirits in sight.
I am granted but a tiny chink of time for the views from my lanai. I do make sure to descend to the ground floor and sample the untold delights this island has to offer. I fall in love with tiki bars and late night bands playing favourites I have almost forgotten. I talk to college students grateful for tips and shop for secret underwear. I see the construction site that was the International Market area and wonder whether the proposed development will reflect what has been levelled. I attend a moonlight luau and solemnly acknowledge the Pearl Harbour Memorial. I eat local seafood and talk to the young entrepreneur about to open his own business. I wish him luck.
My last day and I stand on the tiny balcony and survey what has been my own private pageant. It will unfold tirelessly whether I am there or not so I search for some final impressions. Far down the beach I see a figure in a Santa suit, dragging his heavy boots through the sand. Children follow, laughing in his wake as this seasonally challenged pied piper walks on. Between the palms, directly in front of my hotel I see a father and son standing in the water, deep in conversation. At barely twelve years of age, his future appearance is echoed strongly in the stance and bearing of his father. Their discussion goes unheard by me. I rely on gestures and posture to imagine their exchange. I do not know their names. I know nobody’s name.