Some people just have a knack for making new friends, while the rest of us like to take our time. How do you react when it's time to make new friends in a new place?
I buzzed my head with a #4... or, to be exact, Brian did it for me.
We were sitting around in Nick's living room, and he asked me if I wanted to buzz my head. When I said "maybe," and the girls said "no," I immediately replied with a quick stripping off of my shirt and a shaving of my head.
That evening I went home... or, to be exact, to the Ostrander's home (of which I am sitting for the next three weeks), and I closed the night with a thought on cats.
My mind is jogged by one named Savannah, who is desperate for human affection intent on pawing me with her claws and rubbing me without restraint as I ponder life's questions while draining my bladder.
My thought is as follows...
Cats are like me in that they put on a facade of aloof-ness, purring around with an air of independence, self assured and free from want. But if you leave them for a few than they'll be all over you. Affection starved and baring all, they have no problem wearing their emotions on their fur, throwing themselves upon you as if they were expected to.
The catch is that, when you give a cat what he wants, that is personal affection, then he's back to being self reliant and un-needy.
And it's because of this that I am like cats.
And yet I've reasoned out a line of thought to get past my catlike qualities. This was brought on by a series of several nights, of which I am about to relate.
I left the cats at home a night back when my family was on island for the Labor Day weekend and they camped down at Hulopoe Bay. I worked that night, and I didn't get off until 11.
But as late as it was, I still went. I caught a ride down with Nick and Brilei, Leslie rode with Feline to keep her company. Feline wore a silly cap which made her look like a french mime.
When we got down to the beach campsite, however late that was, Melanie, Simon and Cressentia were still up talking about sign language, Kat and Kaimana were both ready for bed, and the haole boy Keith was trying to get Kaimana to sleep.
The suburban was gone, they had driven to Keomoku, the other side of the island, to harvest midnight shells, which meant that I was stuck wearing my p.j.'s and nothing to swim with.
I informed a certain Brian that I would not be joining him in a midnight swim, but happily enough, Simon was prepared, and the two went off to swim with the sharks.
A few nights previous (while at the very same campsite), I had been moody and aloof. Quiet and anti social, I distanced myself from the 'group' all night, content on wallowing in my feelings of loneliness.
At the time, my mind was consumed with memories and thoughts about my friends that I had just left behind in New York.
I remembered how we would bonfire at the 'Bay of the Most Beautiful Sunsets' and of how, once a year, we would bundle up on the sand and we'd watch the fireworks from across the Bay.
And the night felt quiet and empty without them... it seemed as if every falling star reminded me of how slowly by slowly they were all falling away from me.
The group tried their finest to get me to wrestle with them, yet I felt as if my real friends weren't with me on that almost perfect evening. I fell asleep that night struggling to hold on to whatever memories I could... but the sand was hard, the ocean was loud, and the stars seemed harsh and blinding.
The next morning was pitiful.
I crawled into the shade while everyone else played in the water. I tried so hard to want to get up and join them, but my mind forced myself to sleep in the midday heat.
When I got up and found that they had left, I felt the emptiness inside of me deepen.
The heat was making me dizzy. The flies were driving me irritable, and I felt like I was going insane. Why did I need anyone?
And then I remembered how, a couple days prior, I had jumped out of bed at the sound of the phone ringing. The cats had been all over me that morning, and I had closed the door to close them out.
When I answered the phone, it was hungry Brian looking for a friend to lunch with.
I looked at the time on the microwave, and it read 11:20. "Sure," I said. "I'll meet you in 30." I hung up the phone and telephoned Ash. "Sure," she said. "I'll pick you up in 25."
We got to The Cafe, Ashley and I, a half an hour later, and Brian was a quarter to done. So she called up her daddy and Richard came over, then Brian left us alone.
Well Richard ate nothing and I ate tempura, and Ashley had something like spam. When Leslie came by, we asked her to sit, then Richard decided to leave.
Before he could leave, tho, Chrissy stopped by, and she ordered her lunch, but to go. Then she sat at our table, and asked Dick "How you doing?" And he ended up staying a bit longer.
By the time we were finished, Lesleigh and Rachel had come and the kids were all hungry for lunch. So she got them both lunches to go in a baggy, and then we all left with full bellies.
I realized then that friends come in various packages.
Some of them are canned pretty darn good, well preserved and everlasting... good for eternity, hardy and weathered.
They may be like a favorite trinket you place on a shelf, one that you can take down and show off, or admire when everything else seems so imperfect.
Or a friend could be a dusty photo you return to whenever you feel like the memories are slipping away.
Some friends are momentary, a quick fix like a double espresso on a drabby day.
And some are permanent figures, like the firm foundation of a standing fixture. Whatever a friend is, they're there for your well being. And you are there for theirs.
So back to the night when I got off of work at 11, and went down to the beach with Nick, Brilei, Leslie and Fe the french mime... it was then that I made up my mind to try and be happy with all that I had.
It shouldn't matter that my friends in New York were all working together at the annual Hampton Classic horse show and I wasn't. Because I'm here now, lying in the sand with a group of new friends, pretty and polished and ready to play, each of them with their own personality quirks.
"You wanna wrestle?" they asked me, and again I said, "No."
But this time it wasn't because I didn't want to be there with them. The truth was that I was there and that they loved me for who I was, just like friends should.
They too had friends they were missing. They had lives outside of what I knew about them. But they chose to be there with me, and they smiled at me, even when I turned them down on their offer for a wrestling match.
So I sprawled out in the sand with Scott's radio on 'Oldies 104.7', and I smiled as I remembered how Nick flipped Brian with one hand while eating a cookie with the other.
Leslie lay there on her cot with her ever ready listening ears.
Kat said goodnight as she tucked herself into bed next to Sammy. And the lantern was bright as it shone down on Keith and Fe playing trumps with Brilei and Brian.
I fell asleep in the sand again that night... but this time it wasn't as hard as it was a few nights prior. The ocean rolled quietly as I shut my eyes, and the stars were soft and unassuming.
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...