“The giggles from children playing and swinging from some of the roots complimented the cacophony of the mynas. I immediately took out my camera. Galen was right about this setting being perfect for photos – the innocence of the children, the greatness of the tree and the mysteriousness of the invisible mynas moved me…”
“Kate, you’re going to go where with a man you don’t really know?
Megan’s voice was heavy with concern.
“I’m going with Galen to the Lahaina Harbour to do some sightseeing. We’ll walk around, maybe grab something to eat and he wants to show me something special that would make a great photo.”
“Oh, I’m sure he wants to show you something special but it probably has nothing to do with taking you sightseeing.”
Meghan sounded apprehensive and I appreciated that she was looking out for my safety.
“Are you going in this guy’s car or are you taking one of those shuttle buses?
“Don’t worry. We’re taking the complimentary shuttle.”
“Okay, I feel better already. Since when are you comfortable going off with a random guy like that?”
Meghan was right. Under normal circumstances I would never have considered it but Galen and I would basically be in public.
“I wouldn’t call him random. It’s not like we haven’t already been alone behind closed doors. He was a perfect gentleman the other night when we had dinner at my place and he seemed pretty normal.”
“Okay then. The important thing is that you’re comfortable with it. Then again, I probably shouldn’t say a word after what I did when I met Harry in New York.”
My mind drifted back to what Meghan had told me about how she and Harry had met.
“But I’m still paranoid so make sure that the GPS location is turned on your cell so that I can ping you if I need to. And take a picture of him and text it to me just in case he turns up on Hawaii’s Most Wanted”.
“Is there such a thing as Hawaii’s Most Wanted?”
“I hope not,” Meghan laughed. “But I’m really happy that you’re getting out and keeping your mind off things. I’m proud that you are living and not staying in the shadows.”
“Yeah, I guess that I’m living to die now. And who knew that it would feel…good? It just makes me sad that it took all of this to get me to this point.” Galen’s words flashed through my mind and I found myself repeating them. “But it’s never too late if I start now, right?”
“Exactly. Go have fun, check in with me when you get back and don’t forget to text a photo of Galen to me, just in case.”
“Okay Mom!” I teased.
After we hung up, I grabbed my tote and headed to the main building. In the lobby, I took a seat in the shade and waited for Galen. We had agreed to meet at a quarter to the hour to get the shuttle to the wharf but I was more than early which made the wait seem much longer. My mind went back to our dinner together, how we had more wine on the balcony and how the conversation had flowed from one topic to another. We had talked about books, movies we had seen and he had told me more stories about the young couple that had been at pool until we realized that it was close to midnight.
Strangely enough, I was actually a little disappointed that he hadn’t tried to pull a move on me. But then again, I should have been glad to avoid being a clumsy girly fool if he had.
I glanced at my cell and it was five minutes to the hour. Galen still hadn’t turned up and I began to worry that he was going to stand me up.
Don’t tell me that I spent all that extra time to look cute but still casual and Galen was going to ditch me?
As the shuttle bus pulled up curbside and hotel guests piled off with their shopping bags, I had a decision to make.
Do I wait to see if he turns up and miss this shuttle? Or do I go ahead, hop on and go exploring without him?
I observed all those happy guests milling around the lobby, laughing and talking with each other about what they had bought and where they had been.
I made my choice.
I’ve spent too much time waiting on other people. I’m doing this. Like Hannah says, “Ride or die”.
I got up, picked up my tote bag and headed for the shuttle.
I’ll be looking cute for me today and that’s fine. I feel good. No, I feel great.
My foot was almost off the curb and onto the shuttle when I heard Galen’s voice in the distance.
“Hey! Katie! Wait up!”
Galen sprinted towards me with a small bag in his hand. Today, he wasn’t sporting a man bun. His blond hair fell just above his shoulders and it was hard not to notice his lean muscular build through his close-fitting t-shirt. It was also hard for me to ignore how nicely he filled the faded jeans he was wearing.
“Sorry that I’m late. I’m always on island time. That’s the one negative thing about staying here so often – it’s very easy to lose all track of time.”
Galen gave me a surprised look and frowned.
“Wait…Were you actually going to leave without me?”
It was obvious that I was and I wasn’t about to lie.
“Actually yes. I thought that you had stood me up.” I was being totally honest.
“Okay.” Galen gave me one of his smiles that almost made me forget my own name. “A woman who stands in her own power? I admire that. But I would never ever stand YOU up Katie. I’m a man of my word.”
Galen took me by the arm and guided me onto the shuttle. I chose a seat near the window and he slid in close next to me. I had my camera at the ready to take photos as we headed to the wharf but the windows were plastered with some kind of protective sun covering. Galen nudged me when he saw me putting away my camera.
“Oh yeah, I forgot that these shuttle buses have filters on the windows so you can’t get any shots. The next time we go sightseeing, we’ll take my car. That way, we can stop wherever you want along the way.”
Now I was the one who was pleasantly surprised. “The next time we go out?”
Galen smiled and nodded.
“Yes, the next time that we go out, unless I’m being too presumptuous.”
“Hmm, maybe just a little.” I tried not to show too much pleasure at this words but a grin crept through. “Let’s see how today goes first okay Galen?”
He smirked and took off his sunglasses.
“Agreed Katie.” He leaned in and whispered. “But the next time will be tomorrow right?”
We laughed and then he spend the ride pointing out different places through the obstructed window until the shuttle dropped us off at The Wharf City Centre.
“Do you want to grab something to eat first? There are tons of restaurants here.”
“No, I’m good for now. Take me to this photo worthy spot you talked about.”
Galen looped his arm into mine and we walked down to Front Street and joined the throngs of people hustling and bustling. The streets were lined with colorful restaurants and shop fronts as far as I could see and it all made me think of what I’d seen in photos of New Orleans and Margaritaville. As we walked, I noticed a shaved ice stand and made a mental note to get one on the way back. Hawaiian shaved ice was on my list of things to do and experience.
“What I wanted you to see is Banyan Tree Park. It has the largest banyan tree in Hawaii and it’s absolutely beautiful. Listen closely. Do hear that noise?”
There was an odd consistent noise that got louder and louder as we quickened our pace to the park that was brimming with tourists.
“Yes, I do hear something but what is it?”
“Those are myna birds that roost in the branches and cause quite a stir in the evening.”
I was amazed at how loud the noise was and looked up. “But I don’t see anything.”
“And you won’t because they basically become one with the tree.”
I approached the tree and ran my palm along its impressive trunk, admiring the multitude of overhanging aerial roots that towered above us. The giggles from children playing and swinging from some of the roots complimented the cacophony of the mynas. I immediately took out my camera.
Galen had been right about this setting being perfect for photos – the innocence of the children, the greatness of the tree and the mysteriousness of the invisible mynas moved me.
I felt utter joy just standing in its majestic shade and watching a cute little boy admire its height.
Photo credit: Tatters ❀ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
“Go ahead and take your photos. I’ll be over there.”
Galen pointed to an empty bench and left me alone. Taking my time, I made my way around the park and immersed myself from every angle, snapping shot after shot. When I was finally done, I plopped down on the bench next to Galen.
“When I first came to Maui, I would regularly come down here to watch the sunset, listen to the mynas and people watch.”
“Yes, there’s something magical about this spot,” I admitted, watching the children play.
“You know, there’s quite a bit of mythology about banyan trees. Some say that they provide fulfillment of wishes and others say that in scriptures, they symbolize longevity and immortality. Most interesting of all is probably in iconography where Shiva is visualized as Dakshinamurti who sits under the Banyan, which is seen as the botanical embodiment of the universal soul, facing the terror of death and change, unafraid because of his profound understanding of the world”.*
Enlightened and good-looking? I’ll have to think about what he said later on to let his words sink in.
“That’s really… deep.” I was impressed at his knowledge of things I knew nothing about. “Are you into mythology?”
“Not really. But when I decided to simplify my life and live differently a few years ago, I found myself with more time on my hands to read and learn about all things I stumbled across. Getting back to basics and leaving the rat race behind for certain periods of time was the best decision I ever made.”
I sighed and looked up at the trees that surrounded us.
“I’d love to do that. Life has gotten so complicated…”
Galen placed his hand on my knee.
“Nothing is stopping you Katie. Actually, getting back to basics is what you are doing right now.”
We looked at each other for a long moment, the sound of the mynas getting louder as the sunset slowly disappeared.
“I’m curious to know more about why you left the rat race.”
Galen grinned widely, got up and extended his hand to me. I took it and he pulled me to my feet.
“I’ll tell you but you’ll have to agree to dinner first.” Galen kept hold of my hand. “What do you say?”
“I say yes.” I smiled back. “But only if our next stop is for you a passionfruit orange guava shaved ice with coconut ice cream on the bottom and sweet cream on top.”
From the look on his face, I had taken Galen by surprise.
“I see that you’ve done your research! A woman who enjoys dessert before dinner? I love that!”
I smiled even wider. “Well, I only have this one life so why not do what feels good, right?”
“Yeah, you’ve got that right!”
Hand in hand, Galen and I headed back down Front Street with one thing in mind.
But to be honest, I really had two things on my mind…
Photo credit: moonjazz via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
Continuation: K is for “King Kahekili”
*referenced from here
All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.
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