SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 28: For The Love Of The Islands

Tonight my faith in humanity is strengthened. There is no need to talk to heavily of the day. You’ve heard enough of my whereabouts this week.

Need only to make one personal statement: “I have to get out of this hotel to meet some other people!”

New friends of the week, know that there is nothing against you. It’s just the resort walls are creeping in on me and I have to find some open air. I’m grateful for your fellowship and trust, you have expanded my horizons. But to be fair to diversity and to the 365 mission, I must reach out beyond the walls of Hilton Hawaiian Village in finding other perspectives.

That said, I need to tell you about a chance meeting this evening, so say aloha to Nathan.

There are just too many levels of amazing about this articulate, intelligent and humble dude. He and I bump into each other as I chat with the managers of a hostel I have wandered into just up the street from where I am staying. I’m originally smitten by its slightly dark and intimidating facade, a wonderful contrast to the overly groomed grounds now 6 days common to me.

Twenty minutes into conversation with the proprietors, when accompanied by a friend, up walks Nathan. Sincere Aloha’s are exchanged and I’m welcomed as if I am native Hawaiian, hug and all. I’m blown away by this gesture, realizing that this moment is meant to be. Wait till you see just how small the world is.

Immediately a warm conversation begins. Twenty more minutes pass and every nerve in my body tells me here is the man of the evening. I break away from our topic and show him 365 on my iPad. He more than graciously agrees to be today’s friend.

What sealed the deal? Last week one of my new 365 friends turns out to be one of Nathans cousins. I’m almost knocked off my feet (see Jonathan in 365 Day 21 / We’re All In This Life Together). Makes sense, Nathan has a huge family.

Fifteen brothers and sisters to be exact. All true Hawaiians, literally birthed in their home – island style. He speaks lovingly of his relationship with the old country, sharing with me his stories of  Hawaii, all the way back to where he was born; Laie, Oahu.

Still hung up on the sheer size of his family, I can’t help to ask if his mother is still living? With the smile of a well cared for child, he answers, “Oh Yeah, a happy 76.” He tells me of how she kept the house in order and was no push over. “A strong island woman,” he says.

Carrying on the legacy of his mothers upbringing, Nathan proudly tells me of his two children, one of which is on a full scholarship to USC. That in itself is reason for celebration.

We talk of the times he lived on the Main Land: California, New Orleans, Washington and Las Vegas working in the hospitality industry. All of which left him reflecting on Hawaii.

“I’m a country boy,” he tells me. Followed by a heartfelt and touching story. An experience that happened after years away. Hopefully I can give it the justice the story deserves.

He arrives home, feels the air, smells the earth and sees the land he has missed. As he exits the plane, a fellow traveler throws a cigarette butt to the ground and stamps it out.

I know this sounds hoaky, but I’m looking into his eyes and know his love for the land is real.

He tells me of his bending to pick it up, grasping not only the discarded remnant of inconsideration, but a handful of the soil he was raised on.

The earth falls between his fingers. He tells me at that moment, He knew he was home!

I think I’m starting to understand the full meaning of Aloha.

I ask my final questions.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

The basic answer, owning a market selling only Hawaiian products.

There is more to the answer though. He goes on to express the importance of developing local agriculture, and the lands that are not fully used to their best advantage. He also speaks of the need for conservation on the islands. His dream is that his market can be part of not only stimulating the local economy, but also brings awareness of the bountiful resources that Hawaii provides.

I really respect this guy.

And Finally, What would you like to share with my readers?

Come to Hawaii, Enjoy it for what it is, and please keep progress responsible.

Readers. Please Listen.

Nathan,

Mahalo Nui Loa

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