“I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free – the peacefulness is so big it dazes you.” – Sylvia Plath, an excerpt from ‘Tulips’.
Here’s a small glimpse of my time in Oahu. I have to admit, I was slightly biased as to what it would be like. And, being there, completely removed all those preconceived notions that I had floating around in the sunken depths of my skull. It made me fall in love, over and over again. With fallen flowers, the fluidity of ebb and tide. With first light that hits the beating shore. With reflections of strangers, masquerading as myself. Air. Fresh, crisp, air. And the nectarine sticky-sweet, sun – fading too briefly to sting.
The ultimate freedom in this world, is to travel. It’s the only form of escapism I now allow myself to take. It’s a hit, of the good kind. And a rush. Pulsating veins, diving deep and swimming far. More than anything, I love being in places I’ve never travelled before. Discovering, and becoming entangled in the environment. Of people, of culture, of experience. Transposing those memories to feelings, that only I can understand. Personal growth, that’s what I’m after. Resilience, more than anything. But most of all, I love travelling alone. We’re born alone, we die alone. And I have only myself. I always have had, myself. And it will forever continue to be that way. I’ve done the partner thing, done it to death. It’s easy to surround yourself with people, harder to be solitude. To be the keeper of thoughts, contented with mind and soul, singularly, yours.
Voracious enough, travel makes me feel alive. Drifting to some far other plain, with dizziness, such overwhelming dizziness. Like when I met melancholy for the first time. And she smiled, and her shadow consumed my body. Yes, I’m more alive than I have ever been before, but that doesn’t stop me from indulging in the concealed parts of myself that I keep hidden – and release when needed. I’ve always been two people, part-dark, part-light. We all are. It’s just whether you choose to tap into your other side. And I can’t satisfy one, without indulging the other. Palahniuk wrote, you need to suffer to make any real art, and to some extent – I hope I’m always suffering. Because, that’s when I’m at my creative best. And the more I try to run from my dismembered past, the more it will remain with me. And I’ve accepted that. It’s funny how things change for the better when you grow with them. And as soon as I did, the world opened.
Oahu. I love the smell of the mountains, the deep sea and sand. The volcanic ash, soot and silt. That’s something I relate with, the volatile galvanic nature to the island. I once lived in a violent, catonic, limbo. Unpredictable, eruptive. But our landscape continues to evolve, as we do. And the water, the water, the water, the turquoise water. It’s knuckles white to my throat. I’m a water baby, always have been. I could spend hours in the ocean, so much so that I developed this Narcissus-esque fantasy of the sea (but that’s a story for another time). I did a lot, discovered a lot. And ran out of time to check all the things I still wanted to do off my list. So here’s what I loved on Oahu. It’s not an exact list, rather, a guide – of what I found to be the most special things on the island. And it’s in no way comprehensive (there’s plenty more I want to see!) but it’s a good baseline to begin. Adapt, discover and create your own memories.
Piggy Smalls (the vegan pho! honestly can’t rave enough about it – i had it four times in one week! the salad of sprouting seeds and the hurricane style creamed corn were also delicious, really wish i tried the beignets!)
Mud Hen Water (dinner. beetroot poke, toss salad and koena hummus – such a favourite. the me so shiso cocktail is divine and so so potent.)
Nobu (elegantly done. eggplant miso, warm mushroom salad with yuzu dressing and crispy rice with spicy tuna – are all favourites.)
The Pig and the Lady (reservation mandatory. so atmospheric – more traditional than Piggy Smalls. loved the mapo vegetables, and again – the pho!)
Lucky Belly (pre-dinner sake, followed by the fungi ramen bowl & beets & spicy greens)
Bill’s (casual brunch, lush vibes and ricotta hotcakes)
Leonard’s Bakery (iconic. the chocolate and custard filled malasadas were a favourite!)
b. patisserie / kona coffee purveyors (visited here too many times! really good coffee and pastries, loved the black sesame kouign amann (incredible lamination), chocolate banana almond croissant and tarte tropizienne. plus, they do almond milk cappuccino’s, which is always a bonus when travelling!)
Diamond Head Market (lots of cakes, some traditional, some not. loved the okinawan sweet potato haupia squares and liliko’i cheesecake. make sure to get the blueberry and cream cheese scone!)
Banan (dairy-free soft serves that are so incredibly perfect for the heat. loved the koko head crunch papaya boat (banana soft serve, chocolate, coconut, cinnamon honey, granola) and still want to try all the flavours!).
Waimanalao Beach (my favourite of the beaches, white sand, turquoise water and good waves. so incredibly private and secluded by a forest.)
Chinatown (wander, photograph the hawaii theatre and old lei shops)
Rainbow Drive In (iconic. didn’t get to stop in and eat, but shot some really dope, atmospheric photos out the front.)
Mount Tantalus (views of the whole city, go during the day.)