Channa and I sit on the beach and watch as Benny teaches Zach how to surf. He stands in the clear blue knee deep water beside Zach who is lying prone on his surfboard. Benny coaches Zach on how to time the oncoming waves so he knows when to paddle and catch the wave. The waves are breaking close in and their size and form is perfect for learning. A wave comes. Benny points Zach and his surfboard in the right direction. "Paddle, paddle, paddle," Benny enthusiastically yells out . Zach gives it all he's got and catches the wave. He stands up! Oh my God - he's caught his first wave! Benny is generous with his time and spends at least an hour in the water with Zach. In no time Zach develops confidence in his ability to catch waves. I jump in the Pacific and swim out to Zach to congratulate him. I used surf and know the thrill that comes with riding waves. The Hawaiian sun, warm winds, and clean water define why they call Hawaii paradise. As I begin to swim, I feel my tight muscles stretch out and the soreness in my lower back ease as I pull each arm over my head and shoulders that move me through the water.. The water is an elixir for my stress.. As I meet up with Benny and Zach there is no need to ask if he's having a good time. My normally stoic younger son is grinning ear to ear. I remind him to close his mouth unless he wants to drink a whole bunch of salt water! After taking a long swim, I return to our homestead on the beach and encourage Channa to come in the water but her leg is so sore that she wants to stay just where she is. Her left leg is now purple from her fall. I let the trade winds dry me off and then return to the water to swim some more.
Zach is bonding quickly with Cousin Benny and stays close to him. What a good guy. I'm grateful for his warm heart, love and generosity. After a few hours on the beach, Benny suggests we head home and make dinner. We pile back in gray Toyota Four Runner. On the way back into town we stop at a roadside juice bar for a snack. It has the architecture of a thatched hut - as we get out of the truck, we see an old hippie. This guy has long hair and a beard and is babbling with words that only he understands. I whisper to Benny " looks like this guy has had one trip too many." We laugh but at the same time, I feel sorry for him because I know the long-term consequences of what drugs and alcohol will do to a person. Zach has an electrified look on his face - not from seeing the guy but reflecting on where he is and that he just got through learning how to surf. Zach. It's a Kodak moment - he looks so happy! I'm happy seeing Zach smile and that he appreciates being here. We continue on to the store to pickup some food for dinner. We pull into a large parking lot and lo and behold I see a Costco sign. I can't believe it. The big box stores have made it to the Hawaiian Islands - Costco, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target are all here. I guess this is “progress.” Benny asks if we want steak for dinner. Feeling like he already had done too much, I suggest we go out to dinner. But he says the restaurants mostly cater to tourists and are very overrated and overpriced. We get steaks, salad, fresh papaya and head for the cash register. As I pull out my wallet, Benny tells me to put my money away, that we are his guests. Wow, how nice. We head back to his house and Benny fires up the barbeque while Zach and I take turns to take showers and into fresh clothes. The swim in the ocean has helped to remove the fatigue from the long flight and jet lag. Benny cooks the steaks just right and Channa puts together a salad and heats up some bread. We all sit down and have a nice family dinner.
I share my gratitude to everyone at the table for being able to be in Kauai. But on another level, in a different compartment in my heart and soul something is wrong - where is Sam? I'm feeling bad vibes.