Posted on March 16, 2016
When you asked me to follow you on your first trip to Hawaii and document your experience, I knew I had to be there. You encountered so many new things…
The breathtaking beaches only Hawaii can boast of. Its smoldering sunsets that leave others pale in comparison. Pearl Harbor Memorial and the reverence that seeps into your bones as you stand, staring down at the sunken USS Arizona, with her oil still escaping to the surface. Sweat running down your back as you hiked Diamond Head. Digging your toes into the sand as the water washed over your feet. Driving through the clouds to reach the top of Haleakala Crater. Surf lessons and catching the wave on your first run. Reminiscing with an old friend, and meeting new ones. Wearing your Steelers jersey to watch the big game, and tossing playful jabs at the Broncos fans beside you. Going on a private whale-watching tour with the U.S. Coast Guard. Finally getting your “warrior” tribal tattoo (which turned out beautifully), and sharing your own warrior story with the artist. Meeting Mick Fleetwood and receiving a tribute at his restaurant. Taking selfies with nothing but expansive ocean behind you.
As indulgent as it all was, it wasn’t a vacation. It was a time for reflection. A few days away from the hustle and bustle of life. A getaway to clear your mind and rearrange priorities. An opportunity to evaluate your life. It was a chance to detox. It was a gift given to you…
Our host was beyond gracious. He provided you with anything you needed. And oh man, did he do a great job. From cereal and yogurt each morning, to transportation and stimulating conversation. Through it all, he became a friend. We’re so fortunate to have added him to our individual life spider webs–I know the overlap will serve as a thick strand.
I saw a few moments when you were able to let go. Just a handful. It was the look of being free. And so I grinned quietly. You didn’t see me looking, and that’s the point. When the world isn’t looking at you, is when you’re able to just be. I chose not to lift my camera in some of those instances…they deserved to remain untouched. But the others? I caught them. Sometimes it was a massive grin, sometimes it was a contemplative trance. Do you know why I loved these fleeting moments? It’s not because I knew you had it all figured out–it’s because I knew you didn’t. And you were recognizing it. That is why I was excited for Hawaii…the things you can’t anticipate.
But my favorite moment? It’s the second to last image in this gallery. We were sitting in the corner of that little coffee shop, Cafe @ La Plage, with only a couple hours left. There were many unspokens sitting on that table in the sunlight. But we talked about the book we plan to put together, and other creative visions. All I had with me was my phone…I remember contentedly snapping that photo. They were some of the most genuine seconds during your trip.
Posted on March 10, 2016
“Just have fun, act crazy, anything you want.” That’s all it took and you became a sort of praying mantis. ;) I can’t believe how hard that made us laugh. It didn’t take you even two minutes to warm up and get comfortable. And I loved seeing that. Getting a glimpse of all these sides you have and your many faces made me realize just how unique you are, and that’s such a beautiful thing. There are a lot of cookies out there–all cut from the same little shape. But not you. You’re no standard sugar cookie. You’ve got a kind spirit and gentle voice, but underneath it all you carry this cute sass and complete randomness. Being multidimensional is something to be proud of, and I hope you continue to nurture it. I’d say you’re off to a dang good start.
With graduation quickly approaching, I encourage you to take a moment to slow down. Pause. Take in all the glory of your senior year (and all your high school years!) The bad times and the good. The tears and the laughter. Your fears and your newfound confidence. Your struggles and your triumphs. Your doubts and your dreams.
Family and friends are standing behind you. You’re ready to take on the world. Go get it.