Authors: Robin Jones Gunn
I studied Laurie’s expression. “You have more, don’t you? More than just the dozen you brought to show me.”
Her mouth twitched slightly.
“How many photos do you have?”
“Two hundred and fifty-nine.”
I went across the room and sat next to her on the edge of her unmade bed. How could I nudge her forward on this? I didn’t understand her timidity.
“Laurie, you realize, don’t you, that what you have here is not a hobby. This is a gift. A calling. I don’t understand why you haven’t pursued getting them displayed or at least framed.”
“I really love these pictures, Hope.”
“I can tell.”
“As long as I keep them tucked away like my own little treasure, then no one can reject them or criticize them. I’ve seen what Gabe has gone through over the years. Everybody has an opinion. Every dealer has a price. I’ve watched him struggle with his work becoming less of an art and more of a commodity. I’m not sure I could bear that kind of pressure.”
“Laurie, you’re projecting way, way out there. It doesn’t have to be overly commercial for you.”
“But my name.”
“What about your name?”
“Giordani. Don’t you think it would catapult me into a big arena, if I showed up with some art with the Giordani name on it?”
“Don’t sign them with Giordani. Sign them ‘photos by Laurie’ or use your given name—Laurinda Sue. You don’t have to ride in Gabe’s wake. Start your own tsunami.”
She didn’t look convinced.
“Okay, not a tsunami. Your own little ripple, then. The point is, you know in your gut that you have to do something with this gift. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be burning a hole in you, and you wouldn’t have brought them here to show me.”
“You’re right, Hope.”
“It’s like you’re carrying around this 259-pound baby that you want to protect from the big, bad world. And you know what? You just have to give birth and trust God for what’s going to happen after that.”
“I wasn’t going to show them to you until later in the week,” Laurie said with a sniff.
“I’m glad you brought them out when you did. I love them. You have created amazing works of art. Each one evokes deep emotion. You know what your pictures do? They invite people to worship by focusing on intricate details of God’s creation. You’ve been entrusted with this gift, Laurie.
You must be a good steward and do something with it.”
I could tell I was going into challenge overload. I had the tendency to do that after living so long with a coach. Women need a lot less overt pushing than men, but I often forgot that.
“I’m done.” I gave her arm a squeeze. “Let’s go do something fun. We have some birthday celebrating to do.” I reached for one of the brochures. “Outrigger canoeing, anyone?”
aurie opted for the catamaran instead of the outrigger canoe. We called the concierge and signed up for a late morning sail, which was departing in half an hour.
“I’ll be quick.” Laurie disappeared into the bathroom. I had a flashback to college days when Laurie would change outfits a minimum of three times a day. Neither of us had a lot of clothes to select from back then, but it always took her twice as long to get ready for class.
I put on my swimsuit with a glance in the mirror that hung above the wicker dresser. The reflection woman looking back didn’t give me the slightest peep of sass. Apparently these Hawaiian hotel mirrors have much better manners than the mirrors they sell in Connecticut.
My cover-up was one of Darren’s long-sleeved, white cotton shirts, which I’d confiscated at the last minute. I put on my
maternity shorts and my all-terrain sandals. Reaching for my bottle of suntan lotion and my sunglasses, I was ready to hit the beach. Hobo-style.
Laurie emerged in a classy one-piece black swimsuit with a long, sheer wraparound skirt in black with gold swirls. All she needed was to put her lei around her neck, and she would look like she was on her way to a photo shoot for the cover of a resort apparel catalog.
Slipping her small feet into a pair of black strappy sandals she said, “Remind me to buy a pair of flip-flops at the gift shop. These are the only sandals I brought, and they aren’t very practical for walking in the sand.”
“You want practical? How about these four-wheel drive Hummers here?” I held out a foot, modeling my industrial-strength leather sandals. “These are indestructible. Darren says they were designed by some organic Oregonian and come with a fifty-two-year warranty.”
“A fifty-two-year warranty? Really?”
“No, not really. That’s my husband’s idea of a joke. They don’t come with a warranty of any kind. All I know is that they’re supposed to keep my posture in proper alignment. They’re nice and practical for a frump-mama, but not at all dainty or cute.”
“Hey, you are nowhere close to being a frump-mama! Seriously, Hope, you look great. I’ve never seen your skin so radiant. All you need is a pedicure and some glimmery polish on those toenails, and you’ll feel like a new woman.”
“Is that your charm school secret?” I asked, looking at her pampered feet.
“It couldn’t hurt. When was the last time you had a pedicure?”
I grinned at Laurie, as she gathered up her beach bag and turned to look at me, waiting for an answer.
“Seriously? You’ve never had a pedicure?”
“You’ve never gone to a salon of any sort and had your feet taken care of?”
“That settles it; I know what I’m getting you for your birthday.”
“We aren’t giving each other gifts, remember?”
“Oh, right, but you already broke that rule, remember?”
I grinned. “How about if we both get pedicures?”
We rode the elevator to the lobby in a funny little conversation gap. It was as if we’d entered a dome of silence. I was contemplating what it would have been like if Laurie and I had come to Hawai’i when we were twenty. Before Gabriel, before Darren, before our children, and before all of the other crazy, life-defining stuff.
I was glad we were here now instead of during the manic young-adult years. Even with the aqua swimsuit under my husband’s wrinkled shirt, my all-terrain sandals, and my
never-been-manicured toes, I was beginning to feel comfortable inside my own skin. It was a feeling I liked.
The hotel pool area was crowded. We wove our way down to the beach activities booth on the sand and checked in for our sail. A large catamaran awaited us, only a few yards away.
“You’re the ones,” the activities assistant said.
“Are we late?” I asked.
“No, I meant you’re the ones who just signed up, right?”
“It’s good that you called because only four other people were signed up, and the guys won’t take out the cat unless they have at least six paying passengers. So we’re glad you signed up.”
“How many passengers do they usually take out?”
“They can hold up to thirty-eight, but we usually keep it to twenty-five or so.”
“Sounds like we’re going to have the sailboat to ourselves,” I said.
“Catamaran,” the activities assistant corrected me with an edge to her voice. “There is a difference.”
We soon discovered some of those differences, as Laurie and I boarded the gleaming white craft that motored out to sea, floating on the two buoyant hulls. The boat’s overall surface was flat with a wide, woven mesh at the front, which was occupied by two teenage girls wearing itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikinis. The two other passengers were an elderly Asian couple who had made themselves comfortable on the padded bench seats inside the belly of the catamaran.
Laurie and I sat outside, toward the back, getting our bearings and watching the crew, which consisted of two buff young men and one skinny young woman wearing a two-piece bathing suit in lifeguard red and a bandana around her neck. I’m not sure what her fashion statement was, but it seemed to work for her.
As soon as we were far enough out on the water, the crew ran up the colorful sail, and the boat skimmed along. I held on and felt the wind pulling my hair in every direction. Laurie looked exhilarated. She always did have a need for speed.
“Any chance you want to go up there to the front?” She nodded toward the mesh area where the girls were ducking their heads and squealing each time a wave came up and splashed them.
“Go ahead, if you want. I think I’d better stay right here until we slow down a little.” I didn’t trust my equilibrium to get me all the way to the front of the catamaran without falling into the water.
The boat tacked in another direction. The two guys adjusted the sail, and our speed slowed to a gentle bobbing along on the big blue sea rather than trying to leave skid marks on the water.
Waikiki’s shoreline had diminished behind us, looking like a puppet stage designed by an imaginative child. The buildings stood like rows of colorful LEGOs, left midway through their construction by a youthful creator who had outgrown the project before it was completed.
All around us, before us, above us, below us, the world was blue.
“Something to drink?” one of the guys on the crew asked us.
“Sure,” I responded.
“We have an ice chest of beverages in the galley, and we set out some
“Some what?” Laurie asked.
“Snacks. If you know what you want, I’ll bring it to you.”
“That’s okay. We can go and get something,” Laurie said.
Now that the catamaran had slowed down, I was curious to see the insides of the craft. The older couple nodded as we entered the spacious cabin. To steady myself, I sat beside the woman.
“This is nice in here,” I said. “Cool and quiet.”
The woman nodded.
I reached for a potato chip and munched away.
“Do you want some water, Hope, or something else?”
“Water sounds good.”
Laurie brought me a cold bottle. We sat a moment, trying to politely nibble the chips and skim the surface of the creamy dip with baby carrots but not make a mess. We couldn’t tell if we were interrupting this couple, or if they were just being quiet. Down in the more stable hull, the wind wasn’t blowing. The sun wasn’t shining. The blue was gone.
“This doesn’t feels like sailing,” I whispered to Laurie. “Let’s go back up where the wind is blowing.”
Nodding to the sedate couple, Laurie and I returned top-side,
slowly making our way to the front. If we were going to be on the ocean, I wanted to feel like we were out where the action was happening. I couldn’t imagine how packed this vessel would be with twenty-five or more passengers.
Laurie had planted herself on the mesh netting, and I was making my way toward her with my wobbly legs, when one of the teen girls beside us let out a shriek. “Shark!”
I grabbed the railing and held on, trying to stay out of the way while one of the crew guys hopped across the mesh to look into the water. He laughed. “It’s a school of dolphins.”
Laurie helped me sit beside her, and we leaned over to see the putty-colored creatures gliding effortlessly alongside the catamaran.
“They’re so graceful,” Laurie said. “It’s like they’re trying to race us.”
“Look how the light makes them shine,” I said. “The water is so clear. I just want to reach over and touch one of them.”
For a long stretch, the dolphins kept in perfect formation, escorting us as we sailed along.
“What kind are they?” Laurie asked the young woman on the crew who had joined us to watch.
“Spinner,” the young woman said. “We haven’t seen any out here for a while. I’ve missed them.”
One of the guys on the crew started to tease her. “I’m sure they missed you, little haole girl.”
“Hey, who you calling a haole girl?”
“You, haole girl,” he said.
She gave the guy a friendly shove. “You watch it,
boy, or you’ll go in for a swim with the dolphins.”
They joked back and forth while the dolphins slowed their pace and fell away from us. I scanned the water for any sign of the friendly creatures, but as quickly as they had appeared, they disappeared.
“See what you did?” the clever girl with the bandana around her neck said to the guy. “You scared ’em away.”
“Not me. You scared ’em, haole girl.” The guy had such a great smile and easygoing manner that it seemed he was enjoying the teasing as much as the girl was.
“May I ask you a question?” I said. “What does
“No breath,” the island boy said.
“No breath?” I repeated.
The girl turned toward me. “It’s what the Hawaiians call someone who is just visiting the islands. Someone who isn’t a local. It’s not a very polite term.” She gave the guy another punch in the arm.
“Auwe!” He cried in mock pain, rubbing his arm.
“You big baby.”
“Hey!” the other crewmate called from the back of the catamaran, breaking up the little flirt-fest. “Somebody check on the line on the port. It looks like it’s tangled.”
“You check it.” The guy gave a chin-up nod to the girl.
“Fine. I’ll show you how it’s done.”
He kept grinning as she made her way across the mesh
with ease. It was a rather entertaining pleasure to watch these two interact. It made me think of Darren and the way he had perfected the art of teasing when we first met. I was the shortstop for our church summer league softball team, and Darren was on second base. He says the night he watched me slide into home and scrape up my leg was the night he knew I was the one for him. I couldn’t imagine sliding anywhere or scraping any part of me on purpose now. I wondered if Darren missed the old Hope.