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Thread: I Had A Dream And Lived It

  1. #1

    I Had A Dream And Lived It

    When I was young, I dreamed of living in the tropical paradise of Hawaii. The dream kept me warm on many frigid Michigan winter nights as I watched a howling blizzard from my bedroom window.

    It all began when I was 4 years old and my father taught me how to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian language -- Mele Kalikimaka. My father lived in Hawaii briefly before I was born. He was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy in Honolulu. On the morning of December 7, 1941, he was sleeping off a hangover aboard a small Navy ship in Pearl Harbor when a wave of planes from Imperial Japanese aircraft carriers attacked. His ship was strafed but not sunk and he escaped unharmed.

    My father often joked that after the attack, he was on the first passenger ship back to the Mainland -- ahead of women and children. He never returned to Hawaii and over the years I noticed a wistful look in his eyes whenever he talked about the islands. I decided I wanted to live there some day.

    Growing up, I watched TV programs supposedly set in Hawaii: Hawaiian Eyes and Adventures in Paradise. Little did I know they were filmed on a back lot in Hollywood, but the illusion worked its magic in my mind. At night I dreamed of palm trees, white sand beaches and hula girls dancing in torch-lit ceremonies.

    After high school, I moved to San Francisco and met a former merchant marine sailor who claimed he could get me a job on a cruise ship going to Hawaii. He never delivered on his promise and I settled temporarily for the palm trees and white sand beaches of South Florida where I found a job as a newspaper reporter.

    I kept my Hawaii dream alive for 5 years while I learned the fine points of journalism and my marriage gradually fell apart. When I was ready to burn my bridges, I sent an application to a Honolulu newspaper and I was ecstatically happy when I received a job offer two weeks later. The islands at last, I thought.

    The very next day I received my draft notice in the mail. It began: "Greetings from the President of the United States. You are hereby ordered to report to Fort Benning, Georgia, on the date below for induction into the United States Army."

    Goodbye, Hawaii. Hello, Vietnam.

    I quickly joined the Air Force to stay out of the Army infantry, but that meant postponing Hawaii for four years rather than two. Although I was beginning to wonder if I would ever make it to the islands, I realized that getting killed in the Vietnam war would spoil my plans entirely.

    I spent two and a half years at an Air Force base in northern California before I compiled enough leave time to take a real vacation. Hawaii was the place I wanted to see most in the world and I managed to wrangle a free ride there on an Air Force transport plane. When the plane door was opened at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, I got my first glimpse of the islands.

    The air was hot and humid and perfumed by frangipani blossoms. The high-rise buildings of downtown Honolulu seemed like giant mushrooms sprouting in a sea of rainforest-covered hills. The airport runway dead-ended at a coral reef surrounded by greenish-blue ocean water so clear I could see the sandy bottom.

    I had finally found the home I dreamed about for so many years. It didn't matter that I was seeing it for the first time in person, no place ever felt more like home to me. A sensation of instant deja-vu swept over me. I knew this place, I had been here before. Was it in my dream or in another life?

    Following an impossibly wild two-week stay, I returned to my base in California and submitted a "dream sheet" for reassignment to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. It was sarcastically called a dream sheet because you were supposedly dreaming if you thought you would go anywhere except Vietnam. Three out of four reassignment orders were to Vietnam and most of the others were to hell-holes like Thule, Greenland.

    Two months later a miracle happened. I came to work one morning and found reassignment orders in my mail box. When I opened them and read the word "Hickam," I let out a yell and danced around the office. The officers on duty thought I had gone crazy.

    Homeward-bound after ten long years! Not only that, my new assignment would keep me in Hawaii until my enlistment was finished and I would never have to go to Vietnam.

    A year later the Air Force tried to ship me back to the Mainland to be discharged. Fat chance of that ever happening. I was home and intended to stay home. I fought the plan, showing proof that I had a job lined up in Hawaii. I wore down my superiors and they eventually relented just to be rid of me.

    After a year and a half as a newspaper reporter on Maui, I quit my job and moved to a remote rainforest on the windward side of the island to find pristine Hawaii. For years I lived on The Edge. I was close to broke much of the time, but I looked forward to the sun rising every morning. I built my own cabin with hand tools -- the first construction I had ever done. I learned vegetable gardening, pig hunting and shoreline fishing. I planted banana and papaya trees and harvested wild fruit from the rainforest. I taxed my abilities to survive and this brought out the best in me: courage, resourcefulness, generosity, cooperation. I learned patience and lapsed into reveries while my hands did the necessary work automatically. In the bosom of tropical nature solitude wasn't lonely and poverty didn't feel like deprivation (as it would have in a city.) My simple life seemed to be a state of grace and I shared my bed with a succession of fetching young women who were attracted to me like hummingbirds to a sugar feeder. I found my dream and turned it into reality.

    Henry David Thoreau wrote something about his experiment at Walden Pond that also summed up my own experience: "... if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him ... and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings ... If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

    Although I stayed in the rainforest much longer than Thoreau did at Walden Pond, I eventually returned to "civilization" for the same reason he cited: "Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live and could not spare any more time for that one."
    Last edited by starrwriter; 12-02-2005 at 01:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Blog Entries
    I really enjoyed reading this. Your description of finding "home" but never being there before seemed so real to me. I've had a similar experince with the Florida Keys, unfortunately I'm still waiting for the chance to go back there. It will happen, eventually, but until then I'm enjoying the life I have right now. Thanks for sharing this story.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mkhockenberry
    Your description of finding "home" but never being there before seemed so real to me. I've had a similar experince with the Florida Keys, unfortunately I'm still waiting for the chance to go back there. It will happen, eventually, but until then I'm enjoying the life I have right now.
    When I was a reporter in Fort Lauderdale, I spent a lot of time in the Keys and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere. The Keys are a different world than the rest of Florida -- and the closest thing to Hawaii I ever saw on the Mainland. Keep dreaming, you'll get back there if you really want to.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Hey Starrwriter,
    Thanks for sharing that with us. I was in the Air Force for 5 years, stationed in Anchorage Alaska. A buddy and I managed to save up 30 days of leave and we went straight to Hawaii, Hickam AFB. I think we stayed at a place called the Hale Koa. I always wanted to be an investigative journalist, something about justice I guess. And I also aspire to be a writer. Your story is definitely an inspiration to follow your heart.

  5. #5
    Registered User Ranoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Saudi Arabia.
    I love your story.It shows how ones dream can be fullilled regardless of time.It is really great to have a dream in your life.

    "The future belongs to those who belive in the beauty of dream"

    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Last edited by Ranoo; 12-06-2005 at 01:32 AM.
    "you can fool all of the people some of the time;you can fool some of the people all of the time ;but you can't fool all of the people all of the time"

    Abraham Lincon

  6. #6
    I am very happy for you and that your dreams came true. I only wish the others who went and died in Vietnam would have had the same chance to live out their dreams.
    Mele Kalikimaka you dreamer you.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by rachel
    I am very happy for you and that your dreams came true. I only wish the others who went and died in Vietnam would have had the same chance to live out their dreams.
    So do I. A couple of them were close friends of mine.
    Quote Originally Posted by rachel
    Mele Kalikimaka you dreamer you.
    Mele Kalikimaka, Rachel.

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