Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our final aloha - Sunday, July 31, 2011

We left Waikiki at 5:00 AM for the beginning of our 11 hrs. of flight time home. Hawaii is invigorating and peaceful, at the same time, offering relaxation and unlimited opportunities to either separate oneself from ones money or to “party ‘til the cows come home“! It’s a place full of choices.

After checking our baggage, we bid our farewells to David,our excellent Honolulu guide, and proceeded to the gate for our early flight in the hopes of making our LAX connection in time. FYI, American Airlines does not serve any food whatsoever on their flights, including those of extended duration. So, we fortified ourselves with bagels and boarded the plane. Branden, another veteran friend from the waiting area, told us he has never left Honolulu on we waited. Naturally, Branden and Mater became fast friends!

Lo and behold, the children sitting next to us on the first flight are playing with…drum roll, please… none other than…MATER and some of his friends! I struck up a conversation with the mom explaining our travels with Mater and asked permission to take some photos. She loved the idea and, as the very active children sitting behind us joined Tyler and his trucks, I took some photos to add to Mater’s memories. It’s simply serendipitous that our little tow truck companion is among his peers once again - a reunion of sorts, really! - as his human companions also return to family and friends who have never left our hearts and minds and whose familiarity brings warm comfort to our hungry, wandering souls. Tyler had a hard time saying goodbye to Mater but, in the end, all was well!

While the hosts and hostesses on the flights were less than friendly and accommodating, this first leg of our two flights home was uneventful and, as expected, barren of nourishment. We left Honolulu @10 minutes early, much to Branden's shock, and arrived in LAX with limited time to race to our next departing gate, treating everyone in the airport to a “Home Alone” run of urgency s0 as not to miss the last available flight home. We arrived at the gate in time to board the plane and get settled in our seats. But Jamie was hungry and was determined to get a meal so she approached the steward telling him that unless they wanted her passed out from lack of food, they had to allow her to get a meal to take on the plane. After all, it was a long time without food and what were they thinking not offering food or stocking enough on the plane for purchase?! He informed her that she had exactly 9 minutes and she took off in pursuit of the “spot-on” “last supper“. According to Jamie, she tore through the terminal toward Burger King yelling, “Coming through! Excuse me! Excuse me!” and finally hit her mark. Running to the front of the line and relocating those already in line a bit further back, she informed the BK employee of her situation and ordered hamburgers and French fries for all of us! Thank goodness for some understanding patrons! Grabbing the bag, she repeated her pleas of “Coming through! Excuse me! Excuse me!” to those in her way, finding more aggression in herself than she realized she had and returned to the gate agent in…8 minutes! Meanwhile, I was counting people and knew I had seen Jamie board the plane but couldn’t find her now. I was not concerned because her daughter’s seat was next to her and she did not seem concerned of her mother’s absence and then we saw her…Jamie busily working her way down the aisle triumphantly carrying bags of Burger King with burgers and fries for us all! What a welcome and generous surprise she offered! We greedily consumed our gifts as the passengers around us simply oozed with drooling envy! Leftover French fries were offered to our group and with no takers (after all, we were full now!), Jamie announced their availability to the entire cabin. While I am certain most of those hearing this wanted to take advantage of the offer, none did until I spotted the young man sitting behind Jamie with a longing look. When asked, he happily accepted them and all was right with the world. Thanks, Jamie for your heroic and entertaining efforts!

The LAX to JFK flight went quickly for me while chatting with friends remembering our adventures and reviewing the blog and photos. Such wonderful memories we all have!

We arrived in NY on time, collected our luggage and found our driver to take us home, but not before meeting Heather‘s daughter, Jocelyn. Heather’s husband, Chris, was picking her up to take her home to CT and brought their little treasure to welcome her mommy home. Jamie had the bonus of a short reunion with her granddaughter and well…Does it really get any better than that?! It was yet another moment to remember! Animated conversation accompanied us on our trip home. Karen and Ken left us first and we went on to join our cars that would take us home.

I, for one, take from my wanderings the gratification of exploring new places and discovering bits and pieces of the human spirit (including my own) that was previously unfamiliar while having made some new friends along the way. These are memories that have become part of who I am along with friends who have enriched my life. No worries, no regrets, hakuna matata, kaore he aha ki a au, 'A'ole pilikia.

Welcome home, my friends.

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