Continued from here
Montana was supposed to be the final chapter. I was supposed to come back to Seattle and lay low and just finish writing the book. But I have very little self discipline. I really wanted to settle and living in Seattle at my place on the North side was the first time in my adult life that I lived at one address for a full year. If you’ve read the rest of this site you know why that would be a milestone for me. I owned furniture and had stuff and if I left for Hawaii, I would have to sell or get rid of it all. I had friends, the owner of the Chinese food joint loved me, the local bartenders knew how I liked my drinks. In other words I had a life.
At the same time I had to face the fact that I was in bad shape and going down fast. I knew I could keep going and crash or jump on a once in a lifetime chance to make some major changes in my life for the better. I knew I had to go so I booked a one way ticket and called them back to tell them I would be there the Monday after next.
I didn’t even need to say a word, Mike grabbed his hat and we went straight to the bar for several drinks while I figured out what the fuck was going on and what I was going to do. My mind was spinning and I wasn’t sure how Vicky was going to feel about it and I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on with her anyways but when I told her she turned around and bought a plan ticket for the week I had off right after my birthday.
So it was set, I had to pack my shit and get ready to hit the road yet again, despite the fact that I had sworn to myself that I was done with it, that I was going to finally settle. Yes, life on the road had been a blast but it has a lot of drawbacks. I can’t say that I regret any of it but I was also tired of it. I had almost thrown away my grey frame pack several times but held on to it for sentimental reasons never thinking that I would have to strap it on again and I’m damn glad I kept it since it’s served me well over 9 years and countless adventures.
My last few days in Seattle where a blur of work, saying goodbyes and seeing the sites for one last time. Mike and I spent as much time as we could enjoying the sun and dry pavement skating Alki Beach. We got drunk one night and instead of being stupid and trying to drive we decided to go to the skate park and sober up. I should mention we had long boards, not short boards, and we were too drunk to drive. How the fuck one of us didn’t eat shit and end up breaking something is a miracle but the moon was shining and everything was happening to fast for me to care.
Part of me felt guilty in a way, I was getting ready to turn 32 and most of my friends had wives and kids and where buying houses. I was still living recklessly but I was a well respected in my career and had a proven track record as a Chef. But there was Mike doing the exact same thing only as a Tattoo Artist. I asked him what ourselves at 15 would think about all of this and he coughed and passed me the joint and said “We would think we where fucking awesome!!! We didn’t sell out, we don’t compromise and we smoke as much weed as we want to.” And he had a point, as unconventional as our lives had turned out to be, we were having fun, we weren’t stuck in an office or prison cell and we didn’t have to take any shit from anyone. So what if we didn’t own homes or have good credit, success means different things to different people.
My going away party was a blast. Not a lot of people showed up but the ones that mattered did. I got close to blacked out drunk and told everyone how much I loved them and how much I was going to miss them, the normal sentimental bullshit. I don’t like very many people so it’s rare that I’m in a room full of people that I truly love and I don’t take it for granted.
I hate flying. If I ever get famous I’ll be like that dude in Wayne’s World who travels around in a Limo or just have Mike drive me around everywhere. As much as I hate busses I would rather take a 12 hour bus trip then a two hour flight. I was not happy to find out that I had to deal with take-off and landing three times. Seattle to Salt Lake City with a 2 hour layover, then to LA, another layover and then finally to Kona and ironically SLC was the only place that had a smoking section where I could get away from the squares and hang out with the cool kids.
I’ve lived in some amazing places, places that most of you will only read about. Flying into Kona was still a shock I won’t forget and I was hit with a wave of awe and excitement. The only disappointment I felt was the fact that there were no girls in hula skirts passing out Lai’s since apparently that’s only in movies. I grabbed a cab to the Hostel I was staying in for the night and sat in the back speechless.
I had to stay on the west side of the island for the night before taking the bus to the East side of the island the next morning and I was going to make the most of it. I checked in dropped off my bags, scored a bag of weed and jumped on my board and went straight the beach in time to catch the sunset. I sat and smoked at the beach, grateful to be alive, grateful to be me.
Kona is a tourist town that reminds me a lot of Virginia Beach from my childhood. I skated around for a bit and then used my 6th sense of chaos to find a dive bar a few blocks away from the main drag. It was an open air Tiki Hut/sports bar that was filled with real people drinking and smoking. I felt at home as soon as I walked in the door. To my left was an old sailor who kept telling me the same five racist jokes over and over and I kept playing along since he kind of reminded me of my Grandfather Dexter. The bartender was happy I was cool and bought me a round as soon as he found out I was a Chef since industry people take care of their own.
I didn’t sleep much that night since I was sharing a room with six other guys and had to be up at 5 am. It didn’t help much that I really hadn’t gotten a full night of sleep in several days but my mind was still racing. I was up at 4:45 to go get coffee and get to the bus stop so that I could get to Pahoa were I would catch a ride to the Yoga center which was 5 miles in the away, off the grid, in the middle of the rain forest.
It wasn’t a bad bus ride and I wish that I had been more alert to pay attention but I too tired to see straight and was trying to get some rest before meeting my new bosses. They had told me to meet them at the local health food store when I got to town. As soon as I got off the bus I found a head shop, bought a bowl and got stoned, then I walked to the health food store.
Pahoa is a small town known for being a haven for free thinkers and people that can’t live by the normal rules. Tourists go through the town but they don’t stay long and it’s about as “Real Hawaii” as you can get. Most of the locals are farmers and artists and it’s an extremely tight knit community where everyone knows and looks out for each other.
One of the first things that I noticed was the sense of friendliness. It was Southern hospitality without the racism. People looked at you and said “Hello” or “Aloha” when you walked past them on the street for no other reason than to be polite. After dealing with the “Seattle freeze” for so long it was great to be around people that had manners.
The original contract was for me to cook dinner five nights a week for two students and a few staff for four weeks. This was a work exchange program but I was told that they wanted me to stay for the full season and work other gigs that I would be paid for. This is why I bought a one way ticket; I thought I was going to be there for a while making money. Keep these numbers in mind when it sounds like I’m talking trash about the center and certain people. I have a lot of respect for what I learned at that place and overall I came out of it a better person but I saw the red flags as soon as I met *Fremont at the market.
It takes a lot to intimidate me but I know true power when I see it and this dude had paid his dues in life. He and I did the standard handshakes and introductions and I jumped in the back of the truck and headed into the jungle. The air was clean and the sun was out, rain was misting down and I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time laughing at the fact that I was really there.
I had some pretty lofty goals for myself, I was going to quit smoking, switch from coffee to tea and get back in shape. I hate to tell you this but skinny guys can be out of shape too and my body was wrecked due to injury and stress. Years of bending over the wrong way, not sleeping, not eating, heavy smoking and drinking and a generally unhealthy lifestyle had taken its toll but it was my mindset that I was most concerned about since that was the basis of everything. I didn’t like myself very much and until I changed that it was impossible for me to change the rest of it. If you don’t like the car you’re driving, are you really going to spend the time and money to pimp it out? I was functional at best but nowhere near the level of performance that I expected of myself and knew that I had the potential to be. I thought that living at a Yoga center would give me a break from the stress and let me heal and grow. It was a great idea on paper but do things ever work out as planned?
As with all my travels there where a very colorful cast of characters and I got to meet them all as soon as I arrived. It’s not like I was going into the situation clueless. I had done several gigs like this before and I know better than anyone how weird things get when you take a diverse group of total strangers out of their lives and routines and away from there coping mechanisms, put them in the middle of nowhere together then subject them to a ton of stress. I knew shit was going to hit the fan and my plan was to stay in the background, cook, focus on my goals and stay the fuck out of the drama. And for the most part I did. Ironically it was this approach that got me into trouble.
The first person I met after Fremont was *Mud, that was his name and that’s what he did, he worked with Mud. He was also way too into dreams and it was really all the guy talked about. Imagine Dog the Bounty Hunter, only on heavy amounts of drugs. As soon as the guy saw me smoking a cigarette, he started telling me about how I could get free nicotine patches and then how it would mess with my dreams and they where the gateway to the truth, blah blah bullshit.
*Christy was one of the students who had come out from the East Coast. Right before she left shit had hit the fan in her life and her entire world had been flipped upside down. She was only 21 and dealing with a lot of shit she really wasn’t ready for. At the same time she found out how strong she really was when she was put to the test.
Getting to the center gave me a second wind and as soon as I dropped off my bags I grabbed my shoes, tuned my board and went straight to the beach. It was 2.8 miles of well paved downhill through the jungle, the type of run most riders would kill to do. I’m not going to lie, the first time scared the shit out of me since I was riding blind and had no clue what the route was like, how steep the hills where etc, and I hit it full blast. Granted I almost ate shit a few times but the rush you get from something like that is something I can’t describe other than it’s the most terrifying/serene thing you can experience and makes most drugs I’ve done feel like a joke. 30 miles per hour is a lot faster than it sounds when you’re only a few inches off the ground and once you’ve crashed a few times, you know how bad even the slightest mistake can be.
I sat at the beach and was finally able to relax and take a deep breath for the first time in what felt like weeks. I had made it somehow and I didn’t take it for granted. I was living and cooking in fucking Hawaii man, how could I not feel blessed, humbled, grateful and completely stoked about it. I had a lot of work to do, both in the Kitchen and on myself, not to mention still trying to run the website as well, but I was in the perfect place to do it. I sat there watching the waves and smoking for what felt like hours, not thinking, just being and breathing and without meaning to I slipped into a deep meditation naturally. Thoughts just slipped away and I felt at peace for the first time in way to long.
*** To be continued very soon
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