On my first morning on Oahu, I woke up to a double rainbow over the ocean, right outside my room at the Turtle Bay Resort.
A few nights later, I woke up again, this time to a fireworks display right outside my Aston Waikiki Beach Tower suite.
All the signs were there: my decision to head to Hawaii all by myself (in part for a law professors' conference, in part for a break from the hectic juggling act that is my Philadelphia-area life) had been a really good call.
A lot of people don't like to travel alone, but I've never understood why. Sure, I missed my husband and two tween daughters like crazy. But, talk about crazy? I'd been going crazy. I'd been trying to grade papers and prepare for conference presentations and prep the kids for end-of-school chorus concerts and get the poodle groomed and write a book proposal and keep up with the insanity that is the end of the United States Supreme Court Term.
I deserved a break, one designed just for me, one where I answered to no one. My husband agreed. I headed to Hawaii several days before the conference and took a deep breath of clean air.
It's hard to describe how special it was to stay in beautiful rooms (at Turtle Bay, a large cottage with a vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and a deep soaking tub that made every muscle relax; at Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, a 38th floor penthouse suite with every available luxury, including a giant lanai looking out over Waikiki Beach). And it's even harder to explain the peace of mind I got from that having that space all to myself. Sure, at home, I can barricade myself in my master bath, with a copy of a celebrity magazine and a glass of wine, but, as practically anyone could tell you, being in a space you don't have to clean or organize or even see again is different.
To call it "relaxing" is to make the understatement of the century. No, there is something soul-adjusting, something deeply satisfying, something reviving about just choosing to nap when it's raining, soak in the tub when it's dark out, read a silly book as the sun rises over the water and start the cycle all over again.
Now, between the time change and my state of pure exhaustion, I have to admit (and you've probably gathered) that I slept a good portion of my first few days on Oahu away -- those ocean breezes are just as great as Elvis always claimed they were. But there was still plenty of time for fun, like the Segway tour and trail rides at the Turtle Bay Resort (past the sites where they filmed "Soul Surfer" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," natch), a shore dive with Deep Ecology (through underwater rock formations and over fish-filled reefs) and an oh-so-relaxing massage at Turtle Bay's Spa Luana (that "lomi lomi" thing has got it going on).
And I had plenty of appetite for mango and pineapple (delivered daily to my room), kalua pork nachos with goat cheese and plum sauce (on the beach at Ola Restaurant), chocolate souffle (at the lovely 21 Degrees North) and just-caught garlic shrimp (at one of the North Shore's famed "shrimp trucks"). And then, there was the hula. There was always time for hula. Yes, yes there was.
And then, on day four, I woke up energized, just in time. SpeediShuttle driver Chaco came to pick me up to drive me to Waikiki Beach, Oahu's center of hubbub and action and all things nightlife. And, although I'd been afraid that I was going to miss the near-absolute quiet that was the North Shore, somehow, someway, I found myself caught up in the rhythm of the action there.
Sure, I still snoozed more than normal, but I also made my way out to the airport for a not-to-be-missed helicopter tour of the island with Blue Hawaiian. I headed offshore to the Waikiki Ocean Club, where I gave helmet diving a try, sampled beef curry then snoozed on the giant sun deck. I shopped 'til I dropped then ate crab legs and Asian noodles and the best scallops ever at the Hyatt Regency's new hot spot, Japengo. I kicked back with a facial at the Hyatt's Na Ho Ola Spa.
And then I slept.
And then I woke. And then I watched the fireworks. And then? Then there was hula.
And then I flew home to the tweens and the poodle and the book proposal and the end-of-school ruckus. I soaked in my own tub -- and then I scrubbed it out. I slept in my own bed -- and then I changed the sheets that had gotten a bit grimy from doggie paws and tween cookie crumbs. I put away my scuba gear and my kukui nut necklaces and my now-devoured beach read.
But then you know what else I did? I taught the tweens to dance the hula.