You’d look better in a couple of coconuts,” Tavita smirked, eyeing me wickedly.
“Shut up, you perv.” Kesa pushed him out of the way and draped an enormous shell necklace across my collarbone.
I had been waiting for her to change out of her costume after finishing her shift at the PCC when she decided to play dress up with me. The shell felt heavy and cool on my chest. A thick grass skirt rustled loudly each time I moved. Kesa stepped back and smiled. “Perfect.”
I felt silly and scrawny and exceptionally white but enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
Tavita appraised the finished look with a discerning eye. “I still say coconuts, but whatever.”
“Good idea,” I smirked. “Why don’t you go fetch some and leave us in peace?”
He pouted, transparently. “No coconuts for you. I’m taking my machete and going home.”
“You’re not supposed to be in here anyway,” Kesa reprimanded him. “Go use all those flirtatious charms on some tourist!”
Tavita flumped dramatically out of the hut, his thick grass skirt rustling loudly as he went.
“So,” Kesa said, folding up her Fijian garb, “I’ve decided what I’m going to do.”
“With what?” I asked as I attempted to free myself from the elaborate costume.
“With my life.” Kesa came to my rescue and undid the knots. “I’ve decided to go on a mission. Then, I want to go to medical school.”
The church had always been important to Kesa. My inability to fully adhere had been an occasional sticking point between us along the way. But Kesa was everything that was right with the church, its best aspects manifested. She was going to love serving a mission and I knew the people she met along the way would be grateful for her service. With her guts and drive, I knew she would thrive from there on.
“So now that you’ve got your life all planned, wanna do mine?” I laughed.
“Oh, Andi. I don’t think you’d like anything I’d plan.” She sighed, “Sorry, babe. You’re on your own.”
I shrugged, “Worth a shot … But it’s ok, because I do have a plan, sort of.”
Kesa raised her brow, “What’s your plan?”
“I’m transferring to University of Hawaii.”
Kesa’s brows shot up. “Really? You’re leaving BYUH?”
“Yeah. I think I have to.”
She looked at me skeptically, then shrugged. “It will be a new adventure.”
“Yep,” I smiled. “And I’m going to have another new adventure before that.”
“I’m going to study abroad in Italy. A whole semester of art, language and culture in Italy.”
Her jaw dropped. “That’s amazing.”
As the moment settled, I realized that this would likely be the last time we’d be together. Kesa must have as well. Silence hung in the air for a moment as we contemplated what to say. But Kesa made it easy, “Tavita made me crave coconut. Wanna go get some?”
We got to the Samoan Village just in time to see Tavita coming down from the top of a palm tree. He slid effortlessly down the rough bark, his lava lava flapping a bit in the tropical breeze. The tourists applauded wildly in response.
Tavita joined us beneath the shade of a nearby grass hut. He grabbed a coconut from a nearby pile and hacked it in half with one swift motion, wielding his machete like a warrior. He divided up the fruit among us, handing the last piece to Siali as he flopped down on the grass. The crisp white flesh was delicious – soft, moist and so full of sweet, nutty flavor that each bite burst with sensation.
We had passed many days like this our first year at BYUH. It felt good to be there again. How strange it was – this experience that had once been so foreign was now so comfortingly familiar.
We spent the next lazy, sun-soaked hour joking, laughing and trying to outdo each other on coconut consumption. I was infinitely grateful to be back here again. And to have come in the first place. I loved Hawaii. It felt like home.
I thought back on the past 18 months. Even after everything that had happened, I still loved it here. This day had reminded me of that. I may have been a mess for much of my time there, but what an amazing place to be a mess in. I thought back on all the amazing people I had met there – sweet, beautiful Gabriel; edgy, vibrant William; kind Cole; charismatic Gavin; delightful Emiri; wise, no-nonsense Hudson; funny, kind, endearing Tavita and Siali; and of course, brilliant, loving, vivacious Kesa.
Tavita offered to hollow out a couple of coconuts for me but I declined.
“If you let me take a picture of you wearing the coconuts,” he intoned, “I will pose beside you, holding my machete in my mouth like a regal warrior king.” He puffed his chest up with exaggerated pride.
“But,” I retaliated, “who will stitch up your mouth, when you slice open your face?”
This is the latest installment in my story. If you haven’t yet read the previous entries, click here to start at the beginning. Then continue to read each post in numerical order.