The Sea

circa 2008
May 2008 (pre d-day)

Our family loves adventure.  When I was 4 months pregnant with my Boy we went camping on the beach in Kauai.  The 6 hr flight from the mainland was a little uncomfortable but squeezing myself countless times into the airplane potty was worth it. I love floating on my back rocking with the waves of the sea.  I could float for hours letting the currents carry me.  After an endless plane ride, this was especially soothing on my achy pregnant body.  My eyes toward the sky.  Breathing the balmy air.  I'm captivated!  I adore this slowed pace of life.

She has blonde salty hair, a brilliant smile, bare feet and loves the sea, our 6 year old daughter is an island-girl by nature. She snorkels, discovering all kinds of sea life and spends every spare minute lapping up the oceans waves.  

We have a favorite beach for camping.  Anini beach.  Originally is was named Wanini but the stories say a vicious hurricane tore the "W" off the sign.  Ever since the beach has been known as Anini.  That's some Hawaiian style for you.

There's a grassy outcropping where we've perched our tent.  The grass mingles with sand and then drops off into the beach and then to the endless blues and greens of the briny sea.  The tent faces east and each morning the first rays of daylight are felt before they are seen.  The roosters crow right on cue!

circa 2008-Forgive the creepy smiley faces.  This is the cutest picture but you know I need to protect the innocent.

The waterfront is spotted with tents.  

A few yards to the north camps a family of 6.  Their tent is connected by tarps and strings, with towels hanging and sandy, dirty clothes shoved in black garbage sacks.  They've been living on the beach for weeks awaiting government sponsored housing.   There's Isa, a mother of 4 daughters ranging from 2 to 8 years old and a useless boyfriend.

At low tide, the whole family can be seen on the beach for hours collecting tiny little pink shells.  This is their many source of income, selling shells to jewelry makers. Wanda's the oldest child.  Dark hair and skin with wild eyes.  Her body's strong just like her personality. Elise is the second oldest.  Same dark hair but fairer skin, light eyes and a splash of freckles across her nose.  She's feather-light with eager hungry eyes.  

A little farther north, under the Kamani trees  another single mother camps with her 2 young daughters.  Her name is Tanya.  She's a loving attentive mother with long brown hair and salty beach curls.  Her legs and armpits share that same long brown hair.  I love her body.  She's tall and slender with strong healthy legs.  A vegan's body.   Her home is in Portland Oregon were she sews custom baby slings for a living.  Our families become quick friends as our daughters play.

To the west is a small single man's tent.  A young entrepreneur from San Francisco occupied that little space.  He spent most of his days laying back in his camp chair reading and telling us where we could get the islands best fish tacos.  Vacationing on this beach in his chair with a book is a yearly tradition.

As the sun crosses the sky and dusk filters through the campsite we all gather and share a meal. Usually a mishmash of fresh fruits and veggies with rice from the farmers market.  My husband and I feel sick as we watch poor Elise fill her belly till there's no more.  Her eyes roaming the table for any extra scraps.  I have no idea how it must feel to always be hungry and neglected.

Although we'd only know them for a few days, their mother didn't blink when we asked if we could take them for the day.  So, Wanda and Elsie joined us on our daily adventures.  Their mother had no cell phone and no curfew and no way of knowing if her girls were safe.  She was oblivious.  

Wanda is our personal tour guide.  Seeing the island from an 8 year old child's eyes; showing us the secrets of the island, which flowers were edible and which shells could be sold or eaten and pointing out the best secret beaches.  

Elsie waited anxiously for a meal. 

Wanda stood nearby as I was buying beans from the farmer's market, she was checking out the necklaces at a nearby table.   I heard the sickly-sweet voice of an older man persuading Wanda to come near his table.  He singled her out, she's dirty, tan and young...with no mother watching her back.  A vulnerable target.  The intention in his voice was shameless.  Quickly, I was at her side.  My eyes on fire, "She's with us."

Another afternoon we stopped at Bubba's Burgers for lunch.  Elsie ate two cheese burgers, all the onion rings and fries she could stuff into her mouth and a chocolate shake.  The girl still needed more, consumed by the grumble of her belly.

Heartbroken, we watched as the useless boyfriend trade shells and necklaces made by the girls mother for beer.  BEER!   Within the hour, they are drunk in their tent, rustling beneath the blankets as the children draw pictures in the sand nearby.  The useless boyfriend stumbles from the tent, my eyes following him.  He offers Wanda a sip of beer!  Predator.  A somber reality that not all children are born into safety.

My thoughts drifting to the small life taking hold inside my belly.  

We decide to spend our last afternoon on the sands of Hanalei Bay with Tanya and her 2 daughters.  Such a cool little family, we'll miss them.  Tanya, my husband and I sharing the responsibility of watching the girls play in the waves and build their last sand castles.  The sun warms our skin as we laugh and share sunscreen and munch leftover bits of pineapple peppered with sand.  

We all feel the disheartening hopelessness while talking about Wanda and her sisters and their mother, who's nurturing heart has been stolen.  Realizing the constant battle they face from abusers and perverts.  Wishing we could pack those children up and take them safely home.

As I brush the sand from my legs and pregnant belly, gather our things and get ready to drive to the airport, Tanya mentions how refreshing it is to hang out with a couple that isn't jealous.  She compliments me, saying most women she knows become anxious and suspicious when there is another woman in the mix.  I laugh it off while watching my husband splash and play with the kids.  I've never been a jealous wife.  

Always trusting in my husbands complete fidelity.