Before we left Calgary for Miami I had the absolute pleasure of reconnecting with an old school friend. It reminded me how life used to be and and how things can change as years go by.
When I was younger, life must have been more exciting or interesting. I am not sure which but what I do know; I really loved to get together with friends, no matter how busy life got, to talk about what happened to me and hear what happened to them.
Yesterday, last week, what I saw happen to someone else, what I learned, experienced, invented, you name it, it was worth sharing over a couple of beers(not via text or email) with friends who cared to know. Our favorite place to swap stories was a crowded bar with loud music and friendly waitresses and bartenders who new us, our drink preferences and sometimes our stories too.
But then I got older and my stories became about work and everyone else’s did to. We went to the bar less and less to tell our stories as jobs became more important and responsibility dictated it was better to skip the beers and go to bed earlier. We got wrapped up in our lives and careers and then months, even years passed.
Some of us lost touch all together.
In Waianae on Oahu an important part of local Hawaiian culture is to gather with friends and “talk story”. Rob’s Mom spends 4 to 6 months here in Waianae and she has made many local friends who have now become our friends too. This sweet group of Hawaiians also love to get together and share beers and music and experiences. Talking about life, is called “talkin’ story” in Hawaii.
Our friends get together at a table near the beach under a tree aptly named the “bullshit tree” at least 3 times a week. They have met at the tree for years before we had met them and I expect they will meet there for years to come. When we visit Oahu we are at the tree pretty frequently too.
A night at the tree involves bringing a cooler of cold beverages and a snack to share. Friends arrive at the tree early evening, some come to stay, some just drop by to say hi and new comers are always welcomed. Everyone talks story and listens to music, some of our friends play instruments and sing. Snacks, cold drinks and good conversation are shared with the sweet sound of Hawaiian music. After all stories have been told, the snacks have disappeared and the last set is played, everyone packs up around 8 to head home.
Another example of friends coming together is at the Burger King in Wainanae every Friday morning. You can come and enjoy Hawaiian music with your morning coffee. At Burger King it is very much like the tree. People still bring food and stories or a Hula dance to share. It is uniquely Hawaiian, I can’t imagine a Burger King in Canada that would let people come in with instruments and play complete with their own food to share with patrons in the restaurant. It is bizarrely awesome! I have seen this kind of Aloha spirit all along the leeward coast.
To me, a night at the bull shit tree or a morning at the Burger King is a microcosm of Hawaiian culture. The spirit of Aloha is there every time our friends get together. Genuine, welcoming friendship, always there for old friends and new friends too.
The opportunity to get together and talk story is not interrupted or discontinued because of work or any sort of new life responsibility and that is what makes it so special. We’ve been coming to the tree for years and the experience is still the same because time and the changing world cannot change the sweetness of Hawaiian culture.
I feel lucky to know there are somethings in the world that stay the same and it’s experiences like this that let Hawaii hold a place in our hearts that will pull us back again and again.