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Meeting in the Middle
Dedicated to Waikiki
Submitted by Bruce
I was surfing in front of my hotel at Waikiki on a Sunday morning. My company had sent me to Hawaii to attend a convention and it would begin at 11:30.
The water was warm and glassy. The sun shone from a deep blue sky. Diamond Head, exotic and green, loomed above the beach. The waves were gentle, easy to catch and fun to ride.
I watched while other people caught waves. Most of the people were nicer than I expected them to be to a Californian like me. They nodded or smiled. They even let me have some waves.
After kicking out of one wave I found myself closer to the shore where novices were learning to surf on smaller waves. As I started to paddle back outside I saw a Japanese girl trying to catch a wave. She was too far forward on her board. As the wave lifted the tail the nose went under water. Surfers call this kind of mishap a pearl dive. The water's resistance stopped the board but the girl kept going head over heels in front of the wave.
She saw me watching as she climbed back onto the board with a rueful grin on her face. She was extremely pretty with her dark brown hair pinned behind her head. Her bikini was dark blue with a pink hibiscus pattern.
"You're too far forward on your board," I said.
Her expression was polite but puzzled. She didn't understand.
I motioned her back toward the middle. She scooted back a foot. A wave came. She paddled. The board slid down the face of the wave. This time the nose stayed above the surface. She jumped to her feet a bit unsteadily at first. Then she spread her arms for balance. She rode the little wave for ten yards before it lost its energy.
"Yes!" I shouted.
She paddled back toward me, obviously stoked, her smile so brilliant that it was like the sun was rising all over again.
Then I looked at my watch. It was time to go to the convention.
Tuesday evening I surfed again. Afterwards I stood on the beach watching the sunset. I turned back toward the hotel and there she was. She smiled. Tomorrow my convention would end and I would fly home. There was no time to be shy but I had bought a Japanese/English dictionary and spent the last few days studying it.
"Yushoku?" I asked. "Dinner?"
We had dinner. We talked with the help of my dictionary, laughing at the awkwardness. We held hands and walked on the beach in the moonlight. We kissed goodnight.
The next afternoon we sat in the hotel lobby waiting for a shuttle to take me to the airport.
"Sayonara" she pouted. She gave me her email address.
I wanted to see that smile again. Goodbye wasn't good enough. On this island where two people from different worlds had met in the middle the Hawaiians had the perfect word.