Right after I began to meet with Camille, my “hazardous” boss, Fred, started talking to me about one of our employees in Hawaii, Derek.  Derek, a geologist, handled all of our hazardous waste projects in Hawaii.  I guess Fred had decided that since we were both single, it was his duty to introduce us.

I don’t remember the exact details, but somehow Fred tricked Derek into calling me.  It was an awkward phone call, but it turned into an interesting conversation.

My bosses thought I was cutting edge when I subscribed to Prodigy, an online news service that offered timely stock quotes, and e-mail.  I also found out about a program that allowed me to “instant message” Derek, if he was sitting at his computer and had the software installed – an early form of Skype without video.  (This was 1990.)

That’s how Derek and I communicated and got to know each other – computer to computer – after that first phone call.   He told me that he was a poet, and I asked him to send me one of his poems.  I was blown away.  My praise motivated him to send more.  Then he began to send me poems that he had written while thinking about me.  His poems touched my heart and soul.

Our relationship progressed to the next level of frequent phone calls.  He told me one month his phone bill was $600.  Our conversations seemed endless.  Thanksgiving and my birthday were approaching, and Derek told me that he wanted to fly to California to spend time together in person.  Phone calls and computer messaging were great, but we had reached a point where we wanted to meet each other face to face.  We had exchanged pictures, but, as you know, that isn’t the same as looking into someone’s eyes.

Three days before he was to arrive, he called and said that he couldn’t take the time off from work, because of an unexpected project.  Both of us were disappointed, but I casually said, “Why don’t I come to Hawaii?”  He said, “That’s a great idea.  I will call and make a reservation for you, and leave the ticket at the airport for you.”

I had never been to Hawaii, so I was excited about going to such an exotic place that I had heard so much about, and I was eager to meet this romantic guy who wrote beautiful love poems to me.  But I was also nervous – this wasn’t just a commonplace trip…

I had told Derek that I needed for him to meet me at the gate when I arrived.  I had had some bad experiences of being in strange places and not knowing what to do or where to go.  At that point in my life, I was still fearful about that.  He assured me that I had nothing to worry about; he would be there.

I vividly remember that plane ride; I sat next to a young, handsome marine.  We shared our stories, and he encouraged me that it was terrific that I was willing to take that risk.

When the plane landed, the gate area was completely empty.  My fears assailed me, and I didn’t know what to do.  So I sat down to wait. No cell phones back then.  I, of course, was thinking the worst – that he wasn’t going to show up.  I figured that I would eventually go to the ticketing area and trade my return ticket for the earliest flight back.

After about 30 minutes, Derek, sweating, came running up to me, the only person around.  By this time, I was angry, as well as feeling stupid.

Derek apologized profusely – said he had been caught in traffic – then realized that he hadn’t bought me a welcoming lei, and had to find one…

It took a little while to calm down, because we also had he awkwardness of our first-time meeting to deal with.  Much to my regret, I was not attracted to him in person.  I felt horrible about it, but tried to carry on a casual conversation.

Because of the work I was doing with Camille, in learning how to have better relationships, I decided to gently talk to him about how I was feeling.  He took it really well and didn’t get upset at all.  That scored points with me.  It seemed like his attitude was, “Well, we gave it a shot and you’re here in Hawaii for your first time.  So let me show you around the island, and you will have at least have a great story about an unusual weekend to talk about.”

The fact that he was so patient and low-pressure worked to his advantage.  By the end of the second day, I was getting to know the poet in him and feeling sparks.  He had put a lot of thought into taking me to the most interesting and breathtaking places.   The romantic dinner on the beach at sunset may have been the highlight.  I had his undivided attention for the entire weekend, and he treated me like royalty.

When I flew back to California, I was thrilled that I had made the trip and gotten to know him in person.  We had made plans for me to come back to Hawaii for several weeks at Christmas.  The outlook for us was definitely promising, and he had swept me off my feet.

His phone calls began to occur daily and he wrote even more poetry, specifically to me.  I kept his poems, but cannot find them right now.  I will have to add one later.

That Christmas was one of my most memorable.  Derek lived on Oahu, and he had shown me some of the most popular spots when I had visited for the weekend.  Now we had time to tour most of the island.  We also took a one-day trip to the island of Molokai, which was very interesting and uncommercialized.

However, during a hike to see what was reputed to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls, we had to cross a treacherous stream.  I was not confident about that, so Derek went first, to show me how easy it was.  He slipped on a rock and broke his wrist.  It was a really bad break, and we were in the middle of nowhere.

We got back to our rental car, and found someone who told us that there was one hospital on the island.  I drove as fast as I could, because he was in tremendous pain.  He was the only patient, so was seen promptly.  I held his good hand, while they worked on the broken wrist.  It was hard to watch him suffer, but once they had popped it back into place and casted it, he was more comfortable.  Pain pills put him to sleep, and somehow I managed to get us both back to his house.

The next day, he was so mad at himself.  He was right handed and had broken his right wrist.  This meant that he couldn’t drive his stick-shift car, and it was going to hamper his ability to work for about 6 weeks.  I also felt kind of bad, but was happy that we hadn’t both broken a bone in that stream.

He was uncomfortable and didn’t like dealing with the hassle of it, but knew it was temporary.

After 3 weeks in paradise, I headed back to the mainland, but left my heart in Hawaii.




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