Maui No Ka Oi (Maui is the Best)

So if anybody watches MTV or heard of the TV show Catfish, then they know what this story is about. No, I wasn’t on the show, but my story is just like the ones on it. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Catfish is a series of people talking and dating online, and finally meeting each other for the first time in person, sometimes they aren’t who they say they are, some are transgenders, or a completely different person than the one displayed online. It was started after the guy Nev made a documentary of him talking to a girl online, but she ended up being someone completely different.

In the summer of 2010, I was leaving southern California to go play a soccer tournament in Florida. I realized that there are a ton of other people in the world, and I could talk to them, almost like a pen pal. So I went on Myspace (what I had back then) and started my search. I wanted to do Hawaii because that is my favorite state, and ever since I was little I wanted to go there. I was searching and I ran into Jonah. I liked the quotes he had up so I added him. (The more detailed story is in my previous blogs.) He didn’t think it was weird and we texted off the bat.

It wasn’t long before I started to like him, and one day I told him, but his response back was that he didn’t believe in long distance relationships. We still continued to speak, however. But eventually we stopped talking, no reason, it just gradually died out.

About two years later, I graduated from high school, so college was on my mind. I had HPU, Hawaii Pacific University, in mind. I wanted more information about it or the islands, so I thought of asking Jonah since he lives there. I did, and ends up HPU is on Oahu, and Jonah lives on Maui. I had a ton of questions about Hawaii altogether.

We started texting each other everyday. Then we started texting everyday as soon as we wake up and until we go asleep. Then it transitioned to phone calls. Late night phone calls until the morning. Then I asked him to make a Skype. He didn’t want to at first, but he eventually did. With all this happening, we were growing  closer together. We ended up liking each other, not just me liking him.

We started talking in a “dating” matter for about 6 months, and it was during that time we knew we wanted to meet each other. But it wouldn’t be a little road trip, he is about 2,000 miles away, and it would have to be done by plane. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew what I had to do, since I was working, I bought my ticket to Maui, and he made arrangements to take care of me for Christmas and New Years.

My mother was freaking out, worried that he’s not who he says he is, what if he’s a serial killer, what if he tries to throw me over a cliff, what if he keeps me locked up, what if he’s a weirdo, what if he has anger issues and takes it out on me, etc. “Jeez mom, relax, I Skype with him everyday, and I met him family, you can’t fake all that.” Nope, no matter what I said she still worried, which is understandable, and everyone she told, they were in huge shock that I was doing this, especially because I was going by myself.

So Christmas Eve came, and my mom dropped me off at LAX. I was only a few hours early, so it didn’t help the anxiety. I Skyped with Jonah for a few minutes, using the one the airport offers. Eventually I got on board, and I sat with a weird Canadian couple for about 5 hours. Really, strange people.

Okay, moment of truth, I’m about to meet a guy I’ve known for 2 years. I was beyond nervous, shaking and walking funny. After walking for a while, I called him to figure out where he was. He was hiding behind a Christmas tree so I couldn’t see him; I got a glimpse of him walking to me and smiled and looked straight to the ground. We hugged, for a long time, I couldn’t believe it, finally in person, it felt unreal. The best part was, he was exactly who he said he was.

The first few days felt like a dream; his family was amazing and took me in like their own, even his little sister would call me sis. Although I had to visit the doctor about 3 times and was in serious pain, his family fixed me back up. His mom even had to help me in the shower once, “What a way to get to know someone’s parents”, she told me. But none the less, it was incredible how his family and I bonded.

Jonah showed me around his island, from a native’s perspective, so it was like a tour guide, but even better, because his heart was with the land. He opened up and showed me everything he could in what limited time we had. He drove me to Hana, and we stopped at a freshwater cave. After Hana, we continued, and he made another stop, a waterfall, we had to walk barefoot more than half of the trail. His ways were changing me, but I wasn’t complaining, I felt free. I felt like this was home.

We continued on the road, even when it turned to a dirt road, we were now in Kaupo, where he is originally from. It’s almost like the country side of Maui, Rolling hills, cows, ranches, no lamp posts. I loved it, we even saw an owl hunting for bugs as we drove.

New years, I met his Portuguese side of the family, they got crazy with fireworks, it was really awesome. His mother hugged me, and told me,”Welcome.” As in, I’m apart of the family now. I teared up a bit. I didn’t want to leave, but sadly I had to, two days later. However, his parents bought a new ticket for me to return to LA one day later, I am extremely grateful for that, and all that they have done while I stayed there.

Leaving was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. The last day, you have to be happy because you’re still there, but in the back of your mind is that burning fact, you’re not going to be here anymore. By the end of the day, it was eating me away. His parents has their last words with me, his mom even teared up as we hugged goodbye. I got into Jonah’s truck, and started crying as I saw them all come out in the rain, and standing there until I left. I started bawling on our way to town, I couldn’t stop myself. I grew so attached to the Baisa’s in such little time.

Jonah and I ate sushi, as our last night together, then headed to the airport. He started to tear up, then I started to. We’ve come a long way in just two weeks, now we were boyfriend and girlfriend, so leaving was even harder. As we entered the airport, I took notice of his red eyes, and knew mine were probably just as red. We got to the final part, where I had to go on my own. I hugged him and left with sniffles but was only a few steps away till I had to go back into his arms and say that I didn’t want to leave. He said I had to before I miss my plane. So I let go again, and walked on, without looking back.

Once the plane took off, I shed a few tears, not knowing when I’d return, hating the feeling of leaving that family, of my family. When I arrived back in California, it was a depressing welcome, but I shook it off, because I was going to see my mom and my sisters. My mom picked me up and took me to work with her, I couldn’t stop blabbing on about everything that happened. It was the best two weeks of my life.

Once at her work, I stayed in the truck to hopefully get some rest, but I looked through one of my bags and noticed a card. I opened it and the card said “Just a hug… Just for you…”, inside it said “Just because”, along with $150. Ku’uipo (Jonah’s mother) wrote,

We are so happy to finally meet the one person that makes our son smile the way that you do. We have been blessed by your presence in our lives. ALL of our lives! Jonah has been waiting patiently for all these past months for your arrival. Now that you are here, it will be especially hard to see you depart, (if only for a little while). These are very hard, but very adult choices that the two of you face. Just know this, both of you are not alone. We will be here for the both of you. Because Jonah chose you to be part of his life, you have become a part of our lives. Again, we have been blessed by you. Jesus is the very center of our lives and he has given us a wonderful gift. The gift of prayer. We will be praying for the both of you. We have been since we found out that you two were getting close. We believe that Jesus will make a way when there is no way. Because we believe, we can find joy in seeing you soon and be patiently anticipating the reunion. We have grown very fond of you. You will take a bit of our family with you, and we will keep a bit of you with us. God bless you and we will see you soon!

Love and Aloha

-The Baisa’s aka Mom and Dad, and Shanna

I started to tear up when I read it, and she knew me well enough to know not to hand it to me, but sneak it in my bag because I would have gave back the money. I was apart of their family, they took me in, and now their house is always open to me. Jonah gave me a ring when he asked me to his girlfriend. It is beautiful, made in Hawaii, and engraved in it is the phrase “ALOHA AU IA ‘OE” which means “I love you” in Hawaiian. It was him saying that he will always be in my life. Something that I truly believe.

I decided to share this story to the world, or who ever wants to click and read it.  Because maybe there are some that are in a similar situation. I’ve told this story to my coworkers, and they are all happy for me, and wish to meet him. He’s going to come to Cali for my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and stay for two weeks, it’s my turn to show him my world, although it may not be as amazing as his. Disneyland, Knott’s, Six Flags, Santa Monica, Venice, are just a few places I’m going to take him to.

I only worry that not only will it be so different than what he is used to, but my family.

My mother and grandpa feel as though I have my whole life ahead of me, so why settle for a guy so early, and who is so far away. I also want to move there to continue my schooling at Maui college, but my mom thinks I’m going to throw my life away and be a beach bum. I don’t see how if I’m going to continue to go to school. All together, it is very frustrating and conflicting. But all I can do is stay true to myself, and hope that He will guide me down the right path. But no matter what, I’m not letting go of that stranger I met on Myspace.

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HI&CA: The New Hawaiian Boy

Jonah, an old name I haven’t spoken about in a while, but now, it was brought up so frequently. But he wasn’t the old Jonah I knew. He was different. No more smiles on his pictures, not even in his texts. You looked anywhere, this kid hardly smiled. But I remember that first day we spoke, he was all smiles. I didn’t want to bug him about what happened to him. I stuck to what my objective was. I asked plenty of questions about Hawaii. I probably sounded like an annoying tourist to him. The next day, I texted him, and the day after that, and the day after that.

I started to notice, that even thought he didn’t smile, he somehow managed to make me smile. That old happiness returned. I wasn’t sure if I was giving back the same feeling. Since the guy I was with at the time only argued with me, we were hanging by a thread. And now all my attention was Jonah. I started getting curious, I wanted to dig deeper than just bland questions about Hawaii. I found an  old travel book about Hawaii. I looked at the maps, skimmed about every island. I pin pointed where Jonah was, I read about Maui endless times, I asked him about legends, that were briefly mentioned in the book. He wouldn’t let me in. It wasn’t necessarily hostile, but he wouldn’t budge.

It took time, it was like comforting an animal that was defensive and ready to strike, I had to show that I meant no harm. I told him a Mexican legend. In return, he told me a Hawaiian one. He was very protective over it, because I was an outsider, he thought I wouldn’t accept it the way he does. I’m not a tourist, in fact, I love discovering other cultures, I’m slightly obsessed with the Native American culture.

Very slowly, he began to open up. Even an occasional smile. I would get super hyped knowing that I was able to make him smile, since now they were rare, they had more value to it. Jonah would say he was spoiling me based on how many smiles I would get out of him. We starting staying up late, like realllly late. And texting starting to not be good enough, we starting calling each other, spending hours on the phone. Laughing together, or at each other, since the way we spoke was so different than what we’re used to hearing. It was addicting, I couldn’t help it; it started to be an everyday thing.

I didn’t notice how close we were getting until one day he didn’t really text me, and I was worrying like an over controlling parent on prom night. What was I getting into? I had no idea, but i kept digging deeper.

I was tired of staring at pictures of him on Facebook, I wanted to see him. I asked him to make a Skype. I could easily tell it wasn’t his thing, but I kept bugging him to, I mean asking. Finally, he made one, just for me (lovely isn’t it?). Oh gosh, I’m getting super nervous how I was with phone calls a few years back. Shoot. He said he’s on, maybe I shouldn’t have done this. Oh my glob. I couldn’t step back now, I stood my ground, and got on. I was a nervous wreck, I couldn”t even look at him in the eyes. I felt like such a weenie. I didn’t think that seeing him with movement would make such a difference. Maybe it was the fact that he could see me. I don’t know but I felt so awkward, I felt like I failed.

Oh wait, now I recall why I was a hot mess. Because a few nights before that. I know that I broke up with the dude I was with. I depended heavily on Jonah to lift my spirits, although I never mentioned it. He was my motivation to strive to all that I can (that’s another story). But one night, over the phone, I couldn’t hold it in again, I had feelings for him, stronger than the last time. However, I held my tongue, I didn’t want a relationship since I was just getting out of one, but I felt such a strong urge to tell him how I feel. I was beating myself up, holding my words back, biting my lip, I eventually blurted it out, assuming that it’ll be the same as last time. I just figured, let it out, you’re just going to mess it up again. Idiot, why can’t you show some self restraint? I started breaking down, crying. But something different happened this time.

He told me something that went like this, hey Tomiko, you know this little bird told me that he likes you too? Wait, what? He likes me. He likes me too! It’s different this time! I was so happy, even though I probably looked disgusting, it was such a relief.

HI&CA: A Few Years Later

I guess I never really thought about it much, the fact that I no longer spoke to Jonah. I suppose friends really do come and go. So why am I wasting my time talking about it? Because they truly do come and go. He came back… Well technically speaking, I came back.

When we first spoke, it was sophomore year of high school. Now I was in my senior year, with a boyfriend of a year and some months. I’ve been getting bombarded by colleges telling me to go to their school. The one that caught my eye the most, was Hawaii Pacific. I told my dad I wanted to go there, he thought I was just saying that so I could be on a four year vacation. Eh, he was right to some extent, I mean, who wouldn’t want to study in paradise? But no, I just felt like it was my way out, a way to nature and biology. I’ve been dreaming of that place ever since elementary sandbox days.

My dad ends up going to Hawaii with my step mom, and two little brothers and little sister. They come back and tell me it’s a good school, and were more at ease with me going there. I was like… are you kidding me??? You can take a one year old and an eight and a seven year old, but not an eighteen year old, who always wanted to go?! I guess I didn’t qualify as a daughter that time. But regardless, that was the final straw, I was set, I’m going to Hawaii.

I told my (former) bf. And he said that his dad’s girlfriend’s (also the mother of two of his kids) father lives in Hawaii and maybe we could go move in with them there. I was desperate at the time, with tensions in my house with my mom and step dad, I wanted to go, but he forgot to mention it could take years since everyone is still stationed here in Cali. I couldn’t wait that long, sorry.

Besides, we weren’t exactly on the best terms either, with our off and ons, I doubted it would really happen (I just so happened to be right in the soon future). But to pass the time, I wanted to do research, get a little feel of where I’m planning to go. What better way than from someone who was born and raised in Hawaii? OHHH JONAH. Good thing I kept his number after those two years (even though I had him on Facebook). So I texted him. Let the games begin.

HI&CA: Lost…

So I don’t exactly recall the details of what went on when we first spoke to each other, but Jonah wasn’t hesitant to give me his number, and off the bat we got along with each other. Generally we would just talk about the differences between Hawaii and California, and of course, ourselves.

Funny thing is, whenever I asked for his address he would kind of be weirded out; I mean who wouldn’t be? But I wasn’t discouraged, it was always fun to talk to him. When I went on my trip to Florida, I would be the last one asleep, out of my coach and teammates. Even with the time change, it didn’t work on me, and guess who I would be up texting until the morning? Yup, that’s right, Hawaii boy; he would even have to tell me to go to sleep for my games the next day.

He was always caring, even if he never said much about himself. And he never judged. Sooo you can guess, I started getting feelings for him. When I would call him, I would have this huge dorky smile on my face, and I would giggle whenever I heard his accent come about. As I said earlier, I didn’t believe in long distance relationships, so I have no idea what I was thinking, but I couldn’t help it, because, in fact, I wasn’t thinking. I just told him one day that I liked him. His response back was that he didn’t believe in long distance relationships, and he was sorry. I just played it off, yeah, that’s cool bro. But on the bright side, he never stopped talking to me.

I really enjoyed it, but somewhere along the line we just gradually stopped talking to each other. No more texts from the 808.

HI&CA: Prologue?

I’ve never been one to believe in long distance relationships. It was a joke to me, or a pathetic way for guys to feel good about themselves, because they could easily have two girlfriends at one time and boast about it. Never, in all my 18 years, did I everever, think I would be in one.

I guess, this could pass as a love story (still crossing my fingers for a happy ending, not that I want it to end), maybe Hollywood will take it and make it into a movie like The Vow. Who knows, but regardless or what will happen, this is an old story. It started years ago, during a summer, about two or three summers ago. I was about to go to Florida for a national soccer tournament for AYSO. I was super hyped up, being that I live in southern California, traveling across the country just to play soccer during July was an amazing dream come true. It was also an awakening.

Hey, I’m not going to be in California anymore, there’s a  whole other world out there. With this curiosity floating in my head, an old desire for a pen pal, and being fresh out of a year long relationship with my first serious boyfriend, I was set to find a new friend. Someone who isn’t from where I am. Well, no one really does mail anymore, so I went on my Myspace to start a search. I thought, where’s the coolest place ever? Hawaii. Duh. I only been longing to go there ever since I was a little girl. So I narrowed it down to Hawaii, and male, and thus my search began. I went of the profile pictures first. If they didn’t look appealing, onto the next. If one interested me, I’d look at their profile, to see what kind of person they generally say to be. I still remember; white tank top, a big smile, long black hair. I clicked on it, he seemed pretty chill. I read his stuff. It was his quote that snagged me up like a hook with the best bait to catch bass.

“Love is like a wave. You can’t control it or own it, and sometimes you don’t even see it coming. when you’re on it, you feel like you’re on top of the world, and when the ride is over all you can think about is getting back on it. Sometimes it lets you off easy, and other times you get dragged under. But in the end you just gotta go with the flow and see where that wave takes you.” – Jonah K. Baisa

Jonah Kaulanaokouioakalani Baisa. What a middle name. What a quote. Okay so how to make this the least creepiest. “Hi, I’m Tomiko, a weird stalker girl from California that wants your address so we can be pen pals.” No… That won’t work. However it exactly went, he handled it well.