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.