“This is it” I say to Thomas, recognizing the jungle gym in the font yard. “This is the house”. We trundle our bags off the street and up the driveway and load them onto the wide front porch. I hesitate for a moment , then ring the doorbell and wait.
There is the equivalent of the Monarch butterfly migration happening in my abdomen. I start to doubt my sanity. What on earth am I doing here? This is a really dumb idea. Is it too late to turn and run? Thomas has already made himself at home in the cubby house and doesn’t look like he’s ready to go anywhere at short notice.
The door swings open, and there stands Lisa. My dear friend Lisa. I’ve know her for… I don’t know… eight years? I’ve known her through pregnancies and births, house purchases and renovations, parenting trails and tribulations, pet acquisitions, first days of school, family holidays, Easters, thanksgivings and Christmases. I’ve watched her career blossom and always admired her incredible talents. And she was there, right by my side, offering invaluable support when Claus died. She was there throughout my awful/wonderful pregnancy and birth and she has been there ever since to watch Thomas grow and grow and grow.
And yet, this is the first time we have ever met.
She is a little shorter than I imagined, but not much. She looks a lot like her pictures. She clearly (unlike me) has not been photo-shopping herself to within an inch of her life every time she posts a self-portrait online. We stand there for a moment then give each other a slightly awkward hug. I try to make my child (AKA ‘the icebreaker’) come to be introduced, but he has found one of her son’s toys and runs off to play, leaving me to break ice on my own. We go inside and do ‘the tour’. The awkwardness doesn’t last long and we are soon chatting away, just like we have done for the last however-many years, online.
This trip, this crazy ‘let’s take a year and go round the world’ madness, has been years in the planning. But (thanks to the Aus. Dept. of Foreign Affairs – looong story) the actual route came together relatively late. We could leave Australia in January and needed to be in Tijuana, Mexico at the beginning of Feb. I put a call out on social media to see if any of my online, on-route friends would be up for a visit. Lisa’s virtual hand shot in the air AND she offered us accommodation in her studio. In Hawaii. Which lies roughly halfway between Australia and Northern Mexico. Handy. Also? It’s freakin’ Hawaii, folks! It was a no-brainer. We were going to Hawaii. To stay with someone I’d never met, but minor detail because… Hawaii!
One crazy ‘cross-the-dateline-and-arrive-before-you-leave’ flight and two borrowed bicycles later and here we were here.
Holy holiday batman! How’s that for an awesome start to an adventure?
Many more adventures followed. In a wonderful week of being chauffeured around by our excellent hosts or travelling on the public busses, we managed to cover seemingly every square inch of Oahu. I could write a book about it, but I’m going to let the pictures do the talking now.
One million thank-yous to our new ‘offline’ friends, Vince, Lisa, Carter, Tyler and Oliver for their hospitality and generosity. We hope we can do the same for you one day.