I put a $15 check in an entirely funky mailbox this morning, there on US coastal Highway 101 in Encinitas. The check was made out to Paumalu Press and snugged in an envelope addressed to a PO Box in Haleiwa, Hawaii.
Back in 2015 when I was married and my wife and I had enough accumulated Alaska Air miles to travel for twenty-six bucks each, round trip Portland to Honolulu and back, we did that and rented a small suv and drove from the airport up to Oahu’s North Shore to a small apartment/cottage we’d rented through one of the on-line “rent me” sites. For eight days. It was a swell time, special, and we swam almost every day in Waimea Bay and drove back and forth on the Kamehameha Highway and sat on the lanai and drank morning and sometimes afternoon coffee and the sunsets were sweet and rainbows appeared often and it was a vacation – my only time there – and maybe you winced at the cost of food and gas and most everything and then paid it gratefully. It was Hawaii.
On the sixth day, I’m pretty sure, I did something – with big encouragement from the wife – I ‘d wanted to do my entire life, beginning way back there in the front yard in Wareham, Massachusetts, age 14 and crooning my best Beach Boys’ imitations to getting around and driving my woodie and, most of all, being one of the everybody going surfing. I paid ninety dollars for a surf lesson at a local surf shop, there on Kamehameha in Haleiwa, and got there early, and after a while this woman showed up looking all laid back and surfy and she was my instructor and her name was Karen and we put a couple of boards from the shop in the back of her really beat pick-up truck and got me some kind of swim shirt to hopefully prevent skin from peeling off and the three of us crowded in the cab and traveled to a local spot and after a while of on-land instruction and advice and warning Karen and I paddled out. She’d said the hardest part would be the paddling and she was right, I only lasted about 20 minutes before heading back in, Brian Wilson no doubt somewhere in the background shaking his head. Remember. “It’s a genuine fact that surfers rule.”
I got up on the board just once, on a very small wave and only for a few seconds. But there and then I was a real gone daddy, living the life, blessed beyond all get out, and still with all my skin.
On the way back to the shop Karen said she had to make a quick stop and we swung by the house where she lived with I’m pretty sure a bunch of other people and she ran in a minute and when she came out she said she’d had to do something for the magazine. And I asked what magazine – me being the writer I am, us writers all in it together and everything – and she said it was a magazine she published herself and pretty much thought up herself and directed herself and got some help with articles and photos, her gist being the north shore of Hawaii is a sacred place and I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way. Spotlight on developers and encroachers, polluters and – well, it’s an old story. This was her version.
It turns out the magazine was the Paumalu Press, just $15 for a year’s subscription or some amount of every three-or- four-month editions, and I gladly, and gratefully, handed over the money. Then I said thanks for the thrill – thanks for dignifying my dream – and she left to do her Karen Hawaii thing and Susan and I left to finish out vacation and fly home, and back in Portland a few months later there came into the mailbox a fresh, gorgeous copy of the Paumalu Press. And they’ve been coming once in a while ever since, and this morning I found a hopefully still working mailbox on 101 and dropped a check in to Karen, with a note that future editions need to come here now, to Encinitas. Things stay the same, like the surf, and things change too.
It’s okay today. Life seems rich when I go all in.