Sitting on my terrace very early this morning sipping my espresso as the golden sun begins to rise and the darkness of night begins to slowly turn our clear sky into a magnificent blue, the tranquility becomes my perfect meditation sphere.
The peaceful quiet of early morning is the best time for me to contemplate my day. However my mind began to wander (happening far too often) to my youth. During the years I lived in Honolulu, on the twenty-first floor of a high-rise apartment, my view of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean was limited since the building was a bit inland. However, the sparkling night lights of Honolulu made my evenings more than magical. I did not own a television and my first move every morning was to turn on the music. Vinyl records or maybe the AM-FM radio set only to the one and only jazz station with speakers powerful enough to blow out the window glass provided me the energy and stamina to go to work with ease.
Another view from my western side window was Punchbowl, the national cemetery of the Pacific. A very sobering site which visitors should not miss. On my mother’s first visit to Honolulu, I drove her to Punchbowl and she solemnly commented that the headstones of the fallen indicated an average age of 18 – 20. We lose our young so many ways but war is the saddest. It is the resting place for Ernie Pyle (author extraordinaire) and Ellison Onizuka (Challenger astronaut) and many hundreds of our military who represent the sacrifices of war. As we departed I asked my mother what were her thoughts since she had lived through WWII. Her whispered response was she had a calm feeling of peace. My memories of my life in Honolulu are unique and so special and I often visit Punchbowl in my mind to renew my sense of peace.
I finished my third espresso, which my cherished niece Paula has named rocket fuel. It was time to switch to pomegranate iced tea. I began to visualize our home in Cleveland just off Lake Shore Boulevard and across from Euclid Beach Park. The original park, which opened in 1895 and closed in 1965, was my summer escape. I enjoyed the many rides, fun house, and the roller-skating rink. My partners many nights were dubbed the “in group”. We proudly carried our own very white skates, slung causally over our shoulders on our way to the park. We would trek proudly to the rink and skate for hours to the music produced by the gigantic organ, perfect for sliding across the polished wooden planks. Occasionally we’d sit on the benches to rest and giggle about who was wearing what and which guys were the cutest.
Summer was spent outdoors, playing our games of hide and seek, kick the can and numerous others I have forgotten. Once the streetlights began to twinkle on, mothers would stand on the porch and bellow our names; it’s time to go inside. But we’d crouch in our special hiding places until the last call became apparent by the increased urgency in the tone of voice, and we had to return home. Those very early teenage years can be daunting, but our coming of age was simple with fun filled days and nights enjoying our summer vacations. School was looming on the horizon and we began to dream of the winter snow sledding down the hill behind our home. Fun for all seasons.
Last week I was enjoying my early morning fresh squeezed orange juice at the Poseiden cafe and enjoyed watching other guests. The locals and tourists were enjoying a morning coffee and tapping on their phones nonstop…what has become of verbal conversations? Before I depart my home, I set my phone to vibrate and it is in my pocket only to be answered for an emergencies. I began to question: are we all spending far too much time on our phones, computers and searching the internet only to miss out of some sweet part of our lives? Yes, I also am guilty of time on my laptop writing my thoughts and my experiences in my retirement home. I reflect, is the youth of today spending too much time online? Suddenly my faith is restored as Marin, my English student, arrives on his bike with skateboard in hand. He stops to visit Abby dog before riding down to Cavtat Riva, swim, skate and bike up the hill later today. Fun in the sun is not lost for our young and I am excited to listen to his fishing story. He regales me about the big one who got away and how he was so downhearted just standing at the dock with a very sullen face. At that point a very gracious guest called to him from a magnificent yacht to come aboard. His very first visit on a private yacht and he was enthralled by the glorious tour provided by this kind man. A waiter offered him a coke and he sat on the aft deck enjoying time with a generous man who talked with him about Cavtat and fishing. This will be one of Marin’s greatest memories and I know he will tell his newly embellished story often.
After completing this post, I will begin my slow and easy stroll down to the Posejdon cafe and my special table under the pine tree savoring the aroma of fresh local foods being prepared in the open-air kitchen. I don’t bother to check email or send messages, but spend my time sitting next to our clear blue sea enjoying any small cool breeze. The other morning, I marveled and watched a black sea gull gently clean her wings, splashing gently in the clear waters of our Adriatic. She flew to the top of one of the water polo goal posts, opening her entire wingspan and dried her body in the warm sun. None of the other patrons seem to notice her ritual. I finally remembered to take my phone to use the camera.
My retirement days are still spent with simple pleasures in Cavtat, my forever home. Come, join me and share a glass of fine Dalmatian wine, I await your arrival…