He is a grizzled veteran.
His eyes bleached ice-blue in a leathery brown face; pocked by the blistering foreign sun. He looks tired, but resolute, radiating the fatalism of a man who has fought many a battle, marched many a dusty mile; a man who has lost, and won, and lost again, and now just marches on.
The old man glances at me and nods. I nod back.
This old man and I have shared this lonely beach a thousand days, cast up here by the uncaring winds of fate, staring out at the empty sea and dreaming of escape.
He is old, I am . . . not as old, and yet we share a common fate, stranded here . . . so very far from home.
OK, OK . . . so it’s not a beach, it’s a bench . . . and we’ve shared it for about 45 minutes, staring longingly across the busy highway to the wave-lapped sands of Hanalei Bay, on the island of Kauai.
But it seems like a thousand days.
Behind us lies the bustling labyrinth of the Kauai Island Farmer’s Market and Craft Fair,andsomewhere within that swarming anthill of touristy avarice are our wives.
I’m here with my friend Dane, whose wife Michelle is also lost, with mine, somewhere within this seething den of aloha-scented capitalism. We’d wandered, Dane and I, through the narrow, hibiscus-decked alleys, fingering the same kukui nut leis, and shark-tooth necklaces at each booth, and finding entertainment where we could . . . until an elderly native matron had indicated that she would prefer that we stop throwing gravel at the feral chickens.
After that, it got kinda boring.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to simply wasting time. I am, in fact, quite adept at it. Just ask my wife.
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