Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Farewell to Haolewood

Yes it’s time to move on to another planet. I’m moving 15 minutes down the road to the lovely town of Kilauea and leaving behind a year and a half of interesting memories at the original Planet Haolewood world headquarters. Roommate #1, let’s call him Scooter, appeared to be drunk on the day that he moved in, shortly after I had taken up residence myself. He introduced me to his “ex-girlfriend” who was helping him move. I thought that was a little odd, but she went on to behave more like a girlfriend than an ex, cooking at the house, doing laundry, curling up with Scooter to watch a movie and frequently spending the night. Scooter was an ex-marine who tended bar in a near-by watering hole. Once he offered to give me his old car battery that he was apparently keeping at his former apartment a short distance away. As we pulled up he advised me to stay in the car and not to be concerned if the neighbors were shouting at him when he came back out with the battery. I guess Scooter had made some enemies there. We had little in common (except for surfing, of course) and we got along well by having opposite schedules. Scooter eventually moved in with some of his friends elsewhere in Haolewood.

So it was on to roommate #2 who I will call Dan. To describe Dan as reclusive would be an understatement. When he first moved in he went in and out of his room through a separate entrance in the back of the house and did not enter the living room or kitchen. Eventually he started using the front door but still kept to himself, emerging only to do his laundry. Dan was a roofer. I asked him what he did when it rained (as it does year-round) and he told me they just keep working. “What about when it rains heavily?” I persisted. “We just keep working.” Was his only response. Dan didn’t surf. We got along well within the very limited context that we saw each other.

Dan had a little trouble with the law a few months after he moved in, some confusion about driving with a suspended license, I guess, and told me that he had decided to flee the state rather than appear in court.

So I made the acquaintance of Roommate # 3 who also happened to be named Scooter. The first Scooter had been a slob but the new Scooter spent the first few days of his tenancy THUROUGHLY cleaning the common areas of the house. I was a little concerned that he would expect me to match the cleanliness precedent he was setting. I knew I was not up to the task but I made an effort to be a little cleaner and accommodate his sometimes-quirky requests, such as switching from a glass to a plastic cutting board so the sound of my chopping cucumber while making my lunch in the morning would not wake him up.

The new Scooter drove a cab and spent a lot of time hanging around the house while on call. He did not keep to his room at all. He liked to watch television and movies in the living room and was quite catty compared with my previous roommates. He and I had almost completely opposite tastes in movies the only exception being “For the Love of the Game,” a documentary about a girl’s basketball team, which we both really liked. He had surfed “back in day” and was still interested in talking about it even though he no longer got on a board. He almost always asked me where I had surfed and what the conditions were like and occasionally gave me tips on good spots he had seen while driving his cab around the island. He was a sensitive and considerate roommate and we got along well.

While the roommates in the main house came and went, my “property-mate,” who I will call Chuck, lived quietly in a separate guest house in the back yard as he had for many years. The only problem with Chuck was that he didn’t always pay his rent, a quality that my landlady found frustrating. Chuck thought that the problems between them were more personal in nature. He claimed that they had once been a couple and her difficulties with him were baggage left over from their brake-up. He lost his job and fell further behind on the rent.

He finally got evicted but instead of leaving completely, he moved all his belongings into the garage and started living there. The garage had a partial bathroom, but no shower or kitchen. After a long struggle with my landlady, he got himself, his dog, his three cars and almost all of his stuff out.

In the meantime, I had begun to notice Dan around town. I would see him walking down the road with his hat pulled down low to cover his face. It seemed he was back and was looking for a place to live. I’m not sure what his legal situation was but he no longer had a car and he was excited about moving into the newly vacated guesthouse. It was an ideal arrangement for his dream of seclusion. He tore out the carpet (without asking for permission) and put in a new vinyl floor.

The neighbors complained that he played his music too loud and his reaction was to turn it up louder. When the Haolewood security forces started pounding on his door he turned off all the lights and pretended that he was not at home. They kept knocking for twenty minutes.

In the meantime, Scooter had announced his plans to move out. I prepared to meet roommate #4, but soon after Scooter left my landlady told me that they were ending their lease and if I wanted to continue to live there I would have to deal with the owners myself. I decided to look for a new place to live. There never was a roommate #4. For the last month it was just me in the house. Dan stayed in the Guesthouse and devoted himself to installing soundproof paneling. But soon he left, too. I only knew this because a carton of 11 eggs appeared in my refrigerator along with an assortment of frozen dinners in the freezer. I guess he had not wanted to throw the food away and figured I would eat it. I haven’t seen him since. I gave the eggs to Pussycat and ate the frozen dinners (which, happily, were vegetarian).

What I’ve learned from this experience is that I’m pretty good at getting along with a variety of different kinds of people. It’s a very useful skill!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Big Waves

Jay has a serious ding and can’t go in the water until it’s repaired. But that’s ok because the waves have been more Emile sized lately. Emile is my most challenging board to surf on. It paddles slower. It’s harder to catch a wave and it’s less stable once I’m standing on it. The conditions appropriate to surfing on Emile are also the most challenging conditions that I ever surf in. So I have the least confidence going into the most difficult waves.

The other day I surfed at Hideaways and spent the whole session waiting for one good wave, but when it came it made it all worthwhile. While Emile may be difficult to ride, it’s much faster and more responsive than any board I’ve ever ridden and when the right wave comes, I’m in the right place to catch it AND I execute it well, it’s an exhilarating experience. I had such an experience that evening.

Today I hoped for something similar as Cameron and I headed to Hideaways again. The waves were somewhat larger than before and we had difficulty paddling out. In fact paddling through the surf proved impossible even for Cameron who’s a much better surfer than I. I’m still working on my duck diving (passing under a wave with your board) but I kept at it as wave after wave of white water pushed me back and erased any forward progress I made. Finally the current carried us so far down the shore that we could paddle all the way around the braking waves and then make our way back to the spot we wanted to surf. I was so exhausted by the time I made it out that I decided if I got caught inside again I would not attempt to come back out.

I sat on my board catching my breath and watching some other surfers drop in on some waves I can only describe as huge. At this point I should point out that size is relative. I’m not surfing what people call “big waves.” I guess you could say they are just biggER than I usually surf. I bided my time until I was in position to paddle for a wave. When it came, I stood up and dropped in. I slid quickly to the bottom and with the top of the wave towering over my head and about to break, I thought to myself, “that’s a really big wave!” I also realized that my execution was less than perfect. It had not been a total disaster. I had successfully caught the wave, popped-up to my feet, dropped in and I was still standing. However, I had miscalculated my angle of take off so that I essentially went straight down instead of sideways along the face of the wave. I was at the bottom of the wave with no way to accelerate and continue my ride or even get out of the way of the crashing wave.

There was only one thing left to do. I turned toward shore in hopes of catching a ride on the whitewater inside where the wave’s power would be diminished and I could get out. A reasonable plan under the circumstances, unfortunately the force of the whitewater catching up to me knocked me off my board and down I went. I was held under for what seemed like a very long time but was probably only a few seconds. When I came up I realized I’d had enough and it was time to develop and exit strategy.

A strong current had carried me down the shore to a point where there were only cliffs and no way to climb out. To get back to the beach I would have to paddle up stream. I could have simply alowed the current to carry me to the next beach down but that would have meant a long walk back to my car with no shoes and I found that by paddling steadily against the current I could make slow but measurable progress. I eventually made it in, winded, but unharmed.

It was arguably the biggest wave I have ever caught and certainly the meanest. It was also probably the longest I have ever been held down. I was in over my head but on the whole I was pleased with how well I did.