Sometimes it’s as if the stars align and the universe is physically propelling you in a direction or affirming you’re headed the right way already. Leading up to my trip, I would see Hawaii bumper stickers and “aloha” sentiments galore. My Lifeproof case once appeared to have an exact map of the Hawaiian islands plastered across the screen. It wasn’t just me who saw it either. I have witnesses.
In Hermosa Beach, California, where I spent the two weeks before my flight to Hawaii, I walked into a surf shop after a day of meandering—partly shopping and partly taking photos. The owner saw my camera and asked what I’d been shooting. Five minutes later and the next thing I know, he’s writing down his phone number and saying “I’m going to put you in contact with my friend who shoots surfing in Hawaii like three months out of the year. I’m sure he’d be happy to help you out and have some company on the drive to the North Shore.” I was a bit baffled that some random stranger who had never seen a single photo I’ve taken would be willing to help me, but nonetheless, I was downright ecstatic.
On the day I left for Hawaii, I called an Uber to take me to the airport from Hermosa. The new Uber pool option means you pay a lot less in exchange for sharing your ride, so in the interest of my quickly dwindling bank account, I did that. The car pulled up with an older couple already seated in the backseat. The driver loaded my suitcases and then I hopped in the front seat with a quick “hello” to everyone. The woman diagonal to me asked where I was headed. I told her Hawaii, and she excitedly told me that she was born and raised on Oahu. Crazy coincidence #1? Check. We started chatting about my trip and Hawaii in general. I offhandedly mentioned I had to fly up to Portland first to connect to my flight.
“Oh. What time is your flight?” she asked.
“You’re on the same flight as us!”
Crazy coincidence #2? Double check.
“Out of curiosity, what seats are you in?” I asked them.
“Row 24, I believe.”
“Wow! I’m in 23!”
Crazy coincidence #3? Check. Check. Check.
During the remainder of our car ride, Andy talked about the must see locations, and Rondi taught me various words in Pidgin. “I gotta go shishi” means “I gotta go pee,” by the way. While waiting at our gate, I asked what brought them to Los Angeles. The were visiting their daughter and young grandson in Redondo, which is just south of Hermosa. They don’t get to see them often because they spend summers at home in Portland then the rest of the year is spent traveling extensively. They help run a trekking service and website called iTrekNepal.com where they coordinate mountain hikes for adventurous travelers. In short, their life sounds incredible, and I’m a little jealous. After we landed in Portland, we hugged goodbye as if we hadn’t met just a few hours before.
I sat in the airport for a few hours considering my wealth of organic, free range, vegan, and gluten free food options. I hate choosing restaurants in normal circumstances, but this was a whole new level of struggle. I briefly considering getting something to eat at as many restaurants as I could before my flight at 7:00 pm. I decided my bank account probably wouldn’t appreciate that though, so I had a personal pan pizza with an obscene amount of toppings all for exactly $4.47. Did you know they don’t have tax in Oregon? Did you also know that they have no respect for even numbers? I would have gladly paid those three extra cents just to make the number more visually pleasing, but I’m not complaining because that was one yummy pizza.
We started boarding at 6:20, and I sat down in my window seat trying frantically to publish my previous blog post before my iPad had to go on airplane mode. Procrastination at its finest. Then as we pulled away from the gate, I pulled out my Nikon D800 and a 50 mm prime lens to photograph our departure from the mainland. The woman in my row (we were on either side of an empty middle seat) never said a word about it, but I saw her observing me. Then after a quick potty break, she mentions that my camera looked like a professional kit. I told her that it was indeed and that I’m a photojournalist.
Well guess what. She works in public relations. Which means she works with a lot of journalists. She offered me her card, and then we started talking about my trip and plans for it. Within five minutes of officially meeting her, she told me that if I get in a bind to call her and, worst come to worst, I could sleep in her spare room for a bit. Then once I was finally on the ground and retrieving my luggage, she came running back inside to ask if I needed a ride. That was one of the rare occasions where I had actually planned ahead though, so I did in fact have a shuttle waiting on me. But to see someone who didn’t know me at all offering to help me was such a refreshing way to start my journey. It warmed my heart.
I mean it’s just amazing to me. Have you ever heard of a god wink? Basically, it’s a sign from God to show he’s listening and cares about you. When not one but three strangers offer to help you within minutes of meeting you and all are within the span of a week, that’s more than a God wink. That’s a God billboard.