No Return Policy

It’s the last 12 hours in a small suburban town I call home and it still doesn’t hit me that I’m leaving it. After long anxious months of waiting for this time to come, I don’t realize the impact of how far I am going from what is familiar. Seeing faces that you grow accustom to and knowing that you will soon enough won’t see them till the winter months sounds all but nerve wracking to me at the moment.

I guess I just adapted to situations like these, where it comes to the point of numbness that you get too wound up and lost in the moment.

That’s it.

I don’t really feel anything at all actually. My stomach doesn’t drop nor a pulse of anxiousness runs through my body.

As weird as that may sound, I liked the idea of where I was going. Finally, a place where I can get lost and be free. With nothing to worry about, the possibilities look endless and all I see in front of me is pure freedom.

From jumping off cliffs, diving, surfing, and all things daring; who would’ve thought that I would be spending my 4 years of college on an island?

With that all in mind, I take a step back and slowly begin to feel my heart pound… It is this very moment that I think to myself for the first time, that there is no turning back. I’m not going to see the people who have been beside me and pushed me to what I’ve grown up to be.

They won’t be there to jump off with me, delve into new experiences, ride through the roughest waves nor dare me to be at my best. Instead, I’ll be on my own for these next 4 years. I’ll be making my own way through this new life without what I’m comfortable with.

As usual, my basement is filled up with people of good sprits, who are more than likely are always up for a time well spent. Being the first one to leave, and the farthest, I feel obligated to share proper farewells during my last night. So I shoot out a final text inviting people over to share one more laugh, hug, handshake, and memory.

Collection of memories and time spent together are what we all took away from our high school experiences, as a group of friends heading in different directions.

Recognizing smiles as they gather around to common ground one last time felt great. Leaving and going on to foreign grounds is something that will take time but through adaptive instinct, I feel as if there won’t be much to worry about. Yes, I miss home terribly but this college experience that I am about to endure is something I wanted.

Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is what I feel is the best for me. As I strapped on the safety belt on and watched the east coast slowly disappear underneath clouds, I know I made the right decision by taking on the challenge of a great distance.

I made my way and this is just the beginning of a new adventure.

-Gabe Estevez


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Walk Bus or hitchhike

Living in Hawaii there are endless possibilities of what to do, and all of them are no more than an hour drive away. Unfortunately not very many of my friends had their cars shipped over from the mainland or have their own cars here. So most of the time we are stuck walking, hitchhiking or taking the bus. I would complain but we are in college and that’s just what you do. Taking the bus is a new experience with every ride. You could get yelled at by a homeless man, or make a new friend who lives on the floor above you. The bus goes everywhere on the island, but doesn’t run 24/7. I learned that the hard way.

One day a few of my friends and I went to a party at the beach. We were all having a good time until we lost track of time and each other. Some people went back early others caught a ride with some new friends. I ended up on the beach knowing only one person who was just as new to Hawaii as me. We tried to find a ride back to campus, but we were unable. Which was a long 10 miles away. Unable to find a ride we scour our smartphones for a bus route to take us back. The only bus stop anywhere near us was 4 miles away. The next best option was to hitchhike. I had never hitchhiked before so I was a little nervous about the idea of jumping into some strangers car. I calculated the risk and would much rather get kidnapped or mugged or something then walk 4 miles at 10 o’clock at night. Walking down the street with our thumbs out many cars dove past us probably laughing at the two haoles walking down the street. It took about 30 minutes for somebody to pick us up. The man who picked us up was such a good person. He let us hop in the bed of his truck and drove us to the closest bus stop. The amount of aloha that he showed us was truly amazing.

When I first was telling people about moving to Hawaii they all told me to watch out for the locals. They said I was going to get my butt kicked when ever I went surfing. I told them they were crazy and all I had to do was be respectful and spread the aloha and it would come back around.  It definitely did, and It really made feel welcome to my new home.

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Noisy streets, bright lights, long nights.

Hawai’i – My expectations were set high. I had an image of a stereotypical island lifestyle. Not the ordinary one that anyone else would of have though, for I have been to Maui before so I understood that it wasn’t all coconut cups and shacks and grass skirts. I had an image of a suburb with a college close to a beach. Not many tourists, and easy going. What I got though was a city. Noisy streets, bright lights, long nights.

 The Image of the secluded peaceful side of Hawaii was nowhere to be found. The beaches were crowded and the water was murky with thousands upon thousands of gallons of sunscreen diluted in. Just to find a spot to lie down on the beach and let your mind run free, you have to fight with the overweight speedo wearing Germans, the redneck mainlanders, and the ever entertaining Japanese tourists.

Walking the streets is like walking through a minefield, trying to navigate without crashing. As the shopping tourists look at you and your board as if you two are foreign to Waikiki.

The First couple weeks here I complained.  I longed for the golden beaches of California, where the only tourists we get are just from an hour inland. I missed being able to walk down the beach a bit and find a spot with no one close to you each side. I missed the water…Wait…defiantly not…

All it took though was a sunset session at Waikiki. When all the tourists go in, the atmosphere of Waikiki changed. It was as if the tourists knew- it was the local time.

I saw a different side of Honolulu that night. The city was still there, but it wasn’t. The rush was gone. Taxis and cars still zoomed by but not as much.  The Beach was empty other than a few fast asleep lobster red tourists and the surfers resting from a long sunset session.

It was then that I realized, the true Hawai’i was sitting within the tourist Hawai’i, and you just had to look within the city to find it. Past the noisy streets, bright lights, long nights, sat the coconut nut cup, shacks, and grass skirts Hawai’I. I began to explore more…


-Joseph BanksImage