The first time I went to Hawaii, I was 4. When my parents told me we were going, I started crying. I wailed, 'I'm not going! I don't want to die’. I locked myself in my bedroom in protest.

I. Was. Not. Going.

We'd been watching nature TV (whatever the 1987 version was), and I saw a feature on Hawaii's volcanoes. As I understood it, Hawaii was covered in fiery death mountains, and anyone who went there was sure to burn alive.

My young attempts at autonomy were (luckily) foiled, and I was gifted with the most vivid memories of my childhood.

I remember feeling tropical air kiss my skin for the first time as I breached the airplane's exit. At the end of the mobile stairway, there was a line of locals there. They placed an orchid and plumeria lei around my neck. I'd never smelled flowers so sweet. Within the first 60 seconds, I was transformed.

Mom bought me a hula skirt with a red floral bikini top. I wore it over my tighty whities every minute of our visit. Droves of strangers complimented me. People loved the uninhibited costume and panty-rocking, I suppose.

I snorkeled for the first time in Hanauma Bay, saw Polynesian fire dance at a Luau, and wove palm fronds. I learned new words: 'mahalo', 'mahi-mahi', 'kahuna'. I learned about why Pele would not approve of me taking home a rock. It was delightfully different than Charlottesville, Virginia, where we lived at the time.

We even flew right over a spewing, glowing volcano in a helicopter. The extreme heat cooked my feet, but it didn't bother me at all when I was there.

The memories lack-chronology but there are full of color and sensation.

Coming back 31 years later has been very impactful.

This time we met many generous new friends.

We stayed on the lava fields and woke up to this:

Made this:

Photo Nov 12, 9 53 13 PM.jpg

(We took many other pics, but they haven't been finished yet.)

The pole studios were all a total joy. Hawaii loves to dance, and they do so playfully. We love you PoleHI, Polearity, and Fit For A Goddess!

Learned that my skin is perfectly sticky no warm-up required here.

I attended the Hawaii Zouk Festival and saw this live. Evelyn and her incredible swirling is the reason I started zouk. In case you don't know, this is entirely improvised, and her husband, the lead cues her movements.

We’ve enjoyed our time so much that Ken and I are plotting how to spend a lot more time here in years to come.

Who would travel to Hawaii for some intensive training camps?