When I was a little girl and our family would take a vacation, I loved shopping for souvenirs – small trinkets that I could take home to remind me of the experience. Some years, I bought pressed pennies that had a city skyline imprinted on them, other years I gravitated to the snow globes. Something about shaking a plastic visual of where we had been and seeing it erupt with white flakes of fake snow excited me. And if we were near the beach, I would always buy an assortment of shells. These souvenirs were treasured pieces from an exciting adventure that I could take home as a reminder of the time we shared together as a family.
Two days ago was my birthday. As I approach an uncomfortably old age, I’m realizing while gifts and souvenirs are thoughtful and enjoyed, they pale in comparison to the opportunity of sharing an actual experience with those you love.
The real souvenirs – the priceless treasures from the journey – are the memories, the mental pictures that we snap along the way, tuck into our heart and carry with us forever.
With that said, my birthday was a couple of days ago and the local news reported a high probability of running The Eddie. The Eddie is a prestigious big wave invitational surf event to honor Eddie Aikau, one of Hawaii’s greatest and most respected watermen. It’s a competition requiring waves of a minimum 40’ and perfect surf conditions that are so rare the event has only been held eight times in the last 31 years. You can read more about The Eddie here and here and here.
My daughter’s teacher (aware of the potential of The Eddie the following day and also aware of our tendency to not show up to school when the waves are big) suggested that she give Jessie her homework ahead of time. Smart thinking.
Apparently, we have a reputation.
So when my husband asked me how I would like to celebrate my birthday, it was a no-brainer. At 5pm, we packed up the car, ate dinner as a family and headed to the North Shore to sleep in our car…again to find parking and secure a vantage point on the beach.
Allow me to share some of my souvenirs from the day with you. No trinkets or t-shirts, just lots of good memories that can’t be captured very well with my iPhone, but I’ll try.
- Our 10pm trip to Longs for massive amounts of junk food.
- The sweet people at the Catholic church who let us sleep in their parking lot.
- Attempting to sleep in the car while listening to my kids argue over the sliver of space allotted to them.
Experiencing the beautiful Waimea sunrise and the cold, salty beach air accompanied by my lukewarm coffee.
Joining with thousands of people to watch elite surfers take on massive waves in honor of a life well-lived, given in sacrifice to others.
Witnessing 66-year old, Clyde Aikau, compete one last time in honor of his brother.
These are my souvenirs. Thanks for letting me share them with you. Oh yeah, and the surfing was amazing.