Inevitable Things

Original artwork by Lauren Vierra titled “Seasons” 2021.

Have you ever stopped for a second to really analyze the entirety of your world? Looked truly at the people around you– the family, the friends– the interactions that seemed a staple of your world. In the absence of normality, everything that was present and fact just slid off the table; the “summer” of 2020 was peculiar like that. 

Like many people, 2020 has opened my eyes.

During the COVID-times– I learned a lot about myself and the universe I orbit in. I sewed masks for hospitals, learned how to surf, motocross, fix parts of a car, learn to landslide, and take care of children; I was supremely productive for a moment, and then aimless the next. 

I realize I never chose to do any of these things– never out of my own agency, that I always went along with the flow. Drifting along with the wind, with the movement of friends and family. I realized in the down-time and late, hazy nights, I don’t think I know myself at all, and that without people bringing me along, I donʻt do much of anything at all. 

And I wonder how everyone can and canʻt relate. As a teen, is it odd to have such freedom and powerlessness in one?

I know some things; that I appreciate the small things in life, love the ocean, and could spend a lifetime seeking knowledge and adventure. I am the most selfless and selfish person I know. I do know that in the events of my life, I’ve spent years adapting and changing to my surroundings, just to make life easier, and now I’m left with sinking feelings and a hole where the “real me” is.

I know Iʻm not alone in this aspect, most teens realize this too. I refused to be complacent though, I tried things out, to grow, and try to bloom.

I read some existentialism: Viktor Franklʻs, “Man’s Search for Meaning” hit differently. 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Vierra 2020.

I tried changing my mindset, tried to be more mature, to be more comfortable with change. I drifted into the night to reflect on everything– slept outside in the damp grass with my dog, pondering the state of the world and the tiny, insignificant niche I inhabit.

I wandered through a stream up in Manoa that my older cousins and I used to frequent half a lifetime ago. It felt different and bitter, all those cousins have children now, moved on in their lives. They all went back to their fancy colleges by now, and sometimes I forget myself.

I hiked briefly, down a barely-beaten track up in Saint Louis heights. I chased chickens and wove through trees. Once upon a time my family put up hammocks between those trees and ate salty fries from Saint Louis Drive-in. 

I passed my old middle school on the way to Sandy beach; has it really been almost three years?

We drove through an empty Waikiki, my mother, and I. We passed a familiar hotel my hula halau used to perform at. I feel wistful and lost. The glittering lights don’t shine like they used to and thereʻs no crowds or familiar echo of Hawaiian-style music bands. 

Time is not your friend and it is selfish to want the world to stop for you. I try not to take it personally.

I hunt after crabs into the night on the shoreline; my dog, flashlight, and plastic pail to keep my company. I lie upside-down on a leather sofa with my older brother as he screams at a Roku TV. He loses his Gulag in “Call of Duty.” 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Vierra 2020.

I stare out the window into a hazy-pink, polluted sunset. 

I feel like a sunset. I’ve barely started life, tasted nothing of freedom and autonomy, and I feel so old and defeated already. But thereʻs beauty in the sunset, and consequently in my life. Perhaps romanticizing the little things will be the grease in the machine. 

I flip through old, outdated books in my late grandparents’ house in Kaneohe. I tentatively wander through the dusty rooms. They’re both gone now, the sound of wheezing laughter, sharp humor, no more. I remember my grandfather in his hospice room, tired after fighting cancer for years. He looked different in pictures, holding his conquests of ulua, or perched mid-air off a waterfall, strong, tall, and gleaming with pride. He holds a baby me in a picture, and I realize itʻs been nine years since I saw him last.

My grandmother lived years after his passing, and I think she counted every morning he was gone. In her will, the morning she passed, the family would play poker. She loved Las Vegas. My nephew won. It was masterful, only 14, beating my uncles, aunties, and cousins. She would’ve been proud. That house doesn’t feel the same now that they’re both gone.

The house in Kaneohe had a koi pond in the back. I fed the koi pellets when I was small, with the yapping of small dogs on my heels, begging for food. On the side of the house, there were two hunting dogs and there was the orange swing. 

I don’t think I missed the late-night rides home so much as I do now. The house sits quietly as if itʻs awaiting the arrival of people whoʻve made a final departure.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Vierra 2020.

During the times when no one was with me– like my parents, who are both essential workers, who work long hours, I sit in a quiet, empty house. Or down by the beach and crashing waves, below the aged, creaking estate my grandfather bought in the 50’s down in North Shore — where the only person in the cool night is me and the crabs. I eat alone, leftovers of pad thai, cup noodle ramen, half-melted smoothies, in which recipes I took off Pinterest.

As I perch up high in the tangerine tree from my childhood, I breeze in the cool, sweet air. I think and my mind wanders far from the tangy embrace. I think maybe I never knew the “real me” because I always lived life by the expectations of myself and my family. 

I think sadness and loneliness creep into the cracks of people if the house [the person] is distant and shut-in. 

I don’t wanna live like this any longer; but perhaps instead of waiting for some bitter end, goals could help fix whatever I am. I realize I want adventure, I want to look off a cliff into the unknown, take a deep breath, and take the plunge. I want love, perhaps not the love of a boyfriend or girlfriend, but with a love that defies such a simple label. 

Iʻm going to create a path towards something like that, I donʻt want to ever stay stagnant as I am now ever again. 

I realize we really do have to treasure the things we had, that everything you know could just disappear one day. Itʻs okay if it does, nothing can truly last or stay the same– change is inevitable– but change can be beautiful. 

Embrace it and it will do the same. Donʻt cling to something meant to change.