Talk Story

What better way to spend a long weekend than splashing with little boys on a gentle beach, hiking in a tropical forest and talking story with an old friend?  

Talk story, or mo'olelo in Hawaiian, is the important oral tradition of personally sharing stories to preserve them for future generations.  The Hawaiian language was long an oral language until the missionaries devised a written alphabet in order to translate the bible, thus chanting legends, telling stories of historical events and passing down family memories has been and continues to be essential to the culture.  But talk story is also the casual term for chtting or shooting the breeze exactly what friends do when catching up on holiday.

We are spending a few weeks in the tiny little town of Haiku on the north shore of Maui and my old friend Taryn came to visit with her husband Krishna and their two boys Sage (5) and Summit (3).  They live in the beach town of Kailua on Oahu and happily island-hopped over to play with us.  It has been two years since Taryn and I saw each other when I was pregnant with Xavier, so I was very excited to introduce them to each other.  While she and I picked right up where we'd left off, as good friends do, I got to thinking about the story of our friendship and our shared history. Sometimes you get to toast a friend at her birthday or wedding or funeral, but how often really do we get to pay tribute?  Not often enough...

Taryn and I met during the first days of our freshman year at Boston College. We moved into dorm rooms across the hall from each other on the third floor of Gonzaga Hall.  I had flown out from South Dakota and Taryn's mother Gail had traveled with her from Hawaii.  Taryn made a strong first impression on me and having made a mental note to myself to hang out with her, I called out "Hi Taryn" when I later saw the two of them walking across campus.  Her mother predicted, "You two are going to be friends."  And fast friends we became.  

Taryn had then, and has since retained and refined, a beautiful free spirit paired with a lively intelligence plus the ability to focus.  She seemed so confident and at ease in her skin, a rare trait for a college freshman.  And she was open-minded, spontaneous and fun - that kind of zest for life is infectious.  She and I would plan adventures around Boston and wonder why so many of our classmates rarely left our suburban campus.  We explored Walden Pond in glorious autumn colors, we cheered at the Bean Cup Hockey match, participated in the revelry of St. Patrick's day in an Irish-loving town, discussed crushes on boys, studied side by side, and spent hours in deep discussion about our futures.  Gail sent care packages full of Kona coffee and treats from the islands and we would sit up late whispering in her dorm room drinking coffee stifling laughter, trading secrets and hatching big plans.

Partially due to the expensive tuition, I transferred out of Boston College halfway through my sophomore year to go to the University of Montana.  I hated to leave Taryn, but we knew we'd stay close.  She came out to visit me in Missoula that spring break and I went back to visit her in Boston senior year.  After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in Niger.  Meanwhile, I traveled around Europe and then moved to San Francisco. All the while we wrote long handwritten letters back and forth.  She moved back to Hawaii and entered graduate school and came to visit me in California.  And I jumped at the chance to visit her in Hawaii a few times.

Back in Kailua, she met Krishna after he'd returned home from living abroad in Tahiti and Portugal.  Krishna knew he wanted to marry Taryn the first time he saw her and he pursued her hard. In six months they were living together and soon they were planning a wedding.  I came over for the celebration on Lanikai Beach and it was a beautiful union to witness.  After I met Christian they both came to play with us in Vancouver and now our husbands are friends too. Fast forward and Taryn and Krishna have two sweet little boys, Sage (5) and Summit (3).  I got to meet her boys two years ago when Christian and I came out to Hawaii when I was 7 months pregnant with Xavier and they were happy to give us the lowdown on parenting, or what Krishna calls "the beautiful carnage."  Christian and I were taking notes on their family freestyle and I particularly wanted to model Taryn's "long leash" attitude for raising her sons.  We stayed in Gail's house down the street so we'd stroll over for BBQ's or meet them at the beach after work.  We loved feeling like locals and adapted quickly to island life.  In-between being a rad mom, surfing and paddling outrigger canoes between islands, Taryn heads up outreach for homeless veterans in Oahu.

These days, Taryn is just as cool and just as fun as she was the day I met her.  This trip, on short hikes with our little boys she would veer off into the trees to glean a tee shirt full of ripe passion  fruits.  Per local custom, her boys call me Auntie and Christian Uncle.  Sage and Summit taught Xavier how to give knuckles and make sand castles. We all grilled fish tacos, swam at reef-sheltered Baby Beach and teased our spouses. We caught up on each other's families, mutual friends and big life plans.  Just living aloha and talking story...

Cheers to friendship!

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