Sidewalk Ghosts / She Saved Me

My feet were barking! My discouragement growing as, late in the evening, foot traffic thinning, I wondered, “is this the night that I fail in my mission to meet a new friend?”


After the experiences of the week, and post how it played out in meeting Nathan, it would have been wise to had taken another journey away from Hawaiian Village. But I leaned on the not so intelligent side of my brain and decided to cruise the hotel grounds once again–a mostly terrible idea that set me up for a lot of fatigue and frustration.

For three hours I walked the hotel grounds and after approaching more than I could count, I had not met a soul. I even chose my wardrobe carefully as to not again look like a hotel employee (for those of you who have not read Was It My Turn To Be Profiled, here’s a link to the story). Vacation culture was indeed very interesting to study that night. So many people from all corners of the globe, all of whom were not wanting to be approached, some even seeming to hide behind a facade, obviously avoiding notice as they played an away from home fantasy.

My feet were barking! My discouragement growing as, late in the evening, foot traffic thinning, I wondered, “is this the night that I fail in my mission to meet a new friend?”

With feelings of defeat brewing in my heart, I reluctantly set path towards my room as I mentally composed an apologetic entry for failure on day 29. My enthusiasm diminished, a mixture of embarrassment and relief percolated in my head as I visualized the words of what that tribute might say.

I turned down the final walkway, elevators within sight, no one in view; that was except for one figure moving on the horizon, a long girl packing up a clothing stand. Interestingly, there was something about her that drew my attention, even a spirit if you will; and the closer I got to her the more I began to recall the lesson I had learned the evening before. An acceptance put forth to me by the example of Nathan, that special glow that I was starting to recognize as Aloha”.  Plus, as I figured, it was my last chance to meet someone. So I rolled the dice, “hi my name is Richard, I’m on day…”(for the full line, see “The Earth Feel Between My Fingers and I Knew…”).

With a bit of curiosity she took the time to look at several back stories I shared on my iPad, but after scrolling past a few, she expressed interest in the project, but stood very reserved about being photographed.

OK, I was not going to beg, but I was desperate for an interview, so I lost it a little. Let my walls down as full as I could, humbled myself in bleeding a tear or two (not sobbing or anything like that, just a couple of those little droplets that stay in the corner of your eye). I couldn’t help it, they just came out as I described the three hours of wandering, my intent and the many rejections I had been subject to.


She smiled with a touch of embarrassment, and in a most beautiful and delicate way, she volunteered to be part of the project. Please say hello to Irina, a true lover of life, and bigger yet, co-human.

It was close to 10pm, and after locking up her kiosk, we sat for a most pleasant conversation.

Born in Russia, Irina spoke with a clear and passionate dialect. Radiance would be an understatement in describing her, for being in her presence it was impossible to not feel a certain comfort that came from speaking with her. A feeling that I recognized was emanating from the majority those living on the island, and the more I dialed into it, and looked away from the tourist, or visitor viewpoint, the warmer it got. I was hooked, infected in a way with a voice that was invisible and silent, but in it a message rang loud and clear, that was if I listened to it.

As we chatted, my regret for staying on the hotel grounds quickly turned to gratitude. Irina’s peace and spirit was captivating. It had been a long day and in no lesser description, Irina had saved me. Rejuvenated me at a time when I was at risk of ceasing a project that ultimately touched many, and now with Sidewalk Ghosts, I hope will continue to make a positive dent in the way we view are treat one another.

We small talked for a while, but by the looks in our eyes I could tell we were both fighting to keep focus. I asked Irina if she would share her wisdom with the world.

With warmth, laughter and youthful insight:

“Don’t look back, always look forward.”

“Enjoy the process, not the result.”

 “Dreams do come true in Hawaii!”

Irina, if you are reading this, Thanks for saving me!

Mahalo Nui Loa

Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.

To all: please comment, like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.