My first trip to the Islands was back in 1992. It was to the Big Island. One of my most vivid memories of that trip was the perfumed air.
It wasn’t the smell of that so-called “fresh scent” that humans have tried to make out of synthetic or petroleum based products that cling to your clothes and your nostrils like a parasite. No, this was a natural scent, the air was naturally sweet, with the floral scent of plumeria. It was a treat to this city-girl’s senses. Growing up in Chicago, there was no fresh floral scent in the air, anywhere.
Subsequent trips to the islands never matched that first time. Not until now. The other morning while walking to the beach for my morning walk, I felt it. I felt a tug at my heart, a sense of pure joy at being surrounded by the scent of plumeria trees. I almost felt like that twenty-one year old woman, who was living her dream of visiting Hawaii, of working with a marine biologist, hoping to become one. My world was wide open back then, and plumerias remind me of that innocent time of my life. A time when I was transitioning my life from student to adult, from Chicago to San Francisco.
Last week, when I couldn’t sit at my desk any longer, I went for a walk. Outside of the building I work, there is a small residential area. The buildings architecture are old Hawaiian plantation style. Large plants and trees surround them.
To my delight, some of the large trees were plumeria trees. The largest plumeria trees I have ever seen. There was one with skinny, pink petals, and another with the more common white petals with a yellow center. I picked up some of the nicer blooms that had fallen with the breeze.
I bring the flowers inside and place them on my desk. A temporary embellishment, that reminds me of the dreams of my twenty-one year old self.