Sunday, February 26th, I stood naked in a large dark hotel room, at the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort in Oahu. I’d just arrived on the island that morning, spent the day with a cousin and her husband who live in Honolulu, visited Kailua beach, then traveled across the island to check into my hotel as dark clouds began to downpour. The heavy rain was rare but welcome here. For me, it eased the transition from Portland winter to tropical island warmth.
I opened the sliding balcony shudders which spanned the length of my room, then the balcony doors. The comfortably humid air somehow explained my decision to disrobe. Behind me were two queen sized beds, an office desk, entertainment center, armchair, then spacious separate bathroom: altogether, larger than my studio apartment in Southeast Portland. I had arranged my few humble belongings and hung dress shirts on one side of the double closet to prepare myself for the week. Tomorrow would begin three days of business meetings, obligatory dinners, and late night schmoozing over cocktails.
My balcony overlooked the Pacific Ocean to the left, facing northwest. To the right, due north, I could hear but not see the theatrics of a luau through a thick of tress. Drums and a loudspeaker gave me the impression of a tourist trap where fat white people ate and drank to excess while they gawked at performers of mixed ethnicity mimicking traditions not necessarily their own.
From my sixth story room, I felt distant from the world below, new to me but less than exotic. After one becomes accustomed to travel, few sights and spectacles offer otherness, especially attractions groomed for tourists and business conferences. I heightened my appreciation for the moment by beholding my nakedness in a too large room, then gazing into the evening sky. The sun had set. Over ocean waves, I found Jupiter then Venus. Last night, the two aligned with Mercury (hidden below the horizon) and now waited to form a triangle with the crescent moon.
Just then, as if responding to the promise of planetary alignment, a tiny blue butterfly flit from the darkness beyond my balcony to float only a few feet in front of me. How and why had a butterfly flown to this height? It hung there, as if to catch my attention, then faltered to return to the ponds filled with black starfish below.
I obeyed what felt like a beckoning, put on clothes, and left my room to find my way to the resort grounds below. Disoriented at first, it took me a moment—passing an outdoor pool and restaurant patio—to find the landscaped pond I’d seen from above. I looked up to where I believed my room to be, then all around in search of a butterfly.