I turned off my phone last night. Gary and I stayed in, just like he talked about. We kept the curtains drawn and ordered in some Musubi (I actually liked the Spam and couldn’t believe it.) We just chilled out. But something is off. My feelings about Gary are worrying me. It’s like he’s not my Gary anymore.
I can’t believe I’m functioning with him in a normal way after what he revealed to me yesterday. I’m seeing him through different eyes. I physically see my uncle Gary I’ve known my whole life, but I also see something under the surface that I can’t quite grab onto or understand. It feels dark and I don’t like it at all. I don’t want to see him this way. I want to feel the same way I’ve always felt about him. But I can’t. In fact, I feel scared of him.
It’s not like I think he would ever hurt me. It’s not about that. It’s that he seems unpredictable or something. I thought I knew everything about him. I thought he was this awesome guy who told dad jokes and had too many girlfriends, but I feel like (and I hate even saying this word) that he might be a parasite. I can’t believe I said it. I feel like I’m going to hell now.
Gary’s always taken care of me. Selflessly taken care of me. Done the best he can to make my life normal. And now I am thinking of him as a parasite? It’s not right, but I can’t help the way I feel. The thoughts keep coming.
Thoughts that tell me he’s an animal that prays on other animals but doesn’t have the decency to kill them. Just injures them and then leaves them to die a long, painful death.
Wait. Where did that come from? He didn’t say anything like that. He said it’s an “even exchange” when he’s with women, but I guess I don’t believe him. I don’t even want to think about this anymore. I don’t want to act weird in front of Kala and his family tonight.
Oh yes, that’s right! We are seeing Kala and his family tonight. I’m excited and nervous. Excited to see Kala, but nervous that his family thinks I am a complete weirdo. After the whole crying episode on the beach yesterday, I wouldn’t blame them. I don’t know what I would think if I was them, but I probably wouldn’t want my son or brother to be around someone who behaved in such a strange way.
Kala tried calling and texting me last night when my phone was off. It was a great surprise to wake up to. I was feeling really insecure that I hadn’t heard from him. By the end of the night, I started to convince myself that it was over between us. That I was too much, too fast, and that the incident with his mom and sister pushed him over the edge.
Then I got his messages this morning and all that doubt went away. This is another reason I hate dating. You get all excited about someone and then when they don’t do exactly what you want them to do, you start to think they aren’t into you. Then you pull back, and it becomes a cycle of weird emotional dishonesty.
I’ve watched Johanna go through this over and over. I’ve held myself above it; like I’d never be that way when I really liked someone. But, welcome to me and dating. I am apparently a disaster like everyone else.
Surprisingly, Gary seems pretty excited to meet Kala’s family. They’re bringing some of our Kinimaka cousins, too. I thought that would make Gary nervous since they disowned my grandpa, Alika. Well, the cousins didn’t disown him, but his own parents did. There has to be some echo of that feeling throughout the family.
But Gary is unconcerned. Which is actually how Gary usually is about everything. So it is normal. But then not normal, because I know he’s in such a great mood or space because of the neighbor, Janice. Gross. I’m pushing those thoughts somewhere else. Thinking of Gary getting “cleansed” by a woman has moved into disturbing territory in my head. No thanks.
Anyway, I talked to Johanna this morning, too. It felt like forever since we’ve talked. And it’s been forever since I’ve seen her in person. I miss her so much. I’m going back and forth about whether I will tell her this Gary stuff. I probably shouldn’t. It feels like a private family thing that I should keep to myself. And there’s also the fact that she has a thing for him.
Nothing is really new back home. She had some Kava Kava gossip about our bosses. Some new barista got fired. Ordinarily, I would be down for the tea but I just don’t care. I’m too worried about everything going on here to care about little things back home. I do miss Johanna, though. It will feel good to be with her in person when I get home. I need to tell her everything that’s happened. Well, maybe not everything with Gary, but most of it.
We’re supposed to go to Kala’s parent’s house tonight for a traditional Hawaiian barbecue. I already wore my new yellow dress in front of them, and I feel like I need something different to wear. The black jeans and black t-shirts just don’t say “I’m excited to meet your family.”
I’m not really up for shopping again, though. I decided to call the nice lady at Sway Hanalei and ask her to pick something out for me. I have a feeling she’ll do a great job, and she already knows my size and everything. Gary said he’d stop by the shop and pick up whatever she picks out.
Kala and I never actually talked on the phone when we made our plans. I texted him back once I got his messages and it was like him and his mom already planned everything for tonight. He asked Gary and I to come to their house around 6 pm.
I decided I didn’t want to ask anything about the incident with his mom and sister on the beach. I am assuming they told him what happened but I can’t go there right now; especially over the phone. I actually don’t want to talk to him about it in person either, but that seems like the better option.
Shoot, my phone is ringing. I hate when my phone rings.
Oh, it’s Gary.
“Hey Gary,” I say.
“Hey, little girl,” he says happily.
“I’m here at the dress shop with Alaina,” he says.
He emphasizes her name, Alaina, in a way that means he’s flirting with her. I think I hear her giggle in the background. Oh brother. Maybe sending him there wasn’t the best idea.
“Yes, Gary?” I ask.
I’m trying to be nice.
“Alaina says she has two options,” Gary says.
He sweetly emphasized her name again. Oh, Gary.
“Yeah?” I say.
“One is a long purple dress and the other is a, hold on, what’s that color, Alaina?” He says.
“She says it’s salmon, a salmon tank top and a jean skirt,” he says. “I guess it’s whatever you’re in the mood for.”
I have no idea what to pick. This isn’t my strong suit.
“Gary, I don’t know,” I say. “What does Alaina think?”
“Alaina,” he says teasingly. “She has no idea. Why don’t you pick?”
I can hear Alaina giggle in the background again. I wonder if Gary feels a “connection” with her? I hope he doesn’t. I really like her and I don’t want him messing with her.
I hear a woman’s muffled voice in the background, but can’t make out what she’s saying.
“She says the jean skirt option would look great with your tan and hair,” Gary says. “She says the other option is more traditional, but that you’re young and should do the cute, casual option.”
I think it over for a few seconds. I trust Alaina. I have no idea what to pick. I’m not sure I’ve ever owned a jean skirt, but I’m in the mood for trying new things. Let’s go with the jean skirt.
“I agree, Gary,” I say. “Get the jean skirt option. What about shoes?”
“Alaina, shoes?” He asks, speaking away from the phone.
More muffled voice in the background.
“She picked some Vans with a Hawaiian print,” he says.
“She’ll love that,” he says to Alaina without letting me respond.
He’s right, though. I do love that.
“Yeah, that’s good, Gary,” I respond, even though he already decided for me.
“I’ll be back in a bit, little girl,” Gary says.
“Gary,” I say quickly before he can end the call.
“Don’t be long, OK?” I ask. “I want to get dressed and ready early.”
That’s not exactly true, but I don’t want him hanging out with Alaina.
“I’m on my way back in a few,” he says reassuringly.
“OK, thanks, Gary,” I say.
I feel relieved.
“Tell Alaina I say thank you,” I say.
“She says ‘thank you’ Alaina,” Gary says.
Her muffled voice sounds excited for a few seconds.
“OK, bye little girl,” Gary says and hangs up.
I suddenly feel jittery – even nervous. But why?
I didn’t feel nervous before Gary called. Is it the thought of him being near Alaina? She was so kind to me when I met her in her store. She comforted me when I was down.
I don’t want to get involved with Gary’s stuff with women, though. Do I?
No, I don’t. I’m still confused about what he told me. I really don’t want to think about this stuff.
I sit quietly staring at the bumpy off-white wall of the motel room for a couple of minutes. I pick up my phone and google “Sway Hanalei.” The phone number pops up in the first search result and I tap it and wait for the phone to start ringing.
A voice answers at the other end, “Sway Hanalei.”
I start speaking without a plan and without thinking. I feel nervous but also certain I am doing the right thing.”
“Can I speak with Alaina?” I ask.
“This is her,” she says. “How can I help you?”
“Hi Alaina,” I say. “This is Josie Kinimaka. I just wanted to call and personally thank you for picking out the outfit for me and getting it to my uncle. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”
“Oh, Josie,” Alaina says sincerely. “I was so glad to hear from you and loved picking out some options for you. I don’t get to do that very often. Most people come in and want to pick out everything themselves. And it was wonderful to meet your uncle.”
I heard a sparkle in her voice when she said “your uncle.”
“Oh it was?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says. “He’s a very special person, just like you. I am not surprised a bit that he is your uncle.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says. “I can tell you’re from a special family, a family I recognize from here on the island. Meeting you both has brought me great comfort.”
“It has?” I ask.
I don’t understand what she’s getting at, but this wasn’t the purpose of my phone call.
“That’s nice of you to say,” I tell her. “I called not just to thank you, but to also warn you.”
“Warn me?” She asks with surprise.
“Yes,” I say. “About my uncle.”
I’m confident that what I’m telling her is important and necessary. I hear silence on the other end.
“I’m sure you liked by my uncle,” I say. “Most women do. A lot of women do, if you know what I mean.”
“You were so nice to me, I feel like I need to warn you that my uncle Gary isn’t as interested in you as he seems,” I say. “He likes to have a good time with women for a short time and then move on.”
Still nothing on the other end.
“Hello?” I say. “Are you still there?”
“Yes, Josie,” Alaina says. “I’m here.”
“Do you understand what I’m saying?” I ask her. “I just don’t want you to think my uncle wants anything serious if he showed interest in you, which I am sure he did.”
“Josie,” she says. “I don’t know what to say. This is embarrassing for me. Your uncle was very nice and is an attractive man, but I know you both live on the mainland. I would never think of connecting with a stranger either. It’s not in my nature.”
“Oh,” I say. “I’m not saying you would. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that. Shoot. I think I messed this up. I just wanted to warn you.”
“Is your uncle dangerous?” She asks.
“Well, no,” I say. “He’s a good man. He’s raised me as his daughter. He just has a tendency to use women.”
“I understand,” she says. “Do you mind if I give you some advice?”
“Sure,” I say with some hesitation.
“Don’t disparage your family to people you don’t know,” she says. “It exposes more about you than it does about them. I don’t mean to hurt you, but I understand who and what your uncle Gary is, and I’m pretty certain he doesn’t deserve this.”
Oh no. What have I done? Panic washes over me starting at pinpricks in my head, then poisoning my stomach, and tingling my toes.
“Oh you’re right,” I say quickly. “I’m sorry. You were so nice to me. I didn’t want you to get hurt. Please don’t mention this if you see him again.”
She pauses for a moment.
“Josie,” she says. “I urge you to learn more about your family while you’re here. Try to understand where your uncle and the rest of your Ohana come from, and the gods that dominate your lineage. It all decides your mana. Your uncle is living his mana. Your turn is coming.”
“It is?” I ask.
“I’ve got to go now, Josie,” she says. “I hope you enjoy your outfit and your dinner tonight. Mahalo!”
She ends the call and I’m left feeling ashamed. Did I really just imply my uncle was someone dangerous to a stranger?
I did. What is wrong with me? I screwed up. My stomach hurts. It feels empty and shaky. I feel more nervous than ever. Why did I do that?
I hear a knock on the slider door. I see it’s Gary, with a huge smile on his face. He’s got a plastic bag in one hand that I know has my new outfit and shoes in it. I suddenly feel like bawling my eyes out.
“Josie,” he says through the door. “Knock, knock. Can you let me in?”
I jump up and unlock the slider door and open it. I turn around and return to the couch.
“Wait until you see how cute this outfit is,” he says in a teasing voice. “Hey, is something wrong?”
I look up at him standing in front of me, as excited about my new outfit as I was five minutes ago, and I burst into tears.