I sat on the plane, and somehow I knew I would be back soon. Every single fiber of my body wanted to come back and see the islands again. And yet, little did I know of them.

Aunts were very happy about the trip. So much so that they ordered a second batch, this time with my little brother (back then still unmarried) and myself. He threw a fit of hissy because I was invited a second time, and my elder brother wasn't at all; but then again, I spent tons of time with my aunts and the other brother barely knew their names, so it was a done deal.

{moszoomimglink:Marco between the Polynesian masks} This time, we decided we would not do something fun every day. Instead, we would relax for one day, and venture around the other. We stayed two weeks, flew over to Big Island, saw the famous 1992 eruption and, I confess, had a lot of fun.

Doris amused us a lot. She had all these odd habits and eerie sayings: she warned us about baking bread in the new moon, called every Asian Chinese -- in spite of her best friend, a Japanese! -- and all in all amused us to death announcing that Italians didn't know how to cook spaghetti, while she did.

And yet, the second time around, the islands didn't lose their fascination.

We flew back, and life went on. I miraculously got my degree, even though the final exams were a mere two weeks after coming back from Hawai'i. Then my brothers married, my mother got sick and I myself moved back to Germany, trying to force what I was not getting for fair.

In 1998, I was ready for a jump. My consulting business in Cologne was going strong, and it was time to think about expanding. I had finished a book, needed to proofread it and decided it was time for a break and took off for San Diego.

I loved California, and it told me that I really loved this country, America. As I got ready to go home, all my new-found friends were upset I would leave, but I explained that there was no way I was going to get a job and be able to stay.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email. A headhunter in Oregon wanted to know if I was interested in a job. He asked where I lived, and I said Cologne, Germany. He asked if I could talk with a few people from a company in Portland, and I agreed. A long and amusing story later, I had my visa and was in Oregon. And then in San Francisco.