The flight was uneventful. We stopped in Dallas, where the winter was not as clement as I now know it to be. A clear day, a cold day, and we were not prepared. The next flight was on time, more peanuts served, more desserts shoved over the seats back to me, unable to sleep for excitement.

It was night when we landed. And nothing distinguishes Frankfurt from Honolulu at night. The Germans even have a saying that goes: ``At night all cats are grey.'' Smart people, aren't they?

{moszoomimglink:From Queen's beach} But then we got out of the plane, and there was a gentle breeze that blew through the missing walls. The airport was open, and the fresh air of the night was swirling in the smell of flowers I didn't know, but to whom I definitely wanted to be introduced.

Doris picked us up, a weathered woman in her -- let me be clement and miss that little detail. She would host my aunts in her apartment, while I was going to stay in my own hotel room. The Outrigger Kuhio was just about the cheapest we could get, and yet it was about $75 a night. A nice hotel, in the way a $75 hotel can look and be on Waikiki.

Doris was a sweetheart, but a little too trying for us. I would show up in the morning, eat a papaya, spend the rest of the day with the three ladies, then retire around 6pm, after German dinner. That's of course when my day started, and I would spend hours and hours hanging out in bars and discos and dancing my buttocks off. At two or three I would straggle home, cautious not to bump into any of the allegedly violent marines, and fall to sleep.

I would wake up at around seven, in my old habit, and walk down the street to Ala Moana beach park. I would lay my belongings on the beach and swim the Channel back and forth, then shower off, get dressed, and show up again for another day.

I was twenty-four and life couldn't have been more beautiful.