Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sun, surf, and school-girl crushes

I thought he was a tool.  Granted, an attractive tool, but a tool nonetheless.  Admittedly, my intentions towards him were less than admirable.  After all, tools are meant to be used right?  Then, in the process of accomplishing my objectives, I went and did something very stupid.  I kinda fell for him.

The moment he cracked my impenetrable shell is a little hard to pinpoint.  It was somewhere between realizing how incredibly goofy he was and this point where he probably saved the life of one of our more special volunteers (yeah, I'm definitely a sucker for the white-knight types).  I no longer wanted to use him, but rather, just observe him.  Cheesy as it is, I wanted to understand who and what he was because he did something that few people have.  He surprised me.  Unfortunately, the more I saw, the more I liked what I saw.  The more I talked to him, the more I wanted to keep talking to him.  Haha, this of course lead to him throwing me headlong into the friend-zone.  Ugh...such is the nature of my love life.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I suppose I should catch everybody up before bearing all.

The weekend after my last entry, there was a huge YSA dance party in Lautoka.  I was actually really tired and didn't feel much like dancing (shock, I know), but I went to get some material needed for another project where we are making a music video for Azonto (very popular song here in Fiji).  We've been getting different shots of people dancing to it with us across the island, and the plan is to put it all together the last week.  I made up a quick dance and went to the party that night with the intention to teach, shoot, and bail.  In the process, I was asked to dance a few times, and apparently caught the eye of one of the strangest creatures I've ever seen.

I don't mean to be disrespectful by calling him strange, or a creature for that matter.  But I've never seen anything or anyone like him (or her?).  He had the skin of a freckled Irish lad, the hair of a black beauty shop bleaching addict, the body and demeanor of a 16 year old girl, and the face of a Fijian brute.  When he approached me to ask me to dance, I gladly accepted, but had to stop myself from staring.  It was my very first dance with an albino transvestite.  It took me about 2 minutes of dancing with him to determine that it was, in fact, a guy and that the bra he was wearing was definitely not weight-bearing.  His skin was such an interesting combination of Caucasian coloring with Polynesian undertones and texture.  He was a fantastic dancer, and would just drop into a full split any time he pleased.  I couldn't stop watching him.  It was all too interesting.  I watched how he interacted with the others at the dance.  Some of the guys were a little sheepish and shy around him, but he definitely had a large group of buddies who had long ago accepted him as one of their own.  It was neat to see them interact and have fun together.  It was neat to see how most of the other members in the dance were so ready to get to know him and enjoy his company.  The whole of the experience was just...neat.

I talked to my Relief Society president the next day.  I asked her if transgendered individuals were pretty well accepted in Fijian society.  I'd seen several while traveling around, but never interacting with others, and given Fiji's very religious and conservative culture, I've often wondered about that.  She said that yes, of course, they were all very well accepted.  They called them 'shims', and she mentioned that many are even active in government and other high offices.  She said everybody just recognizes that it's their personal choice to live their life that way, and it's not our place to judge them, just love them.  I couldn't agree more.

The following weekend, we went back to Natadola beach.  It still stands as the prettiest beach I've been to, and my favorite thus far.  Much to my dismay, it rained all day.  That didn't stop me from wandering all over the beach and singing at the top of my lungs in the more remote parts.  That alone, would have made the trip worthwhile, but in the evening we were graced with a gorgeous sunset...and these awesome firedancers.   It was quite the treat.

After that weekend, my work in Fiji came almost to a standstill.  Not because I wanted it to, but because we were wrapping most things up with our partners.  I still had a few more to work on, but the main guy I was working with happened to be out of the country and therefore contact.  It was frustrating to say the least.  But I tried to work on the media advertising book Dr. Tukana asked me to create and schedule just a few more nutrition lectures.  Eventually, the work just got to be too slow, so I decided to finally use the vacation days I'd been saving up all summer, and head to the beach for a few days with the few remaining volunteers we had left.

It was a great trip.  We went to The Beach House backpackers resort.  It's a small but fun place, and the setting of my aforementioned predicament.  The first day, it rained (apparently Fiji is getting an abnormal amount of rain this year), and was so cold, I stayed indoors and just chatted with the other backpackers.  We got to know some really neat personalities, including this girl named Maddie from Australia.  She's probably one of the coolest girls I've ever met.  She came to Fiji for an internship doing some ecology work with the reefs, but is ending her trip just surfing all the wicked waves the coral coast has to offer.  She's also done several marathons and even a Tough Mudder event.  I had so much respect and admiration for this woman.

We also met a man named Luke who apparently has been ALL over the world.  He does some kind of work with hospital consultant work, and that has been the avenue that facilitated most of his travel.  He was a really interesting guy and a lot of fun to interrogate for several hours.  Somehow amidst those questions, we happened upon the subject of shark attacks and ended the evening looking up you-tube videos on them.  I didn't think much of it, until the next day when we all went out snorkeling in the open ocean.

It was kind of a crazy awesome trip.  We met up in the morning and a few of the surfers mentioned going to this sweet place over an hour off the coast where there's a huge coral reef in the middle of open ocean that creates some great surfing waves.  In total there were 9 of us that went.  4 surfers and 5 snorkelers.  The snorkelers consisted of me, Allen, Katherine, Bekah, and a traveling opera singer named Kent.  It was a rough but beautiful boat ride, and we got to see dolphins a few times that day.

This was the trip that lead to my school-girl mean crush.  His name is Tyler, and happened to be sitting next to me on the way out to the reef.  It's where I started actually talking to him and seeing what an adorable goof he was.  Besides protecting me from the water trying to find it's way on board, he also kept me entertained most of the way out.  It made for a fun trip and I repented of my former tool judgement.  When we reached the reef, the snorkelers decided to watch the surfers show their stuff.  Allen swam too close to the breaks while snorkeling and started getting caught up in them.  I was terrified.  He was too far away and in too dangerous of a situation for me to be able to do anything of use.  I could tell he was struggling but had no clue how to help.  That's about the time I saw Tyler swim out with his board and get him.  I've never felt so grateful to a stranger in my whole life.  The tiny fissure made in my shell was cracked wide open, and the crush took root.

The ride home was a rough one.  Not only did a storm come in and create incredibly cold and uncomfortable conditions for all on board, but I was starting to experience something I hadn't in a long inner turmoil.  Part of it was just from the fact that I was acknowledging the new crack in my shell, part of it was from wondering what to do about that crack, and part of it was from having to watch the subject of my crush put his arm around Katherine the whole way home.  It didn't help either that I thought it was incredibly sweet of him to do so, especially considering how cold she was.  I didn't think ill of either of them for it, I just didn't enjoy having to watch it.  Haha like I said...inner turmoil. 

That night, in an effort to snuff out the crazy I felt, I decided to utilize the one thing that usually dissuades my interest in guys - haha getting to know them.  I talked to him quite a bit that night.  Unfortunately, the more I talked to him, the more I wanted to keep talking to him.  I loved his crooked grin and playful sense of humor, and I experienced this rush every time I could get him to smile.  By the end of the night I knew I was in trouble.'s just so rare that I find that lethal combination of intelligence, masculinity, awareness, kindness, and general curiosity.  It made me think back to some conversations I had with my little brother about what kind of guy he saw me fitting with (or at least the kind he wanted me to fit with lol), and for the first time, I saw it too.

The next day, I was lucky enough to spend the day away from him.  I did learn to surf, and the experience was so dramatically fun and enjoyable, I kind of forgot about everything else.  I definitely want to do it more often and maybe attain some degree of skill.  I can't believe I've waited this long to try it out.  Perhaps I'm jumping the gun on this, but I'm thinking about planning a trip to Costa Rica next summer specifically to just do two things - learn Spanish, and surf.  I've actually been thinking about learning Spanish for the past few years (since every one I know seems to speak it already), but after all the traveling I've done this year, it just feels like the right time to buckle down and do it. 

Anyways, surf lessons only lasted till low tide, and then it was back to reality.  A few of us (Tyler included) went to the local village that night for dinner.  I, of course, love visiting Fijian villages.  This village was no exception.  They played music, served kava, and fed us dinner.  It was my first time trying kava, and it was as gross as people told me it would be.  It made my tongue a little numb, but mostly, it just made me sleepy for a bit.  I probably would have ended up taking a nap right there if it wasn't for the villagers playing "Azonto" every 30 mins or so, demanding that me and Bekah dance to it every time.  We obliged, but they definitely weren't the most enthusiastic of our performances.  I can see why drinking kava and eating every evening is causing some problems with obesity in these villages.  Whether it's with a television or a plant induced trance, the combination of food and inactivity seems to have the same effect.

After bidding "Moce!" to the village, we headed back to the resort and I tried to wash the kava out of me with a nice hot shower.  It worked well enough, and I even had the energy to dry my hair after (for the first time in probably a week...).  The rest of the evening, we just sat around and chatted about life.  Somehow Tyler convinced me to give him a massage that night (lets face it, I didn't need much convincing), and I found myself in another very difficult situation.

Don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything inappropriate about any of it.  We set up a mattress on the floor of our dormitory where I worked on him as Bekah and Katherine asked him questions.  Besides further endearing himself to me, the worst question of the night was by far "What do you look for in a guy/girl."  The last thing I wanted to do was openly admit that this guy that had no interest in me was the kind of guy I look for.  I just felt so awkward.  Before long, Bekah fell asleep, and Tyler continued making me laugh for the next hour or so.  I got to ask him a little more about himself, which again, didn't help, but here's the shocker...he actually asked me questions about me.  I actually felt resistant at first because it was such a new experience for me.  I've had guys propose marriage to me that haven't even bothered to do that.  Curse him..   

Though it was somewhat difficult to be working on someone I was now so attracted to and had no shot with, the worst thing part of all was how much I found myself craving just a hug from him.  I know I'm a snuggle-addict by nature, but the few hugs I got from him were so safe and warm, I couldn't help but feel at home there.  Luckily, he fell asleep while I was working on him, and so the opportunity never presented itself.  Had it, I probably would have made a total fool of myself. 

From that point on, it was hard to mask the awkwardness my crush caused me to feel.  I felt torn between wanting to be around him and never wanting to see him again.  Normally I'm not that dichotomous (or unstable - whatever you wanna call it).  He just made it pretty clear that he wasn't interested in anything other than getting to know me better - which of course just caused my crush to worsen.  The next day I felt kind of cranky and out of sorts because of it.  I found it difficult to relax unless I ignored his presence entirely.  So even though I ended up going to a local surf competition with him, I didn't talk to him much the whole time.  He really didn't approach me either, which only further confirmed that I had assessed his interest correctly.  At least until one of the Fijian contestants decided to strike up a friendly conversation with me.

I tried to keep up conversing with both of them for a while, but of course, Tyler won out.  I just liked talking to him too much.  That particular moment on the beach with him will probably always be one of my favorite.  Ugh...crushes suck.  But how could I not fall for this face?

On the brighter side, I do know it'll pass.  I don't know him well enough for it not to.  I guess I should be grateful that at least this crush is on someone I'll probably never see again, rather than my best friend.  That, at least, is an improvement.  But, my gut still aches, and for some crazy reason, I still kind of miss him.  Who knew my first crush in five years would be a 24 year old surfer from California.  Who knew I would feel just as silly and awkward at 26 as I did at 16.  *sigh* oh well.  I guess its just good that I only have a little over a week left in Fiji.  Haha and I suppose it's also incredibly convenient that the cousin of my friend Kula has asked me out for this week.

Yup, that's right...I got asked out on a REAL date. lol  His name is Curtis, and I'll be sure to report on how that date goes.  Though I may still be a little preoccupied, I am excited for it, and I think it will help with the preoccupation.  He's a really nice guy.  He currently works as a bouncer and is very protective of me when I go clubbing (haha something I like because it's sometimes necessary due to the nature of some Indo-Fijian men).  Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he is also one of the most stunningly handsome and perfectly cut men I've ever seen.  I'll try to post a picture next week just so you can appreciate his beauty with me.  It may not be enough to make me like him, but I can't say I'll mind spending a little time just looking at him.  Mostly, I'm just hoping I'll be able to understand him, and I really hope the conversation will be easy/enjoyable.  That should be enough to distract me until I make it home.  I can't believe I just have one more week left....Yikes!

Until then...Moce! I love you all and can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

Oh, and Happy Birthday this week to my ever-gorgeous sister Jenni.  You still don't look a day over 25 and you never will.  ;)   


  1. I adore you! This post was so delightful to read :) I can't wait to read your other stuff when I have time. Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

  2. Wait you get to go on a date? What is this? Anyways you're awesome, Love you!

  3. lol I guess it is better to ask permission then ;)

    Karli, I'm glad you got back safe and sound. Good luck with your crazy week of school!

  4. I freaking love your life!! Snorkeling, surfing, boat rides, beach sunsets, dancing and hot men... And all while helping people! Hello??? You are AWESOME!!!