In 1971, I decided that Mr. Right was not riding the subways of New York City. My plan for discovering his whereabouts was to move as far west from NYC as possible, while still remaining in the United States, and begin journeying east. I relocated to Hawaii with my bicycle, a backpack and a lot of hope in my heart.
Within a day of landing, I was job hunting. Riding my bike along the busy streets of Waikiki, I stopped at the International Market Place, a shopping center of sorts.
Interviewing with the center's management, my background in fashion illustration was interpreted as advertising expertise. Too polite to correct the misunderstanding, I was hired as a graphic artist to create the Market Place's newspaper ads.
New to the locale and position, I was encouraged to wander the Market Place for inspiration. Filled with individual specialty shops, hula demonstrations on the hour, abundant alcohol and vacationing tourists, the atmosphere was of a very happy place. The vibe of excitement and enticement reminded me of Bendel's, which I attempted to interpret for an ad campaign.
At my dismissal meeting, it was noted that after just two weeks on the job, everyone was sad to see me go, and as a last hurrah, an evening at the famous Don Ho show was in order. No firing was ever so gloriously celebrated.
A year later, I said goodbye to my friends in management. As a parting gift, I received a letter of recommendation. In Denver, I used that reference to land a job and by New Year's Eve, had met Mr. Right.
It's forty-two years since my quest for true love took me to Hawaii, and with New Year's Eve on the cusp, champagne is on the brain, which reminds me of Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles.
Sentimental of those days, I googled the International Market Place, and not a day too soon, for in a blink, the landmark will be no longer. By 8 p.m. on Dec. 31,
...every cart, shop, kiosk, dive bar, hole-in-the-wall eatery and fortune-teller's booth at the Market Place must clear out and construction of the newest mall will begin.
The loss of the Market Place is tragic because historic kitsch is irreplaceable. Just look at the efforts to reconstruct the Jersey Boardwalk from the damage of super storm Sandy and a devastating fire. Locally, our town guards against the extinction of a 1920 children's amusement park because preserving the miniature rides and carousel for future generations to enjoy is paramount to the many municipality issues on the yearly ballot.
At sixty-five, I admit to a growing nostalgia for what once was, and, especially this New Year's Eve, remembering when a fake Polynesian village offered a lifetime of memories.