A few years ago, at a charity auction, our husbands successfully bid on an item that included two tickets to the closing night of U2’s world tour, with Pearl Jam as the improbable warm-up band, plane tickets and a hotel room on Waikiki beach. Because they decided to send us on the trip, the guys enjoyed “hero” status in our small community.
Several weeks later, in early December, we felt happy and still a little stunned to be leaving Seattle in the middle of the holiday craziness. A three-day trip may not seem like much time off, but at this time of year—with all of the events, shopping, sports games, practices and schoolwork—getting away is nothing short of a Herculean feat.
During the flight across the Pacific, we found ourselves slowly decompressing. We discussed plans for the weekend, listing all the activities we wanted to cram in. Sleeping in and eating large, pricey meals were definitely not on the agenda.
Saturday morning started early with a “Hulacize” lesson in the hotel basement. The class consisted of us and a group of Japanese tourists – two women of a certain age and two unbelievably adorable and fit teenage girls. It quickly became clear that our hips just didn’t, and wouldn’t, move the way the others’ did, so we migrated to the back row. Our sweet, patient instructor soon abandoned her mission to make us Hula-capable, and let us go through the motions with one eye on the clock.
That afternoon, we signed up for another sport. We stopped by a surf shop and found a suitable instructor who appeared more sympathetic to beginning middle-aged moms. A few hours later, as we waited near our hotel for the ride to the beach, a white van drove past slowly, and a long-haired, leather-skinned young man called out to us: “Hey, are you girls surfers?” We looked at each other, giggled and shouted back, “YES WE ARE!” The van came to a screeching halt.
We survived the lesson with coral cuts, sore arms and sunburned backs. However, we did ride a few waves all the way to shore (and got photos to prove it). We recalled our triumphs all afternoon and into the early evening, as we shopped, lounged by the pool and prepared for our big rock concert outing.
That night, we headed back to the street corner, this time for a shuttle to Aloha Stadium (which was an hour’s drive away). A black-and-white party bus was already parked nearby, and young men and women streamed on and off with stiff drinks in plastic cups. We figured it was our ride, climbed on board and joined the fun. (We later realized we had crashed a private party and missed our assigned bus, but that’s another story…)
As we rolled down the highway towards the stadium, we chatted with three guys in the seat behind us. After a while, one of the young men said, “You are the coolest moms we have ever met. We can’t imagine our moms going to a U2 concert or knowing so much about music.” We of course glowed with the compliment – even if we were being grouped in the older generation.
We rocked, we rolled, we felt young and carefree, and at 2:30 am, when the bus stopped outside the Hyatt, we decided it was a perfect time to call it a night, to leave while we still felt “cool.” Our young friends carried on. Back in our room, we laughed about the evening and our once-in-a-lifetime experience. Carol joked, “We are definitely Hula-Rocker-Surfer Girls now.”
After just two days away, we had begun to remember who we were. We were fun. We were spontaneous. We were courageous. We were capable. We were even…well, maybe just a little bit…at least for women our age…hip.
Monday afternoon, we were back to reality at our homes in Seattle. When our kids returned from school, we shared our concert and surfing experiences. They were surprised and maybe even slightly proud. However, when Carol’s kids saw the surfing shots, they said, “You’re kidding! That is a dinky wave, not the Big Kahuna you were talking about.” Carol replied, “Well, all I can say is it looked really big to me when it was behind me, and in my mind, I was a real surfer girl.”
– Carol Lewis Gullstad and Linda Williams Rorem, 6 Dec. 2010