As we patiently await a final pickup date after another short extension to our time on Green Island, Kure Atoll, those of us here have finally had the reality check that we will soon be returning to a world we’ve spent a great deal of time away from.
In spending over seven months in a remote place like this, you get accustomed to an island way of life with its simple nature and void from common everyday stimulations found back home. Since we arrived in August, we (and one, Virginie T., who has reached the rare monument of a full calendar year on the island having arrived last March) have lived without artificial light except the faint glow emitted by headlamps or small solar-powered lights. We haven’t had fresh food, true sinks or major household utilities, nor heard the voice or seen the face of anyone except those of the other seven people here with us all season. There are no cars, no cell phones, no keys, no money, and no need to care about your everyday appearance as there aren’t even any big mirrors to look at yourself in. In short, come the day we step foot back on Oahu next month, we are all due for a little culture shock as our reintroduction process starts.
Having been in this situation several times before, I know firsthand how startling a passing car can be the first time walking down a sidewalk or the sudden panic attack brought on in a grocery store aisle looking at too many options of spices under such ‘harsh’ lighting. I’ve walked out the door several times without my wallet and had to remind myself constantly that doors lock and that leaving something anywhere doesn’t mean you’ll return to find it there weeks later.
With the isolation we’ve endured, we will all return with a great deal of life to catch up on. We won’t know what music is in or what new words, apps, and other social norms have started since we left Honolulu. We’ll struggle to remember passwords for websites unless we wrote them down and might forget we can Google search anything instead of looking it up in the dictionary and encyclopedia or waiting for Amanda to come to the kitchen to ask her if she knows as she knows a lot about everything. Life will go from so few options and items to what will feel like millions. It can be a bit frightening to think about but still, there is a joy in the ability to return in such a manner.
For one, with the lengthy separation we’ve had from the things we love, there can be an immense and profound effect in experiencing them once again. Imagine what it’ll be like for us when we take that first bite of a fresh piece of fruit after so long apart… Or what about the embrace of family and friends we’ve been reduced to contact with by simple text-only emails all this time? Things that might seem normal to many of you will quickly have become novel to us. It’s a unique opportunity to experience new again the little things we could take for granted before the time on Kure.
We have a lot to look forward to and although we will all be due our own reintroduction struggles, we’ll at least have this adventure to remember and tell stories about. After living on an island like this, you seemingly become a sort of celebrity because the concept of it is cinema worthy. How often do you get to know what lies out there over the expanse of ocean and gain a view of yourself while submerged in Mother Nature’s firmest hold and deepest beauty? We’ve seen things few would ever imagine and have to remember that on the day we return, this place, this world, can easily become a dream of its own.
So until we return and see many of you, we’ll enjoy our final days here and want to advise you in advance that if we get lost in conversation or freeze in a sudden reflection of the beauty of the days we just left, bear with us. It’ll take some time to get the hang of things but that’s only because Kure and these birds have been all we’ve known lately and truly have changed many parts of our lives. We can all attest it is a privilege to be here and only hope we did our part to show our gratitude and good fortune during our time here.
DLNR/DOFAW Kure crew-member,