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I have been seeking refuge since last March. Like so many people, I miss a lot. It’s been over 14 months since I hugged a friend, ate in a restaurant, cut my hair, flew on a plane with a paperback novel, attended a reading, then sipped wine from a plastic cup as I wandered the hallways and Leafing through displays and buying books afterwards hold them in my awesome hands. If I suspected all of this could – and would – happen, I imagine saying yes to more outings, ordering more than seafood gumbo and a French 75 at this bar, grooming that mane sooner, and a or three Stay extra nights in Houston and buy more titles from Brazos Bookstore along with Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water and Danez Smith’s Homie.

I was fortunate to have spent much of my pandemic pie chart with piles of books by the window, on the love seat, and in bed. Although I love reading at home, I miss taking my books elsewhere as well. As you may know, I’ve always taken reading (and writing) vacations. There was Salt Lake City once and a couple of trips to Los Angeles.

As I wait until it is safer to go elsewhere, daydreaming reading has permeated my brain. In “What do you read during the day?”, Katie Moench guessed correctly. Mine includes a beach. Whenever I visit Hawaii, my home town, I want to do all the things, eat all the things, and see all of my people. Of course, that’s where my perfect day of reading unfolds semi-aimlessly, and I’ve thought enough about it to know what that luxurious fantasy would look like.


With my love, I wake up early enough at the Royal Hawaiian to watch the sun rise. On the balcony we drink vanilla macadamia nut lattes and eat banana macadamia nut bread. (No, that’s not too much macadamia nut.) Because I like to start my days with poetry, I study poetry between appreciating heaven and having my nutty breakfast. Maybe “Kissing the Opelu” by Donovan Kūhiō Colleps and “Perihelion: A History of Touch” by Franny Choi. Maybe I’ll flip through Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Inspired and full of caffeine, I scribble several lines of my own.

Sabrina & Corina cover

At 8 o’clock we go down to the cabana with towels and literature. My straw sack doesn’t snap under the weight. In the shadows, I turn to books I wanted to read again, such as June Jordan’s Haruko / Love Poems, Kali Fajardo-Anstines Sabrina & Corina, Zeyn Joukhadar’s The Thirty Names of the Night, and Justin Torres’ We the Animals. I don’t worry about eye strain and headaches because I look at the horizon every time I change sides. In the distance a dolphin turns around. We fall into the same rhythm. As friends fall together, we spin together. My sweetheart and I drink mineral water and a snack on açaí bowls. After we have enjoyed and digested and found a good place to pause, we go to the water and the sand does not sauté our feet. As we sway with the tide in a sandbar, we discuss our books.

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Back under our pink umbrella, we dry and roll and tan and never burn or get hot enough to sweat. My lover is reading something funny. (For recording, this is a natural choice and not me to assign the reading.) Every now and then it breaks down in the middle of a paragraph, one of my favorite sounds around the world. I listen until the giggles stop and then I ask about the source of all that laughter.


World of Wonders cover

For lunch we go to Piggy Smalls. On the way we listen to an audio book. Possibly The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz or World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. We rewind to hear passages again that expand our hearts, fold our brains, and make the breath catch in our throats. We share headphones near the window. I order the “vegan Pho” and my sweetheart the “smoked Brisket Pho French Dip Banh Mi” with noodles. As we sip, we continue to read with our ears. Our knees and toes touch under the table.

While we are in Kaka’ako, we must swing past Nā Mea Hawai’i. In search of the latest editions of Bamboo Ridge, we buy a shopping bag overflowing with books, ignoring the airline’s £ 50 limit. The staff would just say, hey, great taste. I love this book and am not paying us for the extra weight. We go to the shop to finish our audiobook because I’ve wanted Laurel Flores Fantauzzo’s My Heart Underwater since I found out about it in the Kaimukī bookstore newsletter. This time we fill the empty space of our second suitcase.


Space struck cover

We drag our books back to the cabana and read until sunset. After watching the sun kiss the horizon, we sit in the Mai Tai Bar and have a drink with an umbrella. We chat about our favorite characters, their motivations and memorable scenes while we put wasabi peas in our mouths. I scribble a stanza on a cocktail napkin, then we stroll back to our room, where we sniff the moon and stars on the balcony until a ramen dinner arrives. My slurping shape is flawless. No soup splashes in, on or near Space Struck by Paige Lewis and A Treatise on Stars by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. I finish every drop and then return to poetry with a comfortable soup belly and a cup of green tea.

When the yawn starts, we climb into bed, where new books are piled on the bedside table. In the lamplight, I try the first few pages to decide which one to swallow next. I admire the purple orchid lei draped on the beige shade. Waves lull me to sleep. In my dreams a picture, phrase or title for the piece I was working on comes to me. I win a shopping spree at one of my favorite independent bookstores. My agent emails intended for me say, I love your newest piece. Do you have any work projects? I would like to read it. Welcome to my dream within a daydream.

In case you’ve been pondering where to spend some day reading books, read these posts for inspiration: Plan your dream reading vacation at a literary Airbnb, 50 independent, black-owned bookstores to support today , and our literary tourism essays.