I barely heard my sister shouting over the rushing waterfall. My hands were quivering with adrenaline and my heart was beating like a drum as I peeked over the edge. Cautiously, I caught a glimpse of my sister in the dark water below. She was a speck of caramel amidst a watery backdrop and she was yelling something. Something about how the drop wasn’t so bad. That was somewhat of a relief. But that still meant it was bad, and something that’s bad is still no good at all. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
My sister saw me backing away from the slippery edge. She yelled threateningly from the black water below.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
I can’t back out now, she said, especially after I made her jump off first. Coward, she called out. Chicken, she shrieked. I shouted back that I was fine with being a chicken as long as I didn’t have to jump. She caught her breath and tried to reason with me. I might never jump, I might never be back here again, she said. And those words stung me because this was the most beautiful place I had ever been. Not just in the scenery and the weather, but in the way that everyone existed. Everything was just so beautiful.
Earlier that day, I had been sitting under a circus-like white tent along with what seemed like hundreds of guests at my half-sister’s cousin’s son’s birthday party. All across Hawaii and even the continental United States, the most distant of relatives were invited to Hana, Maui to celebrate baby Makoa’s first birthday. As I got my third piece of haupia cake, I asked my sister why first birthdays were such a huge deal in Hawaii. She told me, between spoonfuls, that in old Hawaii, most kids didn’t live past their first birthday, so surviving one year of life called for a huge celebration. After all, we could die any minute for no reason at all, so we might as well celebrate with tons of food and family. I nodded in agreement.
Now, my sister projects from the depths, that she’s tired of waiting for me. I was tired of waiting, too. Without a thought toward hesitation, I took a running start and the ground disappeared from under my feet. On the way down, I heard the waterfall roaring and I felt my stomach dropping. Then I hit the water with my heart pounding. There was the purest of silences underwater. For a few long seconds, I completely lost my sense of orientation and floated in space. There was no way of knowing which way to swim. I stopped moving and let the water’s buoyant force push me up to the surface. Sound came screaming back to life as I wiped the water out of my eyes.
I saw my sister sitting at the edge with her feet in the water, smiling. See? That wasn’t so bad, you’re still alive, she said. I knew she was right, I could feel my pulse in my ears and adrenaline in my veins. I was alive for the first time. The drop really wasn’t so bad, after all.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.