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Kailua Beach on Oahu holds waves of memories

Happy Place: Kailua Beach on Oahu beckons with memories of a youthful quest yet unfulfilled.

By Catharine Hamm

September 15, 2013

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I can see it resting atop the sand of Kailua Beach. At long last, we have found a glass Japanese fishing float. It's blue and perfectly formed. My dad, sister and I take off running. After Saturday upon Saturday of beachcombing on the shores near our home on Oahu, we have finally found the prize.

My dad gets there first and plucks it from the sand. In his hand he beholds … a blue light bulb that someone has shoved into the sand.

We would keep looking, rising before dawn, going to the bakery, grabbing some fresh doughnut holes, milk for us, coffee for him, and searching that crescent for the prize.

I'm not sure now why he was so obsessed with those glass orbs, the objects that kept fishermen's nets afloat, but that led to my lifelong obsession with this beach on windward Oahu. Waikiki looks nothing as it did in the '60s of my childhood, but driving over the Pali Highway, stopping and taking in that ocean vista of Kailua Beach is a thrill that's unchanged.

I return whenever I can. See the old home (looks bad). Visit the church where I took First Communion and promptly fainted (longer fasting times then). Drop in at Buzz's restaurant, where I wrote my wedding vows (fortunately, a one-time project).

And spend some time on the beach, looking out at the island specks in the always warm and never-ending Pacific.

I still look for those floats. I know they're out there somewhere. The search still intrigues me, and the watercolor dream that Kailua Beach has become sustains and uplifts me in life's meanest moments.

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