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Issue 10: The Bank of Hawaii

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Woman About the Internet

October 12 · Issue #10 · View online
I am a writer, mother, and decent human being living in Seattle, Washington. My monthly newsletter pairs perfectly with the everyday and the End of Days. I think you're swell.

Sometime before I was born my father was cast in a Bank of Hawaii commercial. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’ve actually seen it or have just heard about it enough to think I have. Long ago my kid brain locked in a vivid memory of him running down the beach with a tan woman, sunset on the horizon, pausing briefly to withdraw cash from a brand new ATM. Every so often I’ll idly google “Bank of Hawaii 80’s commercial” hoping to find some trace of him on YouTube.
Ron passed away in 1997, long before the dead were memorialized in Facebook profiles. I once managed to find his yearbook on Classmates.com with single photo of him dressed as an old man in a school play at Tahoma High School in 1964.* His death certificate is the only other online trace of him. Not because he was erased, but because he never really existed there.
He skipped picture day, apparently.
My father would have loved the internet. But by the time the rest of us were crafting our first AIM names and building GeoCities fan pages he was on his way out. Ron was a chronic cataloger of records, tapes, and CDs. The storage area of his condo had wall to wall shelves full of perfectly organized VHS tapes. Shows he’d recorded off of television, movies, things he thought I might like. The entirety of the Disney Vault. Every Bette Davis film. And that Bank of Hawaii commercial. Nothing went unarchived.
Ron traveled to Egypt just before he lost his eyesight, a few years before AIDS claimed him. He wrote a journal there in the form of letters to me. As an overindulged only child with a lot of free time and access to cassette tapes, I thought I’d return the favor when my mothers and I went on a cross-country road trip. I created an elaborate diary of our journey, recording hot takes on mundane rest stop drama and reviewing motels with my Panasonic tape deck. In my mind was as good as floating down the Nile.
Ron’s birthday is October 17th. I’m never sure how to word that properly. When someone dies does their birthday exist in the past tense? Can someone who was once very much alive “used to have a birthday?” Important and odd things tend to happen to me on that day, probably because I ascribe more meaning to them than I ought to. The year after he died I went to my first homecoming dance and fell in love with a boy who would change my life for better and for worse. Last year I completed doula training, which I’m sure he would have mocked in the most endearing way possible. The year prior a friend convinced me to attend a dinner held in complete darkness and led by blind servers. Halfway through pouring a steady stream of wine into my lap, I heard his name called from across the room. This year, my father’s oldest friend, the one who stood beside him in that yearbook photo, is visiting for the first time in over a decade.
My father was adopted and then returned and adopted again, the product of a wartime love affair that my grandmother kept secret until her death. I know that there are many people near Missoula, Montana that look like me, but I haven’t found the right way to break the news to them yet. I’m sure they’re all on Facebook.
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Finally, here is Maude, who does not understand time or the internet but feels the change of seasons deeply.
xo Drew
*Classmates.com is a treasure trove of yearbook archives and I encourage all of you to search for your relatives, crushes, and enemies. I have no idea why they don’t advertise this. Fun fact: 10 Things I Hate About You was filmed at my dad’s high school. Thanks, Classmates.com.
I love you and you are deserving of great things.
Some of my other writing lives here. If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, you can do so right here. I also hang out on Twitter. You should email me with any pressing questions or desires.
Need to catch up on an issue? Explore the archives right here
Disclaimer: this newsletter is in no way sponsored by Classmates.com but I’m open to the possibility, you guys. 
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