Day 3: My Tahitian Goodbye

by marylee

There were a few times in my life when I tried to journal. As a result, I have several diaries, the first ten pages filled with enthusiastic thoughts, then….blankness.

I went backpacking, around the world, with my best college friend, Caroline.  I was 20 and it was my first big adventure, far from home.

We had a three-day layover on a little Tahitian island called Moorea.   We stepped off the puddle jumper and I was in awe.  The beauty, smells, music, and people entranced me.  I found us jobs, as au pairs, at Club Med and those three days turned into nine months.

I kept journals on that extraordinary adventure, but in 23 years I have never opened them.  So day three; “Hello shredder- Good-bye journals.”

I was too immature, at that age to seek out the spirituality and traditions of the native people. But, I can still smell the Tiare flowers that we wore behind our ears, remember the dark purple, night sky illuminated with unimaginable amounts of stars, and the exhilaration of diving down into clear waters surrounded by friendly, spotted, sting rays. 

I don’t need to thumb through 256 pages of scribble to remember saying good-bye to my Tahitian friend.  He wore feathers in his ear piercings, and tattooed his name across his fingers T-A-T-U. 

He handed me one of his feathers and said, “Don’t cry. You will be back. Everyone who falls in love in Tahiti returns” 

“But I didn’t fall in love here.” 

“Oh, but you did” he said, “with the island itself.”


The Tahitian wear the Tiare flower behind the ear or woven into floral crowns.

The tradition saws that if a flower is worn on behind the left ear means that his love is taken. The right side means that the heart is free to love.

If a Tahitian waves the Tiare behind his head, it means "Follow me".