The Happy People of Samoa

So that big fight with my guyfriends… I don’t think they understood just how upset I was. Because I woke up at 6:00 am today, steaming because I was so angry (and I’m sleep-deprived because I’m avoiding the nightmares and grief and my eating disorder using hunger as a drug YES I AM GUILTY you may take me to jail now). And I get up and I’m wearing leggings and a tshirt that says love which is ironic and it is also one of Teddy Bear’s favorite shirts.

These guys. I am biting my lip and growling as I type this because they drive me crazy but in a good way… most of the time.

I chase them down, okay? And they wave and smile and are like “Hey what are you doing here?”

“I came to kill you.”

Oh yes. I am so good at making friends. Best-behaved child on the playground, yeah, that was not me.

And then Teddy Bear looks demurely up at me and says

“Do I look good?”

“I’m not answering that question.”


“Because I’m annoyed with you.”

And these guys are still smiling. And get this, Teddy Bear, who I swear a deep evil part of me that I hate and like to beat up and shove down still likes this guy. He is like 6 foot 5 and built like a boat. Everytime I sit next to this guy just looking at his leg I realize that if he ever fell on me I’d need the hospital. And like the one time he tried to dance with me he nearly knocked me over. And when we walk around I’m so small and he forgets I’m there I guess because the oxygen is thin up there so I get bumped into and he’s just like oh I’m so sorry my lady, my muffin, are you okay?

I love these guys. Anyone who can look at you when you’re making that death face and smile and be like “I still like you!” is definitely my weakness ok? When you’re being super prickly and irritated and they’re just like I STILL WUV YOU and you’re being choked in this big Samoan man hug and it’s like “aaaa my feelings. Stop making me feel feelings. I can’t get out! But okay. Fine. Go ahead. Fusi.” (fusi is the word for hug).

Back to my story I go to church with these knuckleheads who I love so much but who also drive me es locas at least twice a day and I sit next to Teddy Bear. Because my other guyfriend, Kaipo, needs to sit by his new, milk-white blonde boo and cuddle with her. But he also puts his arm around Teddy Bear? I was so confused. Men putting their arms around each other? Say what now? And then there was me. And I start out sitting a chair away from Teddy Bear because I want to assert that I am angry and no I am not available to touch or brush up against and I can’t stand his touch because I don’t want to feel stuff and yes my brain is a fluid nearly ADHD type of brain and that’s how my thought process went. Get used to it. I’ve had to and every day is an adventure.

And then he pats the seat next to him because people are conveniently showing up late. So I have to sit next to the hulking Samoan and the hulky Fijian… because this is my life. And he’s too close! He brushes up against me and his shoulder or his thigh is against mine and my touch cravings go sky high and I just want to bury my face in his shoulder and hide but I CAN’T BECAUSE MI AMIGO HAS ABANDONED ME FOR A WOMAN. Talk about sad and unfair.

And he starts talking about how hot it is and I’m fine because I’m skinny and I was born in a desert heat is kinda my thing. And he keeps complaining so I poke his shoulder and whisper in his hear

“You could always take your shirt off.”

And I want to say in my defense that he is always suggestive with me and flirtatious just in general. And the things he does. This girl in front of him had curly hair and he reaches out to touch it and I just look at him like ‘Boy. What are you doing?” And he just smiles and reaches for it again. Am I dealing with a child? Maybe. I don’t know if I can honestly answer that question.

And he sings like a whale. Dory, speaking whale? He’s about that good. No really I love listening to him sing not because he’s good at it, but because he means it. He likes to sing and he likes to belt out hymns. And of course he says I have a beautiful voice and because I’m so good with people I just say pffffttt.

The Fijian guy next to me asks what happened to my hand and I say “Oh, I just punched a tree.”

Then it’s back to my guyfriends.

Honestly it was so triggering to be in church realizing I don’t believe any of this and not taking the sacrament- which in church culture it feels like you have joined the legions of the devil and there’s plenty of whispers about it. It’s really not like that but it feels that way. It’s like hello I am Lucifer’s receptionist how may I make your life hell today? (I feel like there’s a lot of receptionists who could pull that line, actually). And of course Kaipo and his girlyboo are cuddling and she can’t keep her hands off his.. man-ness.

I forget these guys are men. There’s a reason I call them boyz. It’s because I really struggle to get the idea in my head that these guys are sexy mugs and that women are hounding them to be the provider, husband, and father of their 16 perfectly raised LDS babies. Also holda, the word sexy? Do I look at my boyz that way? No. You can call a lot of our conversations flirting but there’s no real feelings there. At least not for me. Had some for Teddy Bear but we see where that went.

So I actually leave to sit somewhere in the church by myself and I self harm. It was like ten minutes of just… hurting myself. And I relished the pain. It gave me pleasure. It made me relax and feel sleepy. And then I was so mad because I’ve been clean for months. And here we are I have a therapists appointment tomorrow and guess what I don’t lie. So guess who is going to find out what I did. I don’t want to go back into treatment.

And then my brother calls and talks to me about how noble I can be by sacrificing time and gifts to make others happy and to focus outward not inward. Because even though my health has been… questionable. He wants me to think “Oh I can recover because I need to lead women of the world through their BS to a happier meadow past the rainbow bridge and the magical sparkle cove” instead of “I’m going to recover because I want to take my life back and be happy”

So then I finish up crying and they start serving ice cream and keke. Keke is like a fried ball of dough. It’s not too sugary usually and it’s not bad. It’s a Polynesian version of say, and abelsqeever and no I did not spell that right I do not speak Dutch. And I’m standing there just like no. Nope. Nope. I’ve been going hungry a lot because I’m avoiding my feelings. My brother said that what was the point of treatment if I’m still doing the same things I did before I went in… that felt great. And Teddy Bear is serving it and Kaipo gets some and he tried to hand it to me.

“Eat!” (Their favorite word in English.)

“No, you take it, I’m good.” And of course I’m not good. I’m starving because I was up until 1:00 am avoiding my life.

But then fa’aSamoa and he sits down and he’s all upset and he’s like

“But in our culture we feed our sisters first so it’s uncomfortable for us to see you not eat.”

“I know, Kaipo. It’s my major.”

So then I walk over to the group of Polynesian men and my bishop is from Tonga, by the way. And he walks up to me and asks “Why won’t you eat?”

“She’s a vegetarian.” Teddy Bear said

“Are you on restriction? Well that’s your goals and if that’s your goal and you made it I am happy for you.”

So then the conversation takes a turn. Teddy Bear pats his stomach and says

“I have the sixpack.”

And I raised my eyebrows and said

“My sixpack is better than yours.”

All the men around laugh because it’s true. And because they haven’t seen my sixpack and they think I’m playing.

“My sixpack.”

“I think we call that a onepack.”

“No, it’s six.”

And one of the men points to each Polynesian man and says

“Look, one there, one there, one there, one there, and one there and there! Sixpack.”

Teddy bear says “Me too.”

Me: “Bruh, I have seen you shirtless-” *this is in front of his bishop and 6 other men*

Him: “When did you see me shirtless? Is it from the night show pictures?” And he winks at me. That salty. Little. Samoan. And yes I punched him.

Me:”Hey. You called me when you were shirtless. I did not come over there and take your shirt off you did that all by yourself so if —–

OH man was that an interesting conversation to have in a church.

And then they ask about where I live now and in Samoa they don’t do the address they just go look for your house okay so apparently they checked hale 10 and hale 4- the dorms at college to find me! So there’s that explained. And I complain about the men sleeping over and Teddy Bear sasys “Mmm, yumm. That sounds wonderful.” And I nearly shove him into a wall *attempted to, at any rate* “It is NOT wonderful. These are Mormons getting married in the temple it is not okay to sleep on top of each other ok!”

He enjoys it when I get sassy with him. If you watched his face when he does it, you’ll see that look in his eyes. Like that look a kid gets when they moved your car keys and now you can’t take them to school- that look. That smug self-assured smart little…. YES I admit it my guyfriends drive me crazy but it’s only because I care so much about them. I missed them so much when I was in treatment.

And they feed me. But I couldn’t really eat because even though I was there with them I just felt like… it’s pointless to chase after them and try to be with them. If they don’t try to be with me… I just felt this sense of loss and I lost my appetite. Teddy Bear kept saying eat but I couldn’t do it.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about my restriction. It’s been so bad that I’m not even sure how bad it is at this point. But it drives my Samoan guyfriends crazy. My dietician loves them because they encourage me to eat taro and breadfruit and basically eat in general.

So they are going back to the hale and I walk with them and they’re like “Oh, Grace, why are you coming? You live offcampus.”

“I’m escorting you home, you need my protection.”

“Aww thank you, you are so sweet.” And Teddy Bear puts his huge arm around me in a side hug and then says (in Samoan) “Kaipo hug our girl.” And Kaipo says mm “Leai” (that’s a no). And then I say to Teddy Bear.

“Fusi means hug right?”

“Yes it does.”

“I’ve been studying my Samoan. I know what you said.”

“Oh look at this girl so smart white girl studying her Samoan ay.” And then the conversation switched to “Oh you know your facebook post about Samoan canoe you make us so sad saying Tongan canoe is better than Samoa. Did you come be with the Tongans before you hang out with us?”

“Okay well truth is the way women dance in Samoa I don’t like it it’s so graceful and pretty. Could you ever see me doing that? I dance Tahitian!”

“You like the Tongans better than us!” And he says “I am so heartbroken and starts dramatically kicking rocks. and that was after he said that line with his hand to his heart because my little Samoan drama queen is enjoying this game. And we high five goodbye.

Honestly the Tongans in my life say the same thing about the Samoans. when I go to Tongan village they say “Did you visit Samoa first? You hate us. You only like the Samoans. I’m going to cry.”… This is a 400 lb hulking Tongan speaking. And then I go to Samoan village where I am avoiding certain people but I still go visit Moni. His first question “Are you going to Tongan village?”

Next time I get asked that question I’m going to give them a very saucy look and put my hands on my hips and say “Are you saying that I don’t have enough love to love you both, mm?”

So. Story break. When I leave my guyfriends I’m walking back and this Tongan rides up on a “borrowed” bike.

A principle of Polynesia: What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is also mine.

This guy is called Afa. I met him the other day when one of the Sione’s of Tongan village followed me over to the canoe paddling line. See what has been going on is my friend Raj and I made a list of men for me to go out with and one of the men is in Tongan village and he has this awesome smile that makes me happy. So he’s single. And my friend told him I’m the one interested. And I get the sense he’s feeling me out because all he said to my friend was “Woww. Really?” He thought my friend was kidding. So I need to shoot the horse and just ask this poor innocent kitten out. With my usual tact, of course. “Hey, you’re single right? Let’s go out on a date.”

Anyways Sione is one of the older Tongan men in the village trying to hook me up with a boyfriend as an all-purpose stress reliever. So he was loudly having a conversation with me about where is my boyfriend and when does he get to meet him. In front of Sunshine and Afa. Talk about a hint.

So I’ve been visiting Tongan village more often and get this, this guy with the sunshine smile asks about my guyfriend Sione and assumed I just came to see him and I was like “We aren’t dating. I’ve just been his friend for about a year.” Mmm… Feeling things out. Only he doesn’t like ice cream. I don’t know how I feel about that.

So then this guy pulls up in the canoe (this is after our pushup competition between me and sunshine) and I’m like “Who is that?”

“Get on the canoe with him!” Sione pushes me and next thing I know I’m in the canoe with a strange Tongan I don’t know and they’re saying “We’ll see you again tomorrow.”

This guy smiles a lot when I’m around. He asks me questions about myself. I ask questions back. He has got a nice smile too. Seems like a happy guy.

I think I have more options than I thought… Way. More. Options. Then I had planned on. I just spent so long assuming my body was repulsive to men that now this idea that they like me and they get warm and fuzzy and nervous when I grace them with my presence… Crazy talk. I mean I guess my body is good-looking. And I am extremely smart and talented. But still.

This idea that a guy admires me and part of that admiration is that he wants to hug me and hold my hands and kiss me? I mean, if I think of him as a puppy it might help. But the idea that somehow sharing spit is romantic and not a reason to dry heave (you can thank rape for that). It’s like holda. So you like me. So you want to bite me? Also that thing with licking somebody whatttt is that I lick ice cream but would I lick a guy? NO. Guys don’t taste good. Like why would I lick one if he doesn’t even taste like ice cream? Maybe if he had whipped cream on him, I might change my mind… No. Salty caramel and hot fudge sauce. Then I would consider it. He’d have to be a hot fudge sundae before I’d even let the crazy idea of licking a guy into my conscious mind.

Of course I also have that habit of shutting guys down and getting aggressive when they try to get close to me. So there is that.

So this guy. This is the one who walks me home. And I talk to him about my day and I find out some things about him too. He’s from a tiny island somewhere in the Pacific, one of the teeny tiny Tongan islands whose names no one remembers, yeah, that one. And then I talk about my guyfriends and stuff and at one point I just say

“Yeah so I cook, I clean, I play the violin, I draw, and I’m an athlete. I got it all. There’s only two things I don’t do, relationships and math.”

And I tell him “You know like when I like someone I just walk up to him and say I like you because it ends the pain faster. I can’t stand the idea of just sitting there being all moony eyes, it’s a waste of time.”

And he is smiling at me a lot. And he looks me in the eyes and says

“You know the way to get good at relationships is to be in one.”


And then he has to go return the bike so he says “Okay I have to go so I’ll just give you a hug before I go.” And next thing I know this big Tongan hugs me and I wave goodbye.

“See you again soon?”

“Yeah sure I’ll come visit you at work. Only you have to take me in the canoe and sing to me. I like Disney. Start practicing.”

Man. My relationship with Polynesians and particularly the men is complicated and it drives me crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I told my older brother I was accepted to BYU Hawaii he predicted the Polynesian men would be falling to their knees for me.

Now he calls himself The Prophet.

My dad just told me not to come home married to a Polynesian man first semester. I did good on that promise. Still haven’t held hands with a Polynesian man though I have done plenty of teasing and flirting with those men.

My friend told me that I need to not play hard to get all the time. I need to encourage the boys a little more…. I just struggle because I don’t realize that when I’m sassy with them when they’re saying oh you’re so pretty or trying to hug me or touch my shoulder and like hint at asking me out I’m not supposed to be like “Bruh, what are you playing at?” That bro code. See the problem with men who like me? Is that they remind me that I’m a woman! That thing I’ve been avoiding? Yes. My GENDER! My sexuality!

I’m a woman! And they want to love me up and I’m like “MY BROTHER.” I mean… when you’ve been running with the guys a long time and they don’t really see you as a woman they could be with you kind of forget how to… Well honestly I don’t have much experience being loved up by a man who didn’t have ulterior motives… When I was “loved up” at all.What’s a girl to do? I’m scared of liking a guy. I’m scared of how I’ll feel with his hands on my body. I’m terrified of him tenderly kissing me or pulling me into his chest protectively or just coming up to me and initiating touch. I don’t really know what that’s like at all. It’s scary and strange and weird and I’m not sure I can do this.

And then now that I’m paying attention to all the sideways looks, smiles, winks, and side conversation I’m realizing that despite my best efforts to have a flat chest and talk like and act like a tough girl, they’re no buying it! They look straight through and see someone they want to touch. They want the woman part of me to come out for them and kiss them back and fill that need that men have for romantic companionship, to feel needed, wanted, appreciated by a woman. Women are a strong compliment to masculinity. We amplify the best qualities of a man and help him develop other skills and feelings like tenderness.

I remember that time when I was on my period and I had a PTSD panic attack and fell to the floor crying and screaming and then I realized I had bled through my clothes. And I left a trail of drips of blood across the house to go find a new pair of underwear. When I’ve now been having my period for 14 days, a constant, bleeding reminder that I’m a woman. It drains my energy. My hormones make me go crazy. And the idea that maybe next time I’m feeling weak and vulnerable tired, I don’t have to kick my own butt and do business and just take care of it all, that I might just go find my boyfriend and just be with him and let him baby me?

KT babied me. I never felt more powerful emotions of trust, safety, and connection than I felt with him. He has been showing up in every single piece of art I make for months now and I want him to go but what’s more important is what he meant to me. When I was with him, that tender, vulnerable part of myself, the petals unfurled and he was gentle with me. I didn’t have to up my barricades and spikes. I was safe. And I knew it. Just because when someone touches you, you know how they’re feeling. Most people don’t pay that much attention but yeah it’s true. The way someone holds you, kisses you, you know how they’re feeling. I’m not sure why that is.

I’m afraid of falling in love again. Because the last one still makes me cry.

My impression from hugging Afa? Well… He’s a big, strong guy. Wide shoulders. He’s got the body type I usually gravitate towards. It felt like a hug that was like “Mm, heyy.” Kind of like a test. Evaluating what it feels like to hug me. And kind of an icebreaker. Didn’t take him long to break the touch barrier. Which Sunshine has not done yet.

One of the tests I think I would use for a boyfriend is a close hug. If I feel comfortable in his arms- which is super important to me because a hug means he touches all of me. I’m real now. And he can feel that I’m a woman. Despite my super tight compression sports bra. It’s like allowing him to hold me means that I’m entrusting my body to his touch. For me, that’s intimate, and very very difficult.

So if I’m being hugged and I relax and I feel safe and start to fall asleep that means something. Because then I can feel how he feels and how I feel.

Today I felt, when Lima was touching me, that I still like him. I’m so tortured by that because I can’t have him and I need to stop letting him touch me because I need those feelings to go away. We’re Mormon. He’ll probably be engaged in another two weeks. It’s stupid to like someone in a relationship. Totally stupid. But love is madness.

❤ here’s to a wish that next week will be a good one for my doctors appointments, my eating disorder, and lots of fun sorting through “the catch” (men) in my life. ❤


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