I spotted a few older surfers, but most were young and deeply tanned. At an Internet cafe and surf shop, I tried a pair of size 34 surf shorts, which were way snug, leading me to conclude that my life has been a mainland, Banana Republic-inspired lie.
Lost in 'Lost'
Lawrence had told me to buy the shorts. Lawrence said you never leave home without surf shorts under your regular shorts. Lawrence is 40. When I told him, several days after we met, that I didn't know his last name, he said, "It's probably better that way."
Lawrence grew up in San Diego, is barrel-chested and has fading sandy brown hair. When he moved to the North Shore 16 years ago, he lived in a shack on the beach for $150 a month. Almost everywhere in the world I have traveled to stare at a medieval church or a baroque painting, he has traveled to surf. He met his wife on a surfing trip to Peru and now lives in a house in Diamond Head, near Waikiki. The Peruvian wife works for an accounting firm in Honolulu and dreams of Wall Street. Lawrence, who owns 20 surfboards, dreams of the next wave.
He drives a Toyota minivan that doubles as a taxi. I had learned that Lawrence was the unofficial "Lost" cabdriver. One night in Waikiki, he said, he picked up a bunch of "Lost" people, including series creator J.J. Abrams, and took them to a nightclub; since then he's become a kind of go-to guy.
"I can help you get lost," he said.
Instead, we got "Lost." I hired him for an afternoon, and we went to the Waimea Valley Audubon Center, formerly the privately owned, more-commercial Waimea Falls Park. The Audubon Society eliminated the Polynesian dancers and the cliff divers and reduced admission, making it a nature preserve, but you can still swim under the falls, in the same pool of water where, on "Lost," Kate and Sawyer found the briefcase with the guns and the cash.
Later we cruised over back roads, past the glider planes at Dillingham Airfield to Mokuleia Beach, where huge hunks of "Lost" jumbo jet fuselage used to reside on the shore and where the spot has resumed its previous existence as a good place to bring your binoculars and whale-watch.
I asked Lawrence to recommend a hike where I might get lost, as opposed to "Lost." The next day, I was winding into the hills opposite Pupukea Beach, past the turnoff for Puu o Mahuka Heiau State Monument (the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple that afford sweeping views of the coast), past large homes, past a farm with llamas and goats, until I came to a Boy Scout camp and a fence with a sign that read, "Warning: U.S. Army Installation. Authorized Entry Only."
Knowing that a character on "Lost" couldn't get on his cellphone and call Lawrence, I got on my cellphone and called Lawrence to ask him whether the sign was meant to be taken literally. A few minutes later, I was walking along a dirt road past a guy who said he'd just seen a mongoose. Then I made a hard left onto the Kaunala Trail, traversing a jungle path unlike any I'd ever seen before, except on "Lost."
It was 80 degrees on the highway; it was cooler in here, the world beyond the forest cut off by what likely were large ironwood trees. I was staring at plants whose names I wish I knew, climbing on rocks, down a steep slope and into a valley and across a stream, until I decided to turn back. Lawrence had said that if I stayed out too long, I'd probably need a flashlight to get back.
I emerged from the jungle two hours later, sweaty and dirty and disheveled. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and black Timberlands. I looked like a grip on a location shoot, which was probably why it was so easy, a short time later, to blend into the craft services line and have lunch with everybody who works on "Lost."
It was a fortuitous discovery: Coming out of the hike and back on the Kamehameha, I saw a sign that said "base camp" near Police Beach and parked a mile south of the sign, then walked past the Police Beach graffiti and some sketchy older beachcombers drinking out of 2-liter Pepsi bottles. I hiked back up the beach and cut through some thick brush.
Then, like a mirage out of the foliage, I came upon a gravel clearing and a row of huge trucks. The second thing I saw was the cast of "Lost." The actors were walking single file, at spaced intervals, to their trailers, led by the show's star, Matthew Fox, who plays Jack, a heroic doctor with an unresolved relationship with his alcoholic doctor father.
In the buffet line, the radiant Evangeline Lilly, who plays Kate, bumped into me and apologized; briefly, in the 2 1/2 seconds it took to remember she's an actress, I fell in love. Everybody seemed congenial. Finally, they all took a van to the location, maybe half a mile from the base camp. I walked.
In the scene they were shooting, Jack ran at another cast member, screaming the profanity-laced question, "Where were you, you !" and tackled him on the beach, at which point Jack was tackled by several other cast members. They did the scene; I thought it went well. Then they did the scene again. Because this is television, they did it still again. Equipment came and went. Between takes, somebody spritzed Fox's face with a spray bottle. He paced, away from the others, and I admired his focus.
In front of me, on a golf cart, was a memo from legal affairs at Touchstone Television, the Disney-owned studio that produces "Lost," reminding the cast and crew not to discuss aspects of the production with anyone, including family members, as they had initially agreed.
They did the Jack tackling scene again. A caterer arrived with a lovely tray of sliced melon, and I had a minor epiphany: I was staying at the Turtle Bay Resort. Which is on a bluff. Where at dusk you can watch the sun set while feeling the mist from the waves crashing beneath you into rock.