From Tahiti:

Dignitary, no. Prom queen, no. I’m just a photographer leaving the Tahitian island of Maupiti after being adorned in heis (Tahitian for leis) from the locals I met while following their va’a (outrigger canoe) team. The afternoon of my departure, while I’m packing and getting some last-minute shots, my friends come, one by one, to say goodbye with the heis they made that morning. Riding up the street on a bike is my new 90-year-old Tahitian grandma with a hei in her basket. She gives me a kiss on each cheek and then places the hei over my head. We exchange a mishmash of words that neither of us can understand beyond the power of our smiles and twinkles in our eyes. As the plane departs, I stare at the turquoise lagoon before counting how many Tahitian flowers I’m wearing, wondering if I can get them through customs.