Saturday, January 24, 2009


Hawaii Bound

I've long had fantasies about going to Hawaii, and not just because it is supposedly a place where so many people look like me--it's from Hawaii that the term "hapa" originated, after all. When my husband invited me to tag along with him to Waikiki for a conference, I couldn't exactly resist.

For a number of years, flights to Japan always refueled in Honolulu. As my mother spirited me off to her magical country, I wanted badly to stop off in this place that kids in school were always bragging they had visited. In school, conversations generally took the form of an argument over which island was superior, while those of us who had never been to Hawaii stood and watched.

Once, while my mother and I waited in the airport lobby of Honolulu airport to be allowed back on the plane as it was getting gassed up, my mother found a tour group lining up to exit the terminal and board a bus (security was much more lax back then). She put me in line with her, and we both received leis, before ducking out of the line. She was thrilled--a free lei--and I begged to be allowed to join the tourists on their way to the beach. "We are going to Japan," she said firmly. I don't think I really believed she could have changed our itinerary, but then adults seem capable of nearly anything when you are small. The leis went with us all the way to Tokyo. I don't remember their ultimate fate, but I'm sure I was exhausted and unreasonable by the time we actually made it to Japan, and resisted being parted from the lei.

My father had visited Hawaii plenty as a child and young adult, and always spoke of Kuaii. He said he would take us some day. In the interim, I read up about Hawaii and what women wore, and went through my mother's closet trying to assemble the closest thing I could to a Hawaiian skirt. I went to the library, and read about flora and fauna, and constructed "Hawaiian flowers" out of paper and taped them to the hallway. I made my own jungle. My parents had a dinner party in the middle of my project, and I dressed up as "a Hawaiian" and explained that I had brought Hawaii into the house.

The closest I really came to visiting Hawaii was the "Joban Hawaiian Center" in Yumoto, Japan, a theme park built in an old coal mining town utilizing natural hot springs to recreate "Hawaii." I remember being in awe of the place, with its pools and flowers and ukelele music, though it was probably very kitschy. A film, Hula Girls, was filmed at the Center, and tells the story of two girls in the small coal mining town trained to dance the hula.

I've a Kaytie-annotated guidebook, the internet and a week to explore Hawaii. It's the first time in quite a while that I'll be somewhere new. I love going somewhere new.

Why am I not there?

So glad you're enjoying your first days! Have you had a Loco Moco for breakfast yet? (Probably not your thing. :) ) Have you had a Blue Hawaiian for me yet?
Um, I don't think I'm supposed to publicly say why you aren't here. But I wish you were! Eating loads of fruit and fish. You know how timely it is to be in paradise...
My question was mostly rhetorical.

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