…and we’re back.
On my sixth visit, I finally began to genuinely love Hawai’i. You might have a hard time believing that. What’s not to love, you ask. You’ve seen the postcards, the dashboard hula girls, the craigy blond surfers gliding down huge waves. Waikiki, Maui Wowee, wiki wiki, etc. Twee.
I was never that into island paradises. Especially Polynesian, and most singularly isolated. The Sandwich Islands (even the name) always seemed odd, overwrought, easily ignored, inconsequential. Biggest claim to fame was to be bombed, and to ride a board of wood down a wave. Kudos; check back when you’ve advanced the human race, son. When I first started visiting, I found the culture oddly introverted and unambitious (Is it an predictable yet unavoidable outworking of my Midwestern-American culture that I dismiss the people of Hawai’i as exotic, lazy savages?). The ocean’s relentless insistence at remaining visible no matter where I was greatly disturbed me. Switching from the Midwest, where the adequacy of a home is judged by how well it seals up and keeps the outside out, the construction of single-walled homes with jalousies beggar belief. (“How can it be all open like that…wait, why not? What happens when it gets col…oh, right, it doesn’t. Well, what about strong winds…right, none there either. What about the air cond…right, don’t need it. But in the winter when it gets…to 75 F, as opposed to summer’s 79 F. So let’s review, without tornadoes, hurricanes, severe storms, flooding, strong wind, winters, and summers…I suppose there is no need to seal your house up. And when the earthquakes come, there’s less to collapse onto you. Brilliant!”).
As a Midwestern kid, I’m into weather. More so than most. It’s not just a polite topic of conversation, it’s a lifelong education and always a variable when attempting to plan anything (like, when to wake up the next morning. Or whether to open the front door right now.). Case in point, last night I sent my brothers and sisters some awesome pictures of a classic low-pressure supercell as it moved across the Oklahoma panhandle in this May. I love supercells.
Slowly, I started to internalize bits of Hawai’i. The weather never deviates from perfect, but it changes all the time. The most spam per capita consumed, but any culinary culture that fearlessly combines Korean, American, and passion fruit on the way to making an apple pie wins my satiated respect.
You think the islands are all beach, but some of the most spectacular mountain and cliff hikes I’ve ever seen, let alone done, are begun (and sometimes ended) from there. More family-oriented than any suburb, but not a place which allows you to withdraw from society.
Also, falling in love with the place allows me to keep falling in love with my wife. And her food. Which to her is basically the same thing.