Welcome Home to O’ahu

You know you live in the right place when you don’t want to leave.

That’s what I told myself as I slowed my pace while walking to my boarding gate at Honolulu airport.  I stopped on the walkway overlooking the courtyard below and inhaled the smell of the plumeria. I took in the colors of the trees and the sound of the wind before I shut myself into the enclosed boarding area. I didn’t want to go to California.

I was heading to a writing conference at USC, my alma mater. I was going to a place I love, doing what I love, and I didn’t want to leave the place I have come to love more – Hawaii.

Before I moved here, people told me the ‘aina (land) would either take me in or spit me out. I worried, especially after my bumpy arrival here. Hawaii isn’t like anywhere else I’d been. I needed to adjust.

So I did.

I learned to slow down, to listen to the land, the weather, the animals, the people.

I think of the mountains and how they slope into valleys and stretch out to sea. It’s like relaxing in a comfy lounge chair. I settle into the slope and breathe in the green around me, then gaze into the blue stretched out before me. Living here is soothing.

There are three places I feel connected to on this planet: one calls me back to its magic every few years; the second grips me and tells me I can’t leave because I have roots there and need to explore them: the third, O’ahu, welcomes me to the space it has made for me, and invites me to rest and take in its beauty.

Upon my return, I exited the airport and sat in traffic overlooking the industrial part of town. Even there, I felt the land welcome me home.

 

So You’re on Vacation…But We’re Not.

“You live in Hawaii? So you’re on vacation all the time. Lucky you.”

Friends assume we go to the beach all day, every day and listen to the surf while sitting under palm trees and eating pineapple and coconuts. Okay, maybe not that stereotypical, but life here is like anywhere else. We have jobs, commitments, social obligations, chores, you know, real lives, just like you.

Our past few weeks have been so busy we haven’t seen the ocean other than from our car while sitting in traffic on the H-1 freeway. We haven’t spent a day at the beach since last summer. We have a life. A good one, but it still has the same time commitments as everyone else.

Are you planning on visiting a friend who lives in a tourist destination? If so, remember that while you are on vacation, they are not. We’d love to take a day and show you the North Shore or go to the beach, but that would count against our vacation time. And while staying at our home, remember that we go to bed early because we to go to work in the morning. Or in my case, I work from home. Quiet, please.

In the evenings, we host book club at our homes. We have the boss over for dinner. We wait for the plumber who’s coming over at the end of his day as a favor to fix our water heater.  We go to the grocery store. We pay our bills. We answer e-mails and phone calls, some personal or confidential. Sometimes we want to plop in front of the TV in our pajamas and relax. We do the same things you do at night at home.

And as much as we love our friends, we have a lot of them. If they all stayed at our place, we’d never have a night to ourselves. And, again, we love seeing you, but we probably have family or other friends coming to stay with us after you leave. When staying with friends, ask yourself, “What will I do while the boss is over for dinner?” or “Where will I go when my friends leave for writer’s group or another commitment?” or “How long will I have to be out of the guest room that doubles as an office?” or “How much clean-up is there after I leave and the next person comes in?”

Staying at a friend’s house isn’t the same as staying at a hotel. Plan your adventures as if we weren’t here. You’ll need a rental car if you stay with us. There is no room service or late night cocktail on the beach here. There’s no shuttle to Waikiki. You are housekeeping in a home. (And be warned, sand gets everywhere!)

Let us know ahead of time when you are vacationing on Oahu. We’ll help you find a hotel and we’ll make time to see you. You’ll have a great vacation.

Note: If you are one of our teenaged nieces, nephews or godsons, none of this pertains to you. We know how honored to be should you grace us with your teenaged presence.

 

 

The Real Reason for Slippahs

Sunday and Monday we had heavy rain. The roads flooded. We were under Flash Flood Warning. Everything was wet. And I learned the real reason why everyone wears flip-flops (slippahs) here. I had thought it was because we needed shoes to wear to the beach that slipped off easily and could get wet.

On Sunday, I left a friend’s house and learned how to navigate in slippahs through flooded streets to my car. I was up to my ankles in water and sloshed through runoff filled with oil and gas slicks. Dirt, debris and a dead mouse passed by my slippah-laden feet. First thing I did when I got home was rinse off my cheap rubber flip-flops with the garden hose. Then I hopped in the shower to wash my grimy feet.

Monday I walked through a parking lot that turned into a river of water. I had assumed the lot was level, but the water came at me from left to right as I headed to my car. More debris, gas and oil slicks crossed over my feet as I slogged through seven inches of water, reaching my lower calf just below the hem of my capri pants.

How would it look to walk around Honolulu city streets in my San Francisco black waterproof boots with my pink and blue sleeveless dress or cotton capris? Remember, even though it was stormy it was in the high 70’s.

I’m going to buy more cheap slippahs this weekend.

 

Peacocks in Waimea

After two years here, we still haven’t visited a long list of island places. Oahu may be a small island, but there’s a lot to see here.

We drove to Waimea Valley for lunch. A few friendly peacocks joined us. The first one decided the truck in the parking lot should be his perch.

We ordered our lunch from the small cafe and sat among the grass, trees and flowers of the beautiful valley. The second peacock was hiding at first. Can you see him in the plants?

The peacock is camouflaged in the surrounding plants.

After a few minutes he strutted up to us, very self-assured and not fearful of humans at all.

Christmas in Waikiki

We met an old friend from college in Waikiki over Christmas week. Here are a few photos from that night. In how many places can one find a Santa scene made out of sand?

Sand sculpture at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel

Norfolk Pine Christmas trees at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Everything is pink at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, even this tree in the lobby.

Fresno State held their football rally at the Moana Surfrider hotel. The Aloha Bowl game was the next day.