I jotted these words in my notebook on the plane yesterday flying home from O‘ahu as Diamond Head receded in the distance, clouds and water took over the view, and a lump started to form in my throat.
My mom and dad lived in Waikiki in the early 60’s, my dad working for the phone company after completing his stint in the navy and my mom having taken a teaching job on the island. Both were recovering from failed first marriages. They met, married, and conceived me. Nine months later, I was born in Maryland, the place to which they moved to raise a family in closer proximity to their parents.
Somehow, although I never actually saw the islands with my own eyes until I was nearly 30 years old, Hawai‘i is inside of me. Maybe it was the Hawai‘ian music my parents played in our house while we were growing up or the photos of my mom performing a hula in her beautiful mu‘umu‘u or their friends from the island who would visit us on the mainland every few years and tell tales of our parents’ courtship on O‘ahu, my dad making whatever excuses he could to be close to my mom.
Flying home tonight, I find myself in tears as I listen to the canned Hawai‘ian falsetto music on Aloha Airlines, the airline I continue to choose not because of its environmental policies (I actually have no idea what those might be) but because of the friendliness of their name and the chocolate chip cookies they bake an hour before landing. Hawai‘ian lyrics express a deep yearning and love for home. Hawai‘ian singing often sounds to me like crying. Right now, the sound expresses how I feel.
I am conflicted about my parent’s choice to return to this overpopulated, exploited, formerly-wild place, dominated as it is now with fast food restaurants, chain stores, and luxury hotels, bringing with them their love of Costco and Styrofoam dishes. (Styrofoam, by the way, is everywhere on this island, a fact which never ceases to take me by surprise, living as I do in the fairly Styro-free Bay Area.)
That said, I just want to express the deep love and appreciation I have for my parents and for this place, without which I probably wouldn’t exist. Mom and Dad had no idea what ripples they were sending out into the world when they joined together here. I’m just grateful that they did and that they are able to live the dream they had when they left over 40 years ago to return some day.
And as the lights of the San Francisco Bay Area come into view, I find myself missing Michael and our kittens and whatever it is we may be unknowingly creating in the world in this new place that we’ve chosen for our home.
What is home? Perhaps the yearning to return to my source is what pulled me as far as the West Coast from Maryland nearly 20 years ago. Maybe I’m just being silly and sentimental tonight. Still, maybe home isn’t a static place, but something that we are continuously creating as we live and make choices. And if we yearn for a home that is nurturing and caring, then we have to be the nurturing and caring that we seek. (Is that what this business of living without plastic is all about, after all?)
Okay, someone stop me now before I launch into Izzy Kamakawiwo‘ole’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I think I just realized why he recorded that sappy song.