Headed to Hawaii for ten days of family, sun and rum. Nearly two years ago, I boarded a plane to the islands, desperate to escape. As a Bon Voyage, I thought I'd share that Journal entry with you. Not sure what the Wi-Fi possibilities are where I'm going...so if there's a two-week silence, know that I'm still writing and shooting pictures and you'll be in the loop very, very soon.
Kaneohe, HI, at the foot of Koolau Mountains
I’ve decided to be a teenager again. Some 20+ years after my first pass through orthodontia and gawky limbs. This time I won’t be so surly and insecure, and I’ll have a better grasp of birth control. My parents lucked out; they won’t have to wait up for me when I break curfew, or give me a stern talking to when I eventually show up, red-eyed, tipsy, pulling at my sweater. Lenore, my cousin who’s the same age as me, she’s at the wheel this time. And she’s the coolest mom on the block.
For the first few days, I laid in bed, stricken with a chest cold, each breath sounding like plastic wrap being bunched up. Still, the company can’t be beat… every single episode of Sex and the City. I’m having my Fall Apart. Finally. The slow unraveling of a life that took 12 years to build and 8 months to dismantle. Divorce lawyers. Accountants. Judges. Every one took their bite. I look at what’s left, the pile of chipped wood and bent nails and know that they are familiar to me, that I should care more than I do, that I’m probably not thinking clearly or in my own best interest, that I’ll have to start over somehow. But I’m too tired. I stopped giving a shit some time back, when my husband, my love became a stranger, someone not to be trusted.
Each morning, my Tia Cora and cousin Lenore stand over my bed and worry.
“Think she’ll be alright?”
“Of course she will. Just needs time.”
“It’s all so sad.”
“Yeah well, life is sad.”
On the coffee table, my Tia always leaves the want ads from the morning paper, with promising jobs circled in magic marker. She wants me to stay. I can’t imagine leaving.
After a week, I emerge from the guest room and my cousin Tamara, who’s 18 and almost as lazy as I am, is grateful for the company. We sleep late, go to the beach, boogie board, oil our tans, eat lunch at Zippy’s, shop at the mall, watch TIVO under the air conditioner, do chores, eat dinner, watch DVDs. Rinse. Repeat.
Lenore keeps a tight rein, though. In the mornings, I find a note taped to the refrigerator listing my chores for the day. Unload dishwasher. Sweep porch. Wash bathroom towels. Defrost turkey. Bummer. Turkey for dinner. I hate turkey. Turkey’s gross. On a separate note, she includes my week’s appointments – dates and times. Dentist. Haircut. Yoga class. For breakfast, she’s set out a bag of bagels and a jar of peanut butter – my favorite, not-so-chunky – plus a multi-vitamin so I’ll grow up big and strong. This one has extra calcium for women my age.
At Kailua beach, Tamara and I watch the Navy Seals in their board shorts and broad shoulders dive for the sand in a furious game of volleyball. When a loose ball lands on our towel, they ask if we want to join in. We giggle, but demure. Time to flip. Can’t start school with an uneven tan.
In the heat of the day, we go shopping. Slip on tiny denim skirts over bikini bottoms, tuck plumeria flowers behind our right ears, slick on some lip gloss and we’re good to go. At Neiman-Marcus, we try on all the wide beach hats, purse our lips together and pose. Snap pictures of each other with our cell phone cameras. The snooty sales lady asks if we need help. We roll our eyes and head for the door. We can’t afford Neiman-Marcus. We’re on an allowance. When Tia Cora dropped us off at the mall, she only gave us $20 bucks for snacks. But wait…I have a Platinum Card! Awesome!
At Sephora, we sample the blue and green eye shadows, spritz perfume on our brown arms, and argue about the virtues of different mascara wands. “How do I look?” Soooo cute. Then we head to MAC and practice our eye lining technique. Soooo rock and roll. As we stroll through the mall, I get a call from home. A mucky-muck calling to see if I want to be Marketing Director for UNM’s Cancer Center. “Dude, I’m in Hawaii. On summer break. Can’t talk right now catch you later bye.” Tamara cuts me a look, “That sounded important.”
“Not so much,” I say, tugging at my teeny tiny skirt. “Like I want to report to some asshole. Whate-v-e-r.”
At home, we toss the shopping bags on our unmade beds and collapse, exhausted, in front of the TV. If we’re hungry, we eat leftovers -- laulau, ahi poke, pupus, siamin. Or chocolate covered graham crackers. With our legs draped over opposite sides of the sofa, we ponder important life questions. “So why do you think gummie bears are bears? Why aren’t they lions or penguins? Why bears?”
It’s easy to lose track of time here on the island so when we hear the garage door open, we know we’re busted. We haven’t done our chores. Plus, there’s a pile of wet towels on the bathroom floor. And a sink full of dirty dishes. The poor dog is howling from hunger. Mom has every right to be angry; she’s had a long, rough day negotiating world peace.
Lenore’s got top security clearance – which means she can get us into all the private military beaches on the island -- and her boss is a 4-star general who reports to the Joint Chiefs. In the world of security policy, she’s The Shit. A civilian surrounded by colonels and majors, her secretary is a petty officer, a guy who salutes and calls her Ma’am. Cool, huh. I’m quite sure she’s the only female Hispanic, Chinese, Hawaiian who does what she does. And she does it in snappy high heels, expensive suits and silk shirts. We love Mom. She’s a class act.
So when she storms in and tosses the groceries on the counter, Tamara and I scramble. Mom is tired; world peace didn’t go so well today. “I can’t believe you girls laid around all day.” We wash the dishes, fold the laundry, vacuum the living room, and start supper. Friends of the family are coming over, Lenore’s Cheech and Chong friends from high school. Tamara takes off with her boyfriend; Kamiele finishes her homework so I check it, read her a story then put her to bed. Finally, us five adults take our wine, sit out on the Lanai next to the fishpond and wonder when the Monsoons will hit.
I love summer break. I love the ocean. How will I ever return to the desert?