I figured today would be a good day to start talking about Hawaii, my home state. It is my home in that I was born here, grew up here, moved away, and came back. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, to many places in Europe, to Africa, to other islands in the Pacific; but it always feels so good to come home. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And that’s the problem.
The problem with beauty is that for some, they can simply appreciate it and be grateful for having had the chance to enjoy it. For others, it sparks off deeper, darker emotions and they are inspired to own it, to keep it, to covet it. You see the entire panoply of human emotions with regard to this small place. There are power struggles galore and that will be explored in my novel trilogy, currently titled, “Deadly Hula Hands.”
For me, it took living on “the mainland” as we refer to the continental United States, to really understand how beautiful Hawaii is. I have distinct memories of being a child and it was a lovely sunny day, when we lived in an area called Lanikai, on the island of Oahu. My mother said “go out and play, it’s a beautiful day.” I remember being struck by that sentence, because everyday was a beautiful day. It was always sunny; it was always that way, what made that so special?
It took my first winter in Atlanta, Georgia of all places, with the temperature going down to 27 degrees at night, when I experienced snow for the first time in my life, when I finally understood. When that first, beautiful, sunny spring day arrived, you just wanted to be outside. Ah, so, that’s what my mother was talking about. Now I got it.
I also found myself having to explain that, “I’m from Hawaii,” because there was a lot of things I hadn’t learned about the mainland. I was working at CNN in Atlanta, waiting at the tape desk, and there was a large National Geographic map of the U.S. on the wall. I studied one of the smaller maps that showed a break down of population density and I was curious that there were so many people living around Chicago and the great lakes. I mentioned this to my co-worker, and she said, “well of course there are, didn’t you study about the Erie Canal and the transportation system when you were in school?”
I said, “No, I’m from Hawaii.” When I was in school we studied about the history of Hawaii, I learned about King Kamehameha the first, and the subsequent series of kings and queens that ruled the islands before it was annexed by the United States.
And because I was not born on the continent, whenever I travel there, I am reminded of how big this country really is. On my island of Oahu, it’s like living in a small town. You know where your boundaries are. In America, you can drive and just keep going. On Oahu, you can drive around the entire island in about three hours and there is nowhere else to go.
And as much as Hawaii is my home, I must also deal with the reality that I am not Hawaiian, in that I have no Hawaiian blood. My parents moved here from California before I was born. So, when people ask me where I’m from, I say I am from Hawaii. I never say I’m Hawaiian. And I also have a hard time saying I am an American, I am an American citizen, but I’m not a mom’s apple pie, born on the fourth of July, kind of American.
Have you ever been out here, to Hawaii? What was your experience like? If you haven’t been here, what do you know about the 50th state? I’d be very interested in what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.