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.
When my husband and I were stationed in Okinawa, Japan, we thought that was beautiful (at least the parks were!!) and then my husband won a big time award with the Air Force and they sent us to Hawaii for ten glorious days. We stayed right on Waikiki beach with a view of Diamond Head from our hotel room. I was in awe of Hawaii from the moment we stepped off the plane. I loved every single thing about it. Hawaii is like Heaven on Earth!! How fortunate are to have been born there. I was born and raised in Maine. It has it’s own beauty but it is as far removed from Hawaii as it can possibly be. (sigh)
I’m so glad you enjoyed your time here, I hope you get to come back some day.
It’s very interesting how much where you are from shapes your perspective. Me? I could never live on an island because I am a wee bit claustrophobic. The thought of having to cross water in order to “get out” wouldn’t work for me except on vacation.
it is interesting, because when I go to the states, I freak out because it is so big and intimidating. I like being able to see the mountains and the ocean at the same time.
I’ve never been to Hawaii, but it’s at the top of my list of places to visit. I’m from the Canadian prairies, so we’re just heading into winter now. Someday, I hope to spend the winter in your beautiful state. 🙂
Sheila, I hope you make it, and I hope you stay nice and warm this winter.
I’ve never been, but I have a stack of post cards from my dad who has been a few times. 🙂
I’d love to go someday, it sounds awesome!
Coleen, if you ever go get out here, I’d be happy to be your tourguide.
I love this post and your perspective as a Hawaiian who doesn’t have Hawaiian blood. I’ve been to Hawaii a few times and it’s one of my favorite places. Jumping waves in the warm waters of Waikiki with my mom are some of my best memories. I read “Hawaii” decades ago and it’s a wonderful book, jam packed with Hawaii’s history. The last time I was in Hawaii was in ’08 with my husband. We stayed on Maui and took a tour van to the Seven Sacred Pools. Our guide told us all kinds of trivia and history about Hawaii. It was super interesting when he explained how the Maui Gold pineapples came to be, how the government gave ten years for the sugar and pineapple industry to become independent because they were no longer going to subsidize them. Amazingly the pineapple industry came up with the Maui Gold hybrid, which cut down the growth time for pineapple plants (to make a long story short) and enabled the industry to become successful. The sugar industry, however, failed and is pretty much history in Hawaii. There’s so much more. What a wonderful childhood, growing up in paradise.
One other thing I know about Hawaii is that the native Hawaiians, with the Hawaiian blood, aren’t too fond of tourists. Nope, not at all!
Thanks for posting, Hawaii has such an interesting history, and actually, no one really grows pineapple in Hawaii anymore, it is cheaper to grow it in the Phillipines. And wouldn’t you know it, our biggest industry is still tourism.
I got to go to Hawaii twice growing up on vacation. My family lived in Alaska at the time and it was an amazing difference. I remember sitting in the waves and thinking someone had spilled fruit loops in the water. I reached down and picked up a tiny sea urchin shell. I managed to collect about ten of them, unfortunate none of them survived all the different moves and rough childhood finger.
I thought I’d try to comment on the right post this time. lol But you know me, trouble seems to follow.
I’ve had the privilege of travel to Hawaii several times. I have stayed on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. And if my husband had his way we would be living on Maui. He is a sun worshiper and loves the place.
It’s been a few years since visiting and I thought it sad that all the pineapple plantations were gone. Yet you can’t escape the beauty of the Islands. I live on the southern California coast, but no competition girl. Hawaii has it hands down.
Have you ever thought of moonlighting as a travel agent? lol I’m ready to book a ticket! (Just jealous)
Thank you Rachel for expressing your affection for your homeland. And thank you for all your visits and comments. I appreciate your support.
We went to the big Island in 1983. what an incredible place to tour and visit and enjoy. In 1989, at christmas, we took our almost adult children to Oahu. We’ll never forget New Year’s Eve fireworks on the beach. amazing.
Late next January I am going with some friends to Maui. The excuse is to see Wayne Dyer but i’m due to enjoy the humidity and warmth and friendliness of the island again. I can’t imagine leaving such a beautiful part of the world.
thanks for the memories and the anticipation.
So what is the definition of a “mom’s apple pie, born on the Fourth of July American”?
Hi Rachel – funny you mention all the “sunny” days in Hawaii. Every time I’ve been there it rained. So much for sunny paradise. My illusions were shattered. Now, it didn’t rain all day mind you, but none-the-less, it did rain and spoil my perfect picture.
Hawaii is beautiful and unique and – well – expensive. It’s a place I love to visit, but don’t think I could make it my home. I like to roam more.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s always nice to share other people’s perceptions about things.
w/a Jansen Schmidt