One of the earliest memories of my childhood, from the wee baby age of two, is that of my parents and grandparents leaving for a trip to Hawaii. Without me. It was 1979 and the memory is still crystal clear: on my parent’s old gravel driveway under the carport, I wove in and out of all the adult legs I could find, pleading my case for a tropical vacation while the grown-ups loaded suitcases into the old Volkswagen.
I was two.
They left me of course, even though I promised I could be super quiet on the plane, that I would sit completely still on my grandfather’s lap the whole way there. I promised I wouldn’t eat very much food, and proffered my deep love for the mysterious unseen land of Hawaii. I tearfully explained to my grandfather that if my little sister, my non-stop-screaming-brand-new-infant-sister was going to Hawaii with the grown-ups, I should be going too. I quietly vowed to him that I wouldn’t even cry at all.
My grandfather locked sad eyes with me as the car backed out of the long driveway, waving and honking as he and my grandmother, my parents and my screeching newborn sister headed for the Salt Lake City airport to catch their flight to Hawaii.
My grandfather never got over it. He and my grandmother spent the next 20 years telling me how much they regretted not taking me with them to Hawaii in 1979, how it broke their hearts the whole trip thinking about me and that, yes in fact, my baby sister did
cry wail screech like a howler monkey the entire vacation.
I never got over it. In fact, I spent the intervening 32 years of my life dreaming about Hawaii. Literally, dreaming about it at night. Imagining what it’s like in Hawaii. What the air tastes like, how the flowers smell, what the sand would feel like between my toes next to that beautiful ocean.
In fact in my last year of college, I took an anthropology class about all the Polynesian islands which only aided and abetted my obsession with that mysterious, fantastical, mythical place called Hawaii. It deepened my resolve to make it to Hawaii before I die:
Life List #6: Visit Hawaii. Stay in a hotel close enough to the ocean to hear the waves crash.
Last week I spent a brief 72 hours in Hawaii and my time there was made of magic and fairy dust and breathtaking sunsets over the ocean. The photo above is the view I had from the balcony of my hotel room at Turtle Bay. For realsies. I slept with my window open every night and was lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves. Hawaii is actually there you guys! It’s an actual place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! And it smells of gardenia mixed with green and ocean and beautiful.
Hawaii is exactly, EXACTLY the ethereal land of magic I’ve been dreaming of for 32 years, and that is no small feat.
The Hans Hedemann surf school helped me surf my first big wave, I snorkeled with sea turtles, kayaked above a coral reef, and learned to hula at the Polynesian Cultural Center. That’s not even all of it, but we can talk about the rest later when I’ve recovered from the fact that I’m still a white girl from Orem, Utah.
Hawaii please be my best friend. I’ll make you a bracelet and everything.