Going to Hawaii feels like going home, only it still feels like vacation. Hawaii is comfortable, familiar and welcoming. As a home for people from many different cultures and as the main destination for tourists, Oahu always has a lot going on from live music, weekly fireworks shows, and cultural festivals, to name a few. And then there’s the food. (What place feels like home that has crappy food? Unless you normally have bad food at home. Sorry if that’s you.) Salty kalua pig, mac salad that is the perfect mixture of creamy, tangy, and al dente, my grandma’s refreshingly cool somen salad, sweet sunrise papayas in the mornings, toasty malasadas rolled in a crunchy bath of granulated sugar, a barely warm block of spam musubi at the beach, shave ice melting into a sweet mush of vanilla ice-cream, azuki beans, and syrupy goodness…the list goes on.
People are friendly, unpretentious. One morning I accompanied my grandmother on her daily run to the market and, like usual, she ran into an old acquaintance near the produce section. After talking for a couple minutes my grandma and I perused the display of apples and oranges, set up to look like a football field, complete with fans in the bleachers. The fruit on the “field” had pictures of peoples faces on them. We were laughing at the elaborate display of fruit when the man rolled his cart by and joked, “What, you looking for your face?” Anyways, I don’t think I really need to extol the virtues of Hawaii; they are already pretty apparent to most. But I do have a few other reasons reasons why I like it than the average tourist.
My dad is originally from Hawaii, so I have a lot of family there still. I always stay with my grandma, but this time got the added bonus of being there the same time as my uncle, who I hardly get to see. Matt and I had a lot of fun hanging out with him, and I must say (not that they weren’t fun before), it’s way more interesting hanging out with family when you are older and can actually carry a normal conversation. Mom and dad’s siblings are pretty cool. Hanging out with my grandma was nothing new, as I have been able to stay with her pretty much every year for the last six. The first time I stayed with her as an adult was when I studied at UH for the summer in 2003. I got spoiled with fresh breakfast waiting for me when I got up every morning, and became hooked on the Korean soaps she watches every night (more like telanovelas than American never-ending soap operas), which we would watch eating mochi icecream or while working on a crochet project. Almost six years later, we still watch the soaps. Matt joins in by default, though he does not crochet. Breakfast was hit or miss, and I usually just made my own, but there was still always a half of a papaya on the counter, waiting to be eaten.
with my grandma
In addition to family, we had fun seeing friends in Hawaii, most notably Matt and Sheila, an old roommate and friend from college. We did what we do best together, which is basically hang out and do nothing except eat, talk, and maybe the guys will share a beer or two… It just so happened that while we were hanging out with Matt and Sheila, we also got to finally meet their new son, Josiah (our god son!), for whose first birthday we were in town to celebrate. I made a chocolate cake for the occasion and we all had a good time watching the little guy discover the wonders of sugar.
Hawaii has been a really good transition for us coming back with a lot of familiar faces, places, and food, but still thrilling enough to feel “on the road” for a little bit longer