It happened. I knew it would, and it finally did. It hit me while I was watching Lilo and Stitch with Gabriel....I miss Hawaii. MAN, I miss Hawaii! When I left, I never thought I would (how stupid of me--of course I would!). That's probably because, like any place on earth, Hawaii has it's ups AND downs....when I left all I could think about were the downsides and how glad I was to be leaving them behind. But now I miss it.
Hawaii is what a lot of people think of it as - an island, a tropical paradise, sandy beaches, beautiful scenery, amazing waves, good music and great food. Those are the things that I miss. I miss being able to go to the beach any day of the year and never having to drive more than ten or twenty minutes to get there. I miss playing with Lily and Gabriel in the sand and looking for sea shells at the north beach at K-bay. I miss the beautiful scenic drives up the east coast of Oahu. I miss being able (and expected) to wear flip flops (or, as the locals call them--"slippas") every day. I miss the shopping, eating, relaxing....almost anything you can do here, you can do there....but there it's completely different.
I remember walking home from the bus stop after work every day and thinking to myself "Do I really LIVE here? HERE, where plumerias litter the ground and the air smells like flowers pineapple, mango and papaya? Where there's always music that can be heard and a pig roasting nearby? Really? Wow...I do." I remember watching little geckos scatter and scurry away with every few steps I took. I watched little old Asian and Polynesian ladies water their hibiscus bushes while their husbands sat in patio chairs chatting with neighbors. In less than five blocks, I would see more colors and flowers and fruits than I could keep track of. There was a pole with fish tails nailed to it that I never quite figured out....why would someone do that? What an extraordinary place.
We lived in a nice little neighborhood though. There are definitely some parts of the island that are not so peaceful and picturesque. There are ghettos and homeless people and meth addicts - that is the drug of choice on Oahu. That and marijuana. But no one bothers the weed smokers because weed smokers don't bother anyone. It's sad to see the meth addicts camped out in Honolulu and Waikiki. There are a bunch on the Northwest side of the island as well. I mean, they're all over but they are more concentrated in some areas.
This brings me to some of the down sides of Hawaii (or at least Oahu). Everyone told me I was crazy or stupid for ever complaining about Hawaii. Well, those people have either never been there or they have only gone for vacation. To those people, I say shut it--you have no idea what the hell you're talking about. People go to Hawaii and most of them never leave Honolulu/Waikiki. They have NO IDEA. And those who do venture out usually do so on a tour bus. Way to be adventurous! -.- Most people who have visited Oahu haven't seen near as much as they think they have. They, of course, go to the touristy spots and see what everyone else sees. And I say two things: "Good for you!!" and then, under my breath "You poor saps--you paid all that money and didn't even see the best parts..." But that also means they didn't necessarily see the worst parts as well. When your entire experience of Hawaii is at your hotel and the beach it sits on, you are two things: stupid and lazy--but at least you're on vacation! When the other part of your visit is spent at various locations on the island that you traveled to by tour bus, you still have no room to say that you experienced the island. So again, shut it.
Oahu is crowded. It's a tiny island with TONS of people. The traffic can be horrendous (it once took my mom and I two hours to travel ONE mile on the freeway) and the parking is even worse. Almost every space (if there are any available) is made for a compact car and there are all kinds of inconsiderate jerks who think it's okay to park their hummer there. Most of those inconsiderate jerks are rich mainlanders. (Screw you guys, by the way.) The rest are just rude islanders. (Screw you guys too.) The population can pretty much be divided into five chunks: Polynesians, Asians, military personnel, tourists and "mainland transplants". If you live there and are not one of the first two groups, good luck! Prejudice and racism are hit and miss--there's a 50/50 chance that the "locals" you come across may not treat you very nicely or may try to rip you off if you're not one of them. If you're a tourist...well, you're probably just going to always be ripped off and everyone's going to be nice to you either because they really are just nice people, or they're being fake because you're a tourist and you're contributing to their great state's most profitable industry.
The banks don't have drive through windows and all of the streets are ridiculously narrow. If you miss your appointment for ANYTHING (Dr, hair stylist, court, WIC, etc.) you're going to have to take the next available one, which is in six weeks. If it wasn't grown or made in Hawaii, it costs three to five times as much as it would on the mainland (don't EVER call it "the states" - you might be assaulted). For example: In Utah, six dollars might get you one mango. In Hawaii that would buy you at least a pound or two--maybe three. Conversely, in Utah you can get ten packages of Ramen Noodles for a dollar. In Hawaii you can get five for two dollars if you have that grocery store's discount card. In Utah, a can of baby formula costs twelve to fourteen dollars. In Hawaii, that same can would cost you twenty-five to thirty dollars. This is all because everything has to be imported. The only way to catch a break is to join the military and shop at the exchange/commissary.
It's not hard to tell that I was definitely ready to leave my Hawaii experience behind me when I finally caught my flight for the mainland. GOOD RIDDANCE!! I was ready for some chilly fall weather and snow! Perpetual summertime gets old fast and eventually becomes boring and exhausting and...well...HOT. And don't even get me started on the humidity! (in your worst nightmare, you still wouldn't have to pay more than my parents do every month for electricity to run the AC in their house)
I kept saying "Hawaii was nice in a lot of ways, but I never want to go back. Ever." I hope Hawaii can forgive me, though, because I really want to go back and visit (ONLY to visit. I still would never want to live there again.) The Hawaiians have a tradition where they scatter flowers or a lei over the water before you leave. If they reach the shore again, that means you will return to the island as well. Mine did. I guess I always knew I'd go back.
Like I said before - I really miss the beaches and the smells and the beautiful views and the nice people (there really are a LOT of super nice, awesome, hospitable people there) and the amazing food. We're saving up so we can go back and visit my family for Christmas this year. I can't wait to be a tourist! Paradise Cove Luau, here we come!
[Photos copyright Summit Images 2010]