Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Getaway Day"

The ballplayers call it “Getaway Day.” The day they leave one town to move on to another. Today is “Getaway Day” for our family. We’re moving on to Hawaii. Not to our regular place. Someplace on Maui. I’ll tell you about it sometime. Maybe.

As disgusting as this sounds, especially during the “chilly season”, there are times when Californians become so…ungrateful, they start thinking of places that are nicer than California. Suddenly, California’s not good enough. We need someplace warmer and more tropical. (This inexplicable condition can befall anyone living here, but it’s most prevalent among people who were born in California. People who have never experienced winter.)

Immune to how ridiculous Californians sound to people who, for six months of the year (or more), are condemned to shovel mountains of snow off their driveways (with new snow falling while they’re doing it), Californians hunger for a spot with better weather, whiter beaches, greater natural beauty and a sparklier ocean.

Believe it or not, that place actually exists.

It’s called Hawaii.

What California is to the rest of America, Hawaii is to Californians. Hawaii is the one place Californians can go to where the rhythm of life is even more laid back.

You get the message the moment you land at the airport, and head down the open-sided corridor towards “Baggage Claim.” Your nose gets the word first, and it immediately spreads it to the rest of you. What’s the message?

You’re in a different place.

It’s the soft and scented breeze. It smells like flowers. Flowers that only grow in Hawaii.

America’s history with this tropical paradise is definitely…um, not our finest hour. I saw this documentary on PBS once, explaining how Hawaii became U.S. territory. One night, the United State navy landed on Oahu, ostensibly to protect the American citizens living there. The American citizens themselves were unaware of any danger.

The American military told the Hawaiian queen, Liliuokalani, they were there to protect her as well. After checking out the window, the queen turned to the military people and inquired, “If you’re here to protect me, why are all your guns pointed at my palace instead of away from it?”

This was clearly a rhetorical question, since there is no known recorded answer.

Because of these events, from our very first visit when they were young, I’ve instructed our children to say quietly to every Hawaiian they encounter, in a sincere and respectful tone:

“I’m sorry we took your island.”

I want Hawaiians to know we know. And that if it were up to us, it would never have happened.

(By the way, here’s what we did with the place. A few years ago, on a visit to Maui, an island of spectacular natural beauty, my daughter, Anna, broke her retainer. When Dr. M, who’d be driving her to the orthodontist’s office, asked for directions, she was told, “Turn left at the K-Mart and right at the Jack-in-the-Box.)

Hawaii offers fantastic aquatic opportunities, from windsurfing to snorkeling to riding the gnarliest waves on the planet. Our family enjoys none of these opportunities. Instead, every day, from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, we relax on lounge chairs and do nothing. (See: The last two postings.)

When we get bored, we get up, walk to the edge of the ocean, and allow the tide to lap against our ankles. Then it’s back to our lounge chairs, and still more nothing.

Once, I went to the hotel bar, intending to order a Pina Colada, but mistakenly ordering a Mai Tai instead. Mai Tai’s are exponentially more potent than Pina Coladas. But since I’d already ordered the Mai Tai, and it cost seven-fifty, I drank it anyway. Why am I telling you this story? Because it’s the most exciting thing that ever happened to me in Hawaii.

I could go on and on about this tropical paradise, but when you write about Hawaii, you’re reminded of the easygoing, “hang loose” spirit and, well, you don’t feel like writing anymore. And then, you don’t feel like thinking anymore. And then…(BIG STRETCH, ACCOMPANIED BY A YAWN)…you know what?

I think I’ll go take a nap.

Mele Kalikimaka, everybody.

That’s “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian.

And Haoli Makahiki Ho.

That’s Happy New Year. (Though is does sound a little Peewee Herman.)

Holiday Posting Schedule:

No Postings: Thursday, December 25th, and Friday December 26th (Boxing Day, for those who box.) Also, no postings Thursday, January 1st and Friday, January 2nd.

Really Good Postings: Monday, December 29th.

Tuesday, December 30th.

Wednesday, December 31th.

Back in the Saddle Full Time: Starting Monday January 5th.

I have left three postings for your enjoyment. I don’t know how to do this when I’m away. I call these postings shticklach (small pieces). They’re kind of like bookmarks, so there’ll be something for you to read. They won’t be about my trip, because I wrote them before I went. Although if I wrote about my trip before I went on it, that could be really interesting.


Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful vacation! I am so jealous. We had a horrid snow storm last night in Toronto. This morning my walk was all slush with speeding cabs splashing past and wadding pools at every corner. Yuck and more yuck. Your itinerari of doing nothing sounds just like heaven!

Andrew Orenstein said...

I shouldn't have read this on the day I head to Toronto. Have fun and see you in the new year.


MikeThe Blogger said...

Earl, have you read my Big Island (Hawaii) blog? You might find the Big Island less inundated with KFC and WalMart.