Visits home are like delicious medicine, oranges for a cough, mint tea for a bummed-out belly. This trip was no exception.
Gramma always wakes up to oatmeal, half a papaya, and Sunrise on Hawaii News Now. I join her in the kitchen, squeezing in every minute I can with her while I’m back.
It’s not a bad morning news show, I think, and by the end of it, I’m well impressed. Not for the on-screen small talk, or the riveting headlines, but for the closing music. Today, Salt n’ Peppa’s “Push It,” an elementary school fave. The next day I hear a Foster the People song fresh off an album I just received from my music PR connects in London. OK, pretty good stuff, guys.
The first day home, I always cruise around Ewa by foot, walking or jogging, and take a visit to my Aunty’s house on Ewa Beach Road. She died a few years back, on New Year’s Eve … so this was a particularly nostalgic day.
Walking down a dusty Fort Weaver Road, gravel crunching under my feet, across the way I spy Pohakea Elementary. Where I skinned my knee on the asphalt walkway, and ran for School Secretary. Now, as ever, the sprinklers just barely reach the pink and red Hibiscus bushes, the rest of the water leaking aimlessly around the tap. The heat of the sidewalk rises up from the water, its distinctive smell mingling with the fresh-cut grass down the way.
Mynah birds chirp away. Boys ride beach cruisers down the road. Across the street, my old library, where I spent most of my after school hours, when I wasn’t snapping archery cords on my forearms, or trying to avoid running in tennis class.
That big blue library (though it was beige back then) was the perfect haven from the heat – and stupid people. Worlds away from the playground, whole galaxies awaited me on those shelves, and I’d carefully select one … or four … and cuddle up on a big soft chair for hours.
Life took on a new level of excitement when the media center opened its glistening glass doors. Here we pressed our very own words on our very own buttons, igniting our very own revolutions weekly. “Pohakea 4Eva!” Or sometimes, pronouncements of self-defining catch phrases like “2 Legit 2 Quit!”
Cutting across the old park, where afterschool beefs attracted the morbidly curious, I feel I’m floating above ground. Like I’m not really here, or I never really left, I’m not sure which. Is this really the same old neighborhood where I’d get slushies at the 7-11 and catch lizards after school?
It’s not hard remember the thrill of getting on a bike and riding with my neighborhood friends to Silva Store, or catching the bus all the way to Pearl Ridge to hang out at the mall (because surely, this meant I was a grown up!) But is this really the beach where I learned to boogie board, and one day, nearly drowned? I always knew it was beautiful, but for some reason, this time, even under the clouds, it shines.
It’s the same as it was 25 years ago, with a few more fancy housing developments and a much-needed Boys and Girls Club … but there’s something different about it, or maybe about me. Maturity, appreciation after having lived in the Middle East, maybe even just a touch of sentimentality, but I couldn’t be happier to be back …