Back in the day when Emma Lazarus’ “huddled masses” braved dangerous ocean crossings to make a new life in America, they would go on to reference “the old country”, be that Italy, Ireland, Poland or what have you.
It’s certainly easier now. This past Tuesday it only took about 16 hours to redeem a “free” air miles ticket that meandered from Ottawa to Washington D.C., to San Francisco. And finally, on to Kahului, Maui. Journey’s end was an intensely busy intersection and bustling tourist hub: Paia, a former sugar plantation town.
Hawaii counts as my “old country”. Canada is our big adventure in a new land. Having moved so very far away, I try to get back to see the folks when I can. A luxury immigrants in past centuries had to live without.
I’d not been following much news in Canada before and during my long travel day. Wouldn’t you know it, lots of stuff was happening.
Funny thing about the news world. One can live in that 24/7… or pull back. And stepping away from all that fuss calms life down considerably. I suppose a news-oriented station may not be the best place to ruminate about the stress of following too much news. But it’s true. Things certainly seem more tranquil outside that milieu. (In this case I speak merely as a news consumer. It would be quite a reach to call me a hard-hitting, stress-courting reporter!)
Wednesday was go to town and do errands day in the island’s commercial cities of Kahului and Wailuku. Jiggle the old bank accounts to keep them from becoming inactive. Pick up the police report for the minor (but quite annoying) burglary the other week at my father’s office. Try to find the old-fashioned staples Dad has used up (the “undualted” kind). No luck there – the big box office stores that bought the old Mom & Pop stationary store don’t carry those anymore. Maybe they can be ordered on line. Get some groceries and fill the car with gas. You know, the mundane details of ordinary life.
I phoned ahead to the Maui Police Department to find out what I had to do to get those report forms released to a second party. The woman at the other end muttered “I hate it when the crooks steal from old people!” She went out of her way to be sure the photocopies would be ready as soon as I came that morning. Once there, she had a ‘you-look-familiar’ face. We realized we’d been on the high school track team together back in the 1970′s.
My Mom came along to chat and help me find things that had moved since I departed Maui for Honolulu, in the early 1980′s. That included the police station, which is no longer across the street from the Wailuku Library. It’s been below the hospital and across the road from my old high school for quite some time now!
It’s warm here. No, make that hot. Upper 80′s. Sunshine mixed with passing showers. Confession time: I’ve come to realize I actually prefer slightly lower temps. On the remote chance I would live on Maui again, I’d prefer to try that “upcountry” on the slopes of Haleakala, where it’s cooler the higher you go up that 10,023′ mountain.
Back to errand day. At CostCo I got more aloha shirts, as my husband always requests. I was amused to see other local-food staples like long rice noodles. (What? Your CostCo doesn’t sell aloha shirts and long rice noodles? What? Hawaii has CostCo but northern New York does not? How odd.)
What always staggers me about these trips is the duality of being from one place and now being very much part of another.
It doesn’t take long at all to feel “at home” here once more, even though I now call someplace totally different home. It also doesn’t take long to remember why I was only too happy to leave Maui. Not that I’m particularly brainy, but “brain drain” makes young people abandon many small places for all sorts of reasons.
Same planet, different universes.
A fair number of people in the North Country live split location lives. For my comrades with a foot in two or more worlds, what seems most striking about it all?
Does it seem comfortable and familiar, to live in different settings? Or surreal?
Am I a Maui girl dreaming she lives in Ottawa, Canada? Or a new-Canadian, dreaming about life in Hawaii?
Or am I a mere butterfly – dreaming it all?