Happy May Day, which is “Lei Day” in Hawaii. The origins of Hawaii’s celebration of May Day as Lei Day date back to 1927, when Honolulu Star-Bulletin writer Don Blanding advocated for the creation of a day dedicated to honoring lei-making and the custom of wearing lei. Blanding’s co-worker at the newspaper, columnist Grace Tower Warren, suggested holding the celebration on May 1 and coined the phrase “May Day is Lei Day.” (HawaiiMagazine.com) Hawaiians stay busy trying to keep all the holidays straight such as King Kamehameha Day, Prince Kuhio Day, Statehood Day ( ironic, since Hawaiians didn’t want to be part of the States to begin with). Employers go nuts trying to decide whether employees should get Hawaii State holidays or Federal holidays off work.
So on this May Day, when I went to put my tennis shoes on this morning, I stuck my foot in without hesitation. I did not pick it up and turn it over, trying to shake out whatever critter might have made a home in there. Critter, meaning the lizard that one time, and the threat of centipedes, always. I have nightmares about sticking my foot in a shoe with a centipede in it. Don’t judge me till you’ve had one slither over your foot at the dinner table.
The reason for this shoe confidence is that I am in Northern California, not Maui. I’m here taking care of Mom after surgery. So I was reflecting this morning on some of the differences, so far away from home. Home being relative, because Northern California will really always be “home.” Home is where the family is, and this is where I spent a pretty happy 17 years.
Difference One: stuff dries here in this hot dry climate, unlike Maui’s hot humid climate. I hung stuff on the clothesline at 9 am this morning and it was totally dry by noon. In Maui that takes until 5 pm, and you’re lucky if it’s dry by then.
Difference Two: Allergies. California? Zip. Happy camper. Maui? Whoa. I really should buy stock in kleenex.
Difference Three: Seeing the apricot and peach trees setting fruit on the tree in Mom’s yard. I can’t wait for my first juicy tree-ripened apricot for the first time in years. Don’t ever bother buying a peach or apricot in Maui. You’ll be supremely disappointed. The papayas on the other hand, no contest. One time my stepdad and I decided to do a swap. He sent me a box of apricots and I sent him a box of papayas. We were really hoping they’d get through the post office, but I’m still waiting on those apricots and it’s been four years.
Difference Four: Heat. I’m always in CA in the wintertime (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Vog season in Maui) so I almost forgot what it’s like be hot, yet not sweat. I tool around all day without soaking through my clothes once. Bliss.
Difference Five: A completely different social life. It’s very hard to “break in” in Maui. I wondered why for a long time until my first Maui friend finally explained it to me: “the mainlanders move here and you get close to them, and then they break your heart by moving back. Most people don’t last two years. It’s happened over and over. After a while people just stop trying.” She also told me she’d lived in Maui for 20 years and had NEVER been invited over to someone’s house for dinner. This just made my head spin. Why?? I asked her, as she sat at my dinner table, her first dinner invite. “Food is very expensive here. Maybe someone will do a barbeque pot-luck, but a sit-down dinner, no.” Since I’d been the queen of the dinner party and brunch in CA, this blew me away. But it has held true. The thing I look most forward to when I get back to CA is getting invited over to my friend’s houses for dinner!
Difference Six: You can get your fashion on here! Women in Maui have no reason to dress up. It’s so casual you can wear shorts to the nicest restaurant, and I mean really, how many ways are there to wear a sundress? Jewelry is just hot and scarves are a joke. And the women all complain that the guys in Maui dress like dirtbags. Surf shorts and ratty t-shirts. When you live in Maui you can spot a tourist because they are dressed nicely. I can practically pick them out in Costco with my eyes closed. Expensive purses, matching ensembles, and nice jewelry (which they will then wear in the ocean and lose. People have metal-detecting businesses in Maui just to recover tourist’s jewelry.) It does get boring after a while that most everybody dresses alike in Maui. So I come to California and get my fashion on.
Difference Seven: Noise and Safety. Maui is so quiet.And safe. I truly love that. This part of CA is a cacaphony of sirens, the boom-boom-boom of car stereos, and even gunshots at night. I’m talking close by, too. Mike worries about me while I’m here. He’s afraid I’ll come home dead.
A hui hou! (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the right.