New Kid on da Rock
Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.
Having a lot of leisure time is work. It’s a problem many people wish for.
- There is a guy who walks the streets of Kihei all day every day. He is decked out in dreads and black trash bags. I can only walk so much. One to two hours a day is enough for me.
- I can only work out so much. Three times a week for an hour of shallow water aerobics. The class is free at the community pool and has given me a scheduled activity.
- I can only sit on a beach so much. Sunset every night for one spectacular hour is adequate.
- I can only sleep so much. Nine hours.
- I can only read so much. Eight novels in four weeks. One of them, Goodnight Nebraska, was chosen randomly off the public library shelf. It describes a farm family in a fictitious small town located on the panhandle of Nebraska, thirty miles from my hometown. The author, Tom McNeal, must have grown up in that neck of the woods, or married a local girl. The characters are so realistic, I feel like they wandered out of my childhood and onto the pages of his book. Depression, monotony, starkness makes a compelling story, and reminds me why I chose to leave my back yard in The Heartland a week after my eighteenth birthday.
- I can only write so much. My novel simmers on the back burner.
- I can only drink so much. I rode my new bike up the hill to Maui Brew. The parking lot was jammed at 2:00 in the afternoon. I was shocked. Who are these people? Why are they drinking beer at two o’clock in the afternoon? Oh, they are People with leisure time on their hands. I ordered a good one, Hog Wild Stout. Dark, smooth and silky. Like a sow’s ear.
- I can’t stop thinking. So many hours to fill.
I remember a request to my former husband, “Please take them to church with you. I want one hour to myself.”
Once in a while he would comply. I watched as the three little cherubs climbed into the back of the old Honda Accord. They were clean scrubbed, dressed in their best, well cared for, and loved. I was in my early thirties and worn to a frazzle.
The kids carefully buckled their seat belts, as they had been taught, before the car backed out of the driveway. I pulled the living room shades tight, locked the front door, which was unheard of in Laramie, Wyoming, and ran a hot bath. My only wish was to be alone long enough to shave my legs.
On Sunday morning I was drinking coffee at Starbucks. While reflecting on the past, as a mom, as a daughter, as a person, a family of five sat next to me on the patio. The kids wore matching pink and white flowered sundresses. Perhaps they were on their way to church? The middle child was pouting about something in an adorable little girl way. The mom didn’t think her adorable. The youngest girl whirled and twirled, her skirt swirled around her. The parents weren’t watching as she giggled with glee. Dad stared intently at his cell phone. I wanted to tell him to pay attention, soon enough he would have all the time in the world to spend with his phone.
My eighty year old mother and her ninety-one year old husband live on their farm near a real town thirty miles from Goodnight Nebraska. She is a full time caretaker by choice. People step in to help out once in a while. Mom and her husband have lived in the area their entire lives and even though I was in a hurry to leave, I was reminded it is time to return, visit often, to pay more attention. Soon enough she will not be on the other end when I call.
The last month on Maui, being new to this place … again, has shown me what it’s like to be retired, alone, with limited social contacts, and no place to be. No thank you.
It’s a passing phase for me, in three weeks I’ll start a new job, in a new school, with new people. I will be a member of The Club. Rejoining the millions of people who have little leisure time to walk, work out, read, write or reflect.
I’ll make new friends, I’ll go to happy hour with them, and I won’t work so hard at doing nothing.
Independence Day in the state of Hawaii is an oxymoron.
As you know, Independence Day is a federal holiday celebrating the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress. The thirteen colonies established their independence as a new nation, no longer part of the British Empire.
As you may not know, 120 years ago, the United States of America supported a small group of wealthy businessmen and plantation owners, decedents of missionaries who married into land holding families. Their plan was to put Queen Liliuokalani under house arrest and overthrow the monarchy. Even though the U.S. government had recognized Hawaii’s independence, troops were used to complete the underhanded mission. One thing lead to another, and with the usual amount of double-dealing, back stabbing, political maneuvering Hawaii was eventually admitted to the union as the last state in 1959.
Many Hawaiian people are hurt and angry about it.
The design of Hawaii’s state flag is based on that of the United Kingdom. It is a reminder of the British Empire’s influence on Hawaiian history.
The Sovereign Hawaiian Nation waves an inverted state flag. On one of my beach walks, I saw the upside down flag on a pole in the back of a muddy 4x4. I asked, “What’s with the flag?” The local guy spat on the ground before he told me, “The Kingdom of Hawaii suffers.” I nodded and moved on. Clearly, he wasn’t in the mood for a heart-to-heart.
The thirteen colonies wanted independence from the Motherland, the Islands wanted independence from the Mainland, teenagers wanted independence from the Heartland, elderly couples want enough independence to stay on their farmland. A diverse group of independent souls.
There was a commercial fireworks celebration in Lahaina. I didn’t drive the two lane road to the Westside. Call me unpatriotic, but I didn’t want to be on the Pali with thousands of cars.
Local folks put on neighborhood firework displays. It’s legal to sell various explosives. Celebrations with family and friends were loud and late.
I thought about ways to celebrate my personal independence. I went for a walk, attended water aerobics class, read, wrote and reflected. An hour before sunset I headed to the beach with a glass of wine.
Then I shaved my legs.