They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And so I try to give you pictures
But there are some moments so sublime, so fraught with incandescent beauty, that no picture can begin to capture the depths and layers of wonderment, the euphoria felt with every sense, and ever fibre of your being.
That is what words are for. To work with the pictures to convey a brief, shadowy semblance of the actuality of such moments. A fragile simulacrum in palest pastel scents and colours.
For me, visiting Hawaii, visiting home, is one of these moments of perfect euphoria after another, the feeling of rightness and perfection only heightened and illuminated by the obvious imperfections of the place, the human flaws that make it interesting.
This is my simulacrum for you, my attempt to replicate an assemblage of moments so vivid, so saturated with scents and sounds and textures and colours, that your very soul smiles.
You fly into my parents island on a little plane: 8 or 12 passengers who laugh and joke together and introduce themselves to anyone who they don’t recognise. On this trip I am joined by a wealthy retiree, a businessman and his grandson, and a family who spent the week on Oahu doing shopping before the new school year starts. The businessman and the retiree chat, comparing notes on purchases and business deals. The businessman had a meeting on Oahu but is going home to enjoy the relaxation of our island. The grandson has come to help him do heavy yardwork. So much for relaxation.
The plane heads off from Honolulu airport, turning over Pearl Harbour and heading out past Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, and then across an ocean of sparkling water cut with boat tracks and painted with the rise and fall of waves and the silent roar of tidal pulls.
The flight approach to my parent’s island is over the dry western beaches, flying low over pastures of tall grass and groves of dry kiawe and haole koa trees, the greens and browns rent with gullies of raw red earth, spilling the soil into the perfect blue of the sea. White sandy beaches alternate with jagged rocky headlands along the coast, until the land levels out, and mangrove swamps take over the coast.
The airport is fringed by farmland, a quilt of corn and alfalfa, weeds and sweet potato. Tall norfolk pines mark the boundary of the landing field, softening the forbidding fences that mark the government’s attempt to tame and regulate the rebellious soul of the island.
My mum usually picks me up at the airport, waving to me from the wire gate as I collect my bags as they come out of the plane, right there onto the tarmac. I trundle the last few metres laden with all my suitcases crammed with presents, eager to unburden my arms of the detritus of my city life, to fill them with hugs, and to go home.