Dreaming of Hawaii in all its Red, White, and Blue Paradise-Self

It is finally a sunny morning here in New York City, the city of lights.  Night lights, that is. I am staring out my window wishing, hoping for a hot baking sun warming up my arms and shoulder.  Nature’s very own heating pad for pains, aches and sore muscles.  In combing through my old-school photo albums (not electronic but the real hard copy deal), I come across my hundred photos or so of Hawaii. Just looking at the photos, I get a warm tingling sensation down my arm. It very well could be the Icy Hot cream I have lathered on, but I will go with the idea that looking at Hawaii produces a natural euphoric reaction. Ah, Hawaii, my happy place. Whenever I am feeling down, I try to imagine myself bathing in the Hawaii waters under a hot, blazing sun while sipping a Lava Flow cocktail.

In three weeks, should I get better, I will be back in Hawaii. Hell, even if I am not better, the white sandy beaches, beautiful deep blue waters and red sunsets of Oahu, will go a long way to curing what ails me. So, off to Hawaii I go at the end of this month. I am heading down there to work–do a couple of presentations at the American Psychological Association– and to also bask in the glory of  what serves as paradise on Earth. If you have never been to Hawaii I truly urge you to go some day. Put it on your bucket or other type of wishlist.

I have been to Hawaii four times already and each time I have learned something new. I love the mixed plate dish which represents the diversity of Hawaiians.  I love the leis and hulas. I even made a few pilgrimages to the coffee plantations. Ah, sweet, sweet kona. Caffeine! I have been on the road to Hana, zigzagging a narrow lane on which there is somehow bi-directional traffic. I have climbed Diamond Head. I have sipped Mai Tais at 9am. No judgment, ok? I have done the sunset dinner cruises and despite extreme sea sickness managed to have a fabulous time. I even got to see Don Ho perform tiny bubbles, before he died. My mom, I fondly recall, was so thrilled at my Hawaiian adventures because she often daydreamed of Tom Selleck running in those short shorts. You know, the ones from Magnum PI.

For over a decade, I have dreamt of moving to moving to Hawaii. But the cost of toilet paper is a bit of a deterrent.  In other words, cost of living is astronomically high. But if you want, I suppose you can just live in a RV, but toilet paper is till costly. Hawaii, as the 50th state to join the union (did so in 1959), has a special vibe to it.  Many restaurants have menus that are both in English and Japanese, as a nod to the huge tourism industry. You do see these types of bilingual menus in many countries but rarely in any restaurant in mainland USA – other than “ethnic” centered restaurants.  Hawaii is the only US state surrounded completely by water. So, if you suffer from tsunami phobia, you may want to reconsider going. Although, I would just advocate that you stay in Oahu in a hotel off the main coastline drag.  By the way, there appears to not be a specific term for fear of tsunamis but we can say antlophobia (fear of floods) or aquaphobia (fear of water), if that captures your worries.

If I were indeed to move to Hawaii, I would be joining a not-so-small, vibrant Hispanic community. In Hawaii, Hispanics are 9% of the population, and I have a feeling that is growing. In 1899, Puerto Ricans began migrating to Hawaii to work the sugar cane fields. Yum, sugar. mojitos…oh, sorry my mind wandered.   Did you know that 24% of Hawaiians classify themselves as multi-racial? What a paradise it would be for my multi-racial family. There is also a large Filipino community, whereby many restaurants have menus boasting both Asian and Spanish cuisines. Fooood! Yum.  Back to the mixed plate lunch special. How cool is this? The special consists generally of two scoops of white rice, gravy (sauce), macaroni salad, and meat/egg (a protein).  That special plate totally reminds me of the dishes of my childhood.  Speaking of childhood and Hispanics, in Hawaiian mythology there exists the Aumakua, a spirit representing one’s ancestors. I feel so drawn to Hawaii, that part of me believes my ancestors went over there in 1899. Why else would I love sugar, caffeine, papaya and pineapple so much?  Yes, I know they are all gloriously wonderful.   Anyway, the Aumakua can manifest in various forms of nature and animals. Based on my mom’s love of owls I think our Aumakua would be so.

Besides being a social psychologist that writes about zany work antics, many of you know, I also love to go legend tripping (see my post on the Kentucky Pope Lick monster if you are so-inclined). And, let me tell you, Hawaii lends itself quite well to such a legend-tripping endeavor. There are many stories of ancient warriors and green ladies haunting paths, schools, government buildings, and plantations. As a child I was often afraid of loud drumming noises. To me it signaled angry spirits were on their way. I blame that on my mom’s version of Puerto Rican tales of the dark that she would gleefully share with me. In Hawaii, there are Banyan Trees that are said to contain old spirits. One such Banyan Tree on the path of Manoa Falls is said to hold the spirits of angry warriors marching forth to the sounds of beating drums. While I am flashing back to my scary nights of childhood, I am still curious to seek out this path. Off to Manoa Falls I will go. Wish me luck on that one.

So, there you have it.  Hawaii is the quintessential day dreamer’s lair. It is beautiful, warm, inviting and lush with cocktails, sugar and sand. You can go hiking, sunbathing and ghost hunting.  Afterwards, you can get your fill of caffeine and international cuisine. It is my definition of paradise. And, I am counting the days to my return trip.

Oh, to dream and to live the red, white and blue of Hawaii.

PS: Happy Fourth of July!

2 replies »

  1. It’s fascinating to read how you see and feel about Hawaii. My perspective is so very different. I was born on Oahu and raised on the Big Island and Maui- where I remained as an adult -raising my 2 kids as a single mother. I knew I had to find a way to move away from Hawaii to have any hope for a better life. My fixed income on disability was $612 a month. And $200 in food stamps. Just covering rent, phone, electric left me 100 short. That doesnt count car gas, water,and non food goods. Food stamps? $8 for a gallon of milk. 6 for a loaf of bread. Stake was $19 for a small one. $200 covered a single small shopping. Welcome to the land of poverty. My life was focused only on survival. Every day trying to think up ways to generate enough money to make ends meet- without getting caught because over there – your not allowed to make any money at all while on assistance- But they don’t provide enough to pay for essentials. There were no luaus. No gas to go to the beach. Never enough food. It was not the life I imagined I’d have at all.
    Hawaii is hell for people who are not independently wealthy or are a doctor. There are no CEO jobs. Top pay there is like $12 an hour- with more people than jobs- so you cannot demand higher pay or you get replaced. An average family has to work equal to 3 full time jobs to pay their mortgage. Low income houses start at 1/2 million. Most the local population lives in extreme poverty!

    It took 15 years for me to save up the $5,000 I needed to move to California. I arrived 1.5 years ago and my life has completely changed! Hawaii is a great place to visit or retire- its a terrible place to raise kids. The education is the lowest in the nation. The meth epidemic started in Hawaii 25 years ago- and pot smoking in middle school is considered normal. Girls get pregnant at 15/16 and become nothing. Guys become drug dealers or move away. I saved my daughters future by getting her out of there!

    Normal electric bill is $280. Shopping for dinner $70. Dinner for 3 at KFC $45. Tickets to see a movie $19 per person (soda $7 popcorn $10. Candy $4)
    The same pre-cooked BBQ ribs that sell for $5.67 here- $23. Fair rides $8 ea

    The tourist are lucky ones. They get to leave.


    • Hi noiqscore. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience having lived in hawaii. It definitely sounds like it was difficult living there and i am glad to hear you are doing better in california. I lived in california for five years and can see how some things in some parts are a lesser cost of living. I did notice, and i joked about it, but meant it as well, how costly toilet paper is in hawaii. I cannot imagine the costs of other necessities. When i was considering moving there i noticed the wages listed in the want ads and the costs of apartments and i was a bit shocked. I do plan on doing a community mapping while in oahu and if you have any recs on neighborhoods i should visit i gladly welcome them. Have a great weekend!


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