Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Da Kine

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Da Kine

In what other land save this one is the commonest form of greeting not "Good day," nor "How d'ye do," but "Love?" That greeting is "Aloha" -- Love, I love you, my love to you... It is a positive affirmation of the warmth of one's own heart-giving.

- Jack London

Did you miss me? I missed you! I'm fresh off the plane from a quick vacation!

After spraying on a film of artificial tan from a bottle, packing our bags, and leaving our towheaded boy with Gramma and Boppa, Brian and I strapped ourselves into a small commuter plane and flew to San Francisco early Thursday morning. We gladly left approximately 5-degree weather behind. After a moderately turbulent flight and several minutes of prayerful meditation to keep myself from screaming and alarming the other passengers, I found myself mesmerized by the color of the sea and sunlight reflecting off the silver engine as we landed in California. We enjoyed a relaxed layover, switched planes, and made it to Hawaii around dinner time. I was happy to put my big old feet on terra firma, even if the ground was volcanic. After all, I am most at home amongst hibernating but living volcanoes, as Oregon tends to shudder, steam, burp, and swell occasionally, reminding me the earth is in a constant state of change. Hawaii is no different. I am not generally thrilled about traveling by air, but I admit my favorite part of flying has to be Sky Mall, the catalog dependably located in the seat pocket in front of me snuggled next to the cartoonish safety card on every flight. I love this magazine because I can choose from expensive and practical items such as electronic fly swatters and jeweled sweaters for my cat. I quickly finished the book I brought that was written by a member of our church congregation about her experiences with her child with a disability, and I enthusiastically threw myself into the plastic, unrealistic world of a tropical vacation, starting with Sky Mall and a trashy true crime book I purchased in San Francisco. It took more effort than I imagined it would to leave Williams syndrome, therapy, and worry behind. Upon saying goodbye to Erik earlier, my heart immediately ached for just one more of his smiles and the warm scent of his hair. I do love that boy more than life itself. I am officially one of the mothers I used to poke fun at.

We were greeted by the slow-as-molasses pace only Hawaii can provide with a cheesy but delightful lei greeting and an almost maddeningly leisurely stroll to our hotel shuttle. Our hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki, was an impeccable, sand-colored building adorned by glittery but tasteful Christmas decor, including a gigantic wreath of greenery glistening with gigantic, colorful, glassy ornaments. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner there before passing out in our room from sheer exhaustion and, in my case, two surprisingly potent rum runners, with the scent of gardenias still infused into my hair and skin.

Friday morning we trudged up and down the beach, dodging other tourists slow cooking themselves in a pungent marinade of sweat and coconut oil, took a short nap, and then gussied up to go out on the town with Rod, a former coworker of Brian's. My husband formerly lived in Hawaii for over four years while he helped engineer and build the H3 freeway on Oahu years ago. We took a taxi to meet Rod, his wife Rhonda, and their two daughters at a Korean restaurant off the tourist track, where we ate some tasty, sometimes unidentifiable food (I swear I ate something with a tiny head, and it was actually good). We were given another more heartfelt lei greeting by their girls. After dinner, we were taken to Leonard's, a Hawaiian bakery, to sink our teeth into some hot malasadas, a Portuguese delight made from fried pastry dough covered in sugar. From there, we attended a lively fireworks show and Christmas music on the beach at the Hilton.

Saturday we indulged in a free breakfast and attended a rather unfortunate seminar regarding a time-share/vacation club. I will not go into graphic detail about this particular presentation, but I will say it lasted way too long, and I was really angry by the end. Since I have dealt with the Hawaiian police in the past at age 17 and found it a very frustrating experience (long story for another time), I decided that wrapping my hands around the saleswoman's throat and finding myself incarcerated would be a poor idea, even if it did mean I got to meet a celebrity like Dog the Bounty Hunter. Instead, we took our $100 voucher for attending and headed to our hotel restaurant for some wonderful food and a mango daiquiri before heading back to the room, where I enjoyed another rare and refreshing nap.

After relaxing, it was time to hit the pavement again. We boarded a small van with other Oregon State fans for a ride to Aloha Stadium to watch the OSU football team play the University of Hawaii Warriors. For two entire days we had nodded in friendly recognition towards a growing number of fellow tourists wearing Oregon State attire and occasionally shouted, "Go Beavs!" at strangers wearing orange. There was a real sense of camraderie, excitement, and friendship throughout the resort community before the game. One woman in our shuttle van sported a large, alarmingly toasty-looking hat made of fake fur in the likeness of a very fluffy, adorable beaver. We arrived at the stadium and separated from the others. Brian had been told on the phone that our tickets would place us in the visitors' section, but we were very surprised to find we were virtually the only OSU fans in a green sea of Hawaii Warriors. The joke was on us, and the people around us found it especially funny, but me not so much. Since we arrived hours before the game, we purchased a spicy tuna sushi roll and a Hawaiian plate lunch, a Styrofoam container stuffed with roasted pulled pork, rice, macaroni salad, and garlicky shrimp in their shells. Brian and I are happiest when our eyes water and our noses run from overindulging in wasabi paste. We're addicted, and no food is ever spicy enough for us. After the food at Aloha Stadium, I will never be able to enjoy standard football fare the same way. The football game itself ended up being quite a battle with passion overflowing on both sides, deafening us all. Because we were so high up in the stadium, the warm gusts off Pearl Harbor rudely assaulted us much of the game, and I kept my right eye tightly closed much of the time to contain the crusty, dried out husk of my contact lens which threatened to join the trash and confetti swirling on the field. There was some rain, but I would classify it more as mist than anything else, and any water or debris that hit us while we watched was gently warmed by the air and wasn't unpleasant in the least. OSU won the game by a small margin. I think my heart stopped at least three times. After briefly enjoying our victory, we began walking quickly back to find our hotel shuttle, which required us to join 49,998 other fans (most of them fairly peeved about the result of the game) slowly lurching step by step across the parking lot and then over a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the highway. The scene looked a lot like it was taken directly from The Night of the Living Dead, only everybody was wearing Beaver or Warrior football attire, carrying pom-poms, or developing premature hangovers before our eyes.

Sunday we checked out of our hotel and walked across the strip to see if we could rent a car for the day. The only vehicle they had left was a silver Ford Mustang convertible, and we jumped at the chance to drive it around the island with the top down. We stopped at Haunauma Bay and Halona Cove to enjoy the scenery. Brian showed me where he lived before he met me, in a sprawling house precariously perched on a cliff with a grand view of the ocean, and told me funny stories about his old roommates. He also lived in a pad close to Lanakai, where we parked in a fairly well-to-do neighborhood of neat beach houses and ventured down an alley trail to the ocean. There was hardly a soul on this pristine beach, and the sand was softer than the stingy, spiky, shell-studded expanse of shore behind our hotel. The water was a light turquoise color, and walking next to the water felt like walking on a warm, freshly baked sugar cookie. From there, we went to dine on fresh fish and shrimp in Kailua at Buzz's Steak House, a dark, cozy wooden building decorated inside with tiny white Christmas lights and featuring candle lit, screened-in porches.

After dinner, Brian drove over the completed H3 freeway for the first time since the project was finished years ago, and we reluctantly returned back to the hustle of Waikiki. We returned the car and were temporarily homeless, so we sat by campy, warm tiki torch light on the damp, misty beach until it was time to catch our shuttle back to the airport. We spent the remainder of the night and the next morning on two more planes and arrived home by lunch time the next day. On the little death trap commuter, I dropped off to sleep. When I awoke, the scenery out my oval-shaped window looked like the backdrop of a bad spaghetti western -- snow, baby blue sky, and muted earth tones, letting me know we were back in Oregon and it was time to apply my signature Cover Girl Almost Nude lipstick. After we landed, I spotted a familiar, blond, slightly square-shaped head bobbing up and down in the airport window as we walked across the tarmac to the terminal. We walked through the automatic door, and I was greeted by Erik's voice saying, "MOMMY!" By the grace of God, I did not shed one tear. I knew if I cried one tear, there would be one hundred more right behind it.

The journey was fabulous, but it's good to be home.


Blogger Lisa said...

What a wonderful post!! I'm so happy for you that you got to get away for the weekend and enjoy some sunshine.

I am, of course, also green with envy! We are planning a trip to Kauaii in May. Booked the tickets tonight actually, so reading about your awesome weekend just made me want to leave NOW! :-)

By the same token...Whenever I leave, I'm also so very very glad to get back home. I think there's a little bit of Dorothy in all of us...there's no place like home.....

12:03 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Wow!! I was thisclose to emailing you to see where you were, as I do tailor my life and blog around reading yours :). And all this time you were in Hawaii?!?! How lush!! It started to snow here the other day and I envy your trip to warm luxury.

Did you make the trip to see the game???? When are they playing in New England, then ? ;)

Love -K

4:57 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Wow!! I was thisclose to emailing you to see where you were, as I do tailor my life and blog around reading yours :). And all this time you were in Hawaii?!?! How lush!! It started to snow here the other day and I envy your trip to warm luxury.

Did you make the trip to see the game???? When are they playing in New England, then ? ;)

Love -K

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow looks like a amazing time. I sure wish we lived close enough to Hawaii to just pop over for a long weekend... Aloha Stadium looks way cool from the inside, all I have ever seen id the flea market in the parking lot. I love the picture of you and Brian...:) Glad you are home....I did not post a lot on purpose so you could catch up easy LOL ...Love Ya

7:30 AM  
Blogger Aspen said...

Oh Nancy! I am so glad you had a great time! Your stories (as usual) were great and like always I laughed a few times and teared up when I read about Erik finally getting to see his Mommy! I am glad you made it home safely!

Give Erik and extra kiss from us. Love you and missed you!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Wow Nancy, how cool is that!! What a fantastic way to spend a weekend. Glad you had a great time. I too am addicted to wasabi paste and am constantly begging my burger loving husband to get sushi. Enjoy loving up Erik! Missed you, Nicole

1:54 PM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

I thought you were kind of quiet this week!

I am glad you and Brian had a fabulous trip. You deserve it! Being in freezing (albeit no snow) NH, I envy you!!

4:35 PM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

Well that sounds like something I need NOW!!!!! Wow, you really painted a beautiful picture. I love the way you write by the way.

I'm afraid of flying myself, get scared- but if they give me a double martini straight up- I'll be okay.

The only not so pleasant thing I read here on your post is the thing you ate with a head on it. That didn't sound too appetizing, but I'm sure it was good. I'm always eating sushi, eel and other things that people cringe at, so I can't say anything!

I hope you had fun, and the pictures are great!

Umm, next time I expect an invitation missy! :)


9:21 AM  
Blogger Leesa said...

I absolutely loved the "Sky Mall" paragraphs. Very clever and true.

One petpeive, not with you but with sports.

To me, OSU = Oklahoma State University or Oregon State University (have to figure it out from context). OSU should never be "The Ohio State University". That should just be "Ohio State."

5:28 AM  
Blogger kathi said...

I get that stuff for time share vacations and throw them away all the time...should I actually do one?? Hmmmmm. Hey Lisa, let's do one together! Chances are good, though, together, we'd have too much to drink and end up signing something, lol!

Anyway (sorry Nancy), I'm glad y'all got to get away and GORGEOUS pic's!! You're such a cutie!!

10:17 AM  

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