08 April 2011

Hawaii Dreaming

“We could easily get a transfer to Honolulu,” my husband said,
“the wait list for the offices in Kona or in Maui is long.”

“I wouldn’t mind Kona or Maui for three years, but Honolulu? Too big, too busy.” I respond.  Niel shrugged off his coat, the tension in his shoulders making his movements stiff.

“And the support staff will work…”

“On Hawaiian time, beyond slow,” I finish for him; the man is always thinking about efficiency. His jaw clenched at the thought of having to cajole a productive day’s work out of a secretary.  He stepped into his closet. I heard him punch the code into his gun safe then a moment later let the lid fall shut with a bang; his weapon safely tucked away. He stepped back into the room, slid off his belt setting the handcuffs and cell phone on their tray along with his keys, badge and credentials.  A routine he’s followed for twelve years.

“I had to tell the guys at work budget cuts start now.  Most won’t be able to take their work vehicle home anymore.”

“So the gas budget has been cut back?”

“That and the rising cost of gas.  There are other cuts coming too.  Work more with less, the new Federal mantra,” he grimaced knowing there was no way another person would now be hired.  He was stuck supervising two units, over thirty people.  A year and a half of double duty, the stress was taking its toll.  Hence, thoughts of transferring to Hawaii.  It would be an opportunity to step away from supervisory work.  This conversation about Hawaii was one we’d had on and off for almost a year.

Last March, we’d spent ten days on Kauai.  Paradise with a dark shadow hovering.  We were guests of my stepdad and my mom. My mom, who six weeks previous, in a need to get away…away from loving friends, and doctors, and tests, and phone calls wishing her well, and meals being brought in, had booked a trip to Hawaii complete with a two bedroom house, pool and ocean views.  The same morning our oldest son flew east to Utah to begin the training for his two year mission in Brazil, my husband and I flew west to Hawaii.  There we snorkeled every day, hiked Wiamea Canyon; zip-lined in the jungle where they filmed Jurassic Park; ate Lappert’s homemade ice-cream (more often than we should have), had fresh fish suppers, watched the birds at the lanai feeders. 

Each day I lay in the sun, by the pool, with Mom talking about the tests.  She had laughed a tight, high laugh, and said she needed a haircut, but wasn’t going to get one until she knew “If she was going to lose her hair because of the drugs, no need to spend money on a haircut.”

Mom and I sat at the table on the lanai.  I picked at the fresh, juicy, sweet – the sweetest I’d ever tasted – pineapple.  Mom told me, again, her options.  If the test came back positive showing the cancer had spread from her breast as soon as she healed from the second lumpectamony she would start chemo then have the mastectomy.  If not, just the mastectomy.  A year later, I still get mad thinking about the doctor who did the first lumpectamony in the wrong spot. Unfortunately, the second procedure revealed a secondary cancer with no way to get a clean margin. I’d lost count of how many times she had talked though the many scenarios.  But that was okay. Sometimes talking it out was the only way through. 

We laughed, hard, clutching our sides one night as we tried to catch the gecko running wild in their room.  My stepdad shifted the dresser the critter had run behind.  We looked everywhere, but she alluded us.  I coaxed Mom into snorkeling one day.  It sprinkled on us as we walked to the beach.  It sprinkled on us every day.  She tired quickly, this woman who once scuba dived off the back of boats far out in the ocean and had trained to walk a marathon.  The most activity she engaged in now was a daily walk to the beach and back.  We’d stop and watch a whale breach or the turtles surf among the rocks.  We walked passed men and women with permanently tanned skin, dark hair and eyes boogie boarding on the rocky beaches where the turtles swam.  We went on down to the beach with the lifeguard, the raked white sand, and the warning signs.

Every once in a while Niel and I would remember our kids; our sixteen year old #2 daughter, who even though she hadn’t met the goals we had set, we had her get a driver’s license.  She made sure her brothers, ages ten (the 3rd son), and thirteen (the 2nd son), got to scouts and church, she’d get herself to work.  They did their home school work during the day and #3 son had dinner ready each night when the older ones came back from track practice.  Grandpa was just four miles way and friends readily available by phone.  Niel and I talked about how much the kids would love the things we were doing.  We imagined living here.  We could see them, as soon as lessons were completed, heading to the beach.  #2 daughter’s athletic body now tanned, a surf board tucked under her arm.   #2 son, poking amongst the rocks and tide pools.  And  #3 son laughing it up as he boogie boarded with the sea turtles on the rocky beach.  His jovial friendly nature helping him blend in and be accepted by the Hawaiian’s, but blue eyes shining in his white face, his nose, splattered with freckles, setting him apart.

Ten days passed. We returned home.  

Mom got her hair cut.

On and off in the ensuing months I surfed the net looking at homes in Kona and Maui not wanting to live in Honolulu. I hope the rumor that a new office might open on Kauai is true, though it’d be a long shot to get that assignment. 

But, as Niel said “We could easily get a transfer to Honolulu…” so I click on another realtor’s web site ignoring the long list of practical reasons why a move to the islands would never happen.  It’s April in northwest Oregon, we got a sprinkle of snow the other day, I’m still wearing turtle necks, long johns and thick sock when I’m outside for any length of time. So I “click” and read “condo with ocean views”…

If you could keep your income and live anywhere in the world for three years, where would you go? Why?

                                                       (Baby Beach, Kauai, March 2010)