My family has been vacationing in Hawaii for about twelve years. I wouldn’t say we’ve seen everything, but we’ve seen a lot. We’ve gone parasailing and snorkeling and four-wheeling and horseback riding. We’ve been to the volcanoes and the botanical gardens and to the top of Mauna Kea to see the telescopes. We have our “usual” restaurants and always stay at the same resort in Waikaloa, where fortunately for me, my parents own a timeshare.
The first time Brett and I went to Hawaii together was back in 2005, when my parents invited him to join us on our family vacation. That invitation for Brett (who was only my boyfriend at the time) meant one thing and one thing only: they approved. Boyfriends were rarely invited on family day trips, let alone Hawaiian vacations.
We went parasailing together on that trip and I got so sick on the ride back that I ended up puking off the side of the boat while Brett gently patted my back. That was the first (but certainly not last) time he saw me throw up. At the time, we were right in that perfect middle-part of a dating relationship. We were incredibly comfortable with each other, but there was still a hint of mystery in the air, marked by tiny, subtle attempts to impress each other. After my vomiting episode, and after Brett had an allergic reaction to shellfish a few nights later, our relationship unintentionally went to the next level, where that sort of thing is totally normal.
Hawaii is full of memories for me. There was the time we went to Maui with Brett’s parents after I graduated college, and we threw a foam football back and forth on the beach while our shoulders got sunburnt. Brett’s dad watched us from a lounge chair, wearing a blue polo tucked into khaki pants with white shoes and white socks, of course. I think we got him into swim trunks a couple times on that trip, but mostly he stuck to his regular attire. There was the time Brett and I went to the Big Island just the two of us and it was the most relaxing week of my entire life, full of days spent by the pool sipping strawberry-banana smoothies and reading complete books in an afternoon’s sitting. There was the time we went to Kauai to celebrate Megan and Stefan’s wedding and danced and drank mai tais while it sprinkled a warm rain. Just nine months ago, we were in Maui, rubbing sunscreen all over my pregnant belly and writing Everett’s name in the sand.
Yes, Hawaii has been my home away from home for as long as I can remember, and I hope to make it a special place for Everett too. There is something to be said for the escape-ness of Hawaii, the constant atmosphere of relaxation. Everything is slower there, in a good way.
This trip was both familiar and different. The palm trees still swayed to the hum of the wind; the air still smelled of salt water and sunscreen. Hawaii was familiar, but we were different—most noticeably marked by our seven giant pieces of luggage and screaming infant on the plane. We were that family now.
Poor Everett was sick the first half of the trip, covered in snot and crankier than usual. Brett and I adjusted to the time change quickly, but were still up at 5:00am every morning at the all too familiar sound of Everett’s hungry cry. Our days revolved around his naps and afternoons at the pool were often cut short. Any time we were at a restaurant, someone had to be bopping him around or scattering toys on the table or walking him in the stroller so he wouldn’t make a scene. Thank goodness my parents were there to help because I probably would have cried without them.
I’m learning that vacations and adventures during this season will never be the same as the old season, the just-the-two-of-us season, and for better and for worse, that’s how it’s supposed to be. We’ve traded the joy of sleeping in for the joy of dipping Everett’s toes in the sand, and while it’s not particularly peaceful or relaxing, it is special and whole in its own sort of way.
And for that, I am thankful.