Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rock Fever

     Rock Fever. It's an ailment that targets transplanted mainlanders stifled by Hawaii's tiny size and remote isolation, restless souls that crave endless miles of roadway to take them to new, different, or long forgotten sights, vistas, towns, people, climates, or places, there for the taking any time they choose if they just drive far enough in the right direction.
     Hawaii is beautiful and each island has its unique charms—people, beaches, valleys, mountain ridges, and historical and cultural offerings—but after awhile, because it is sooo tiny—especially on over-crowded Oahu—it can get rather familiar, if not tiresome as the novelty wears off and the same gorgeous beach sunsets; clear, cloudless, starry skies; rainbows; and waterfalls fade into an unnoticed background of unchanging sameness.
     It's ennui born of restlessness—the desire to escape, yet feeling trapped, stranded, and forced to stay due to prohibitive travel costs, limited vacation time, and gross inconvenience—you can't just hop in a car and go. 
     I never caught rock fever except once while in college at U.H., spurring me to flee Hawaii's confines to pursue an M.B.A. in Seattle, then to stay and work there at a Big Eight accounting firm for an additional two years. The first year away from home was exhilarating, the next was good, the next was okay, the last was blah. I could see the downward trend and started to miss home so I moved back to Honolulu, but that first year back was rough 'cause none of my high school friends were around, and my college dorm friends at U.H. had all drifted apart, and the CPA firm I worked for was an awful fit.  I was cured of my restlessness, but felt lost and alone in a strange, new place where I no longer fit—for I had changed while I'd been away and even the way I talked now, not so much pidgin anymore, wasn't quite local. 
    But after I started working for the state the coming year, things improved dramatically.  My father, paternal grandfather, and numerous aunties and uncles worked for the state—always considered desirable for its job security and great benefits—so with my natural laid-back, risk averse personality, it felt comfortable and natural.  Then, within the coming years when I started attending church and believing in God and accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, things really improved—surrendering to a higher authority can do wonders for a person's psyche, outlook, and temperament—and they have been improving overall ever since. 
    Twenty-five unbroken years living on this island without having missed the wide open spaces and unlimited adventures the mainland has to offer has been a long run, even for a local at heart like me.  But recently, it's been creeping in on me: symptoms of rock fever. Our family had averaged one “big trip” away from the islands every four years or so, however, with the recent exorbitant airfares, it'd been pushed back to six years and counting, which may partly explain my susceptibility. So with the recent dip in airfares, I jumped at the opportunity to spend part of this holiday season on the mainland with my friend Norm whose parents recently died a few years apart and who is still struggling following his recent divorce. (He was ready to call it quits nineteen years ago but I helped convinced him not to. In the end Kathy called it off but stuck through at Norm's request 'till their two kids left for college.) It'll be new for me to see his family without her. I hope we'll add joy to their season and not be too big a burden.
     While there, we'll try to play in the snow, let Deanne see some houseboats she read about in some books, and watch Norm, recently promoted to black belt, teach some kids karate—all things we can't do in Hawaii. 
     Part of the incentive, to be transparent, is to get away from my family during the holidays as we've all been getting into a sort of obligatory rut. My sister for the first time complained last year about the stress of hosting, and with my brother's and brother-in-law's sister's recent divorces, and my sister's mother-in-law's recent death, Christmas cheer has felt a bit more forced than in years past. (My brother-in-law got laid off last year around his birthday and though he found one job, then another at higher pay in quick succession, he still hasn't fully recovered, it seems.)
     I'm not one to run from problems or avoid people I don't feel comfortable around.  In this case I believe it's more the other way around: I feel perfectly fine with them; at times it seems they prefer seeing less rather than more of us 'cause we receive less invitations than we used to and when we're around, people tend to disappear—to run errands, do chores, walk the dog, or hangout outside. 
     Not that I'm complaining, we all love each other and enjoy each other's company. Everyone's “good”; no one's “evil.” It's just that more and more our extended family's capacity for one-big-happy-family cheer has diminished and my aging parents (in their early eighties) and brother-in-law's father can accommodate only so much family togetherness (especially with the kids around). By spending part of our holidays away, then, I hope that our times together will be that much more precious and appreciated by all. Besides if we ever move away to the mainland East Coast after I retire (which I've been dreaming of of late), this'll give us all a tiny feel of what that might be like during the holidays.

No comments:

Post a Comment