Recently, I read a rather comical (yet very true) post on the things Hawaii people learn. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was not truly written by someone who was born and raised there since the title was 13 Things Hawaiians Learn…. A true local would know that we are not all Hawaiians. That term is reserved specifically for the native blood. Which many, I’d say 90%, of the population aren’t Native Hawaiians. Anyway, let’s move away from the specifics. I read the list and chuckled. Although, for what it’s worth, I figured I’d do my own version.
1. People will call you a Hawaiian.
Let me elaborate on the whole Native Hawaiian thing. Yes, I know that people from Texas are called Texans, and people from California are called Californians. However, in the case of Hawaii – you can’t call us Hawaiians because that would be like calling an Irish person, simply living in France, French. I am Japanese and I live in Hawaii – which makes me a non-Hawaiian. Catch my drift?
2. There is, in fact, fruit punch on the Mainland.
Someone once told me there was no fruit punch to be found in any Mainland McDonalds, Burger King, or any place for that matter. They lead me to believe that I would have to pack some in my bag and savor the flavor until my next visit. This is simply not true. Rest assured, there absolutely must be a sugary beverage (besides soda) for the kiddos in all states. I’m not sure if this was just a singular experience but – it happened to me.
3. The mainland is a dangerous place full of murderers and fiends.
I swear, this is starting to sound like Hawaii is a weird isolated dystopia but this is what people really told me. Of course there are more murderers over the span of a gigantic land mass as opposed to our tiny island. However, it’s really not as dangerous as people make it out to be. People in Hawaii can really start to sound like the snails in Turbo if they don’t ever leave. They mean well, they really do! But not every city is like Compton and walking alone in the darkness to grab a piece of mail will not lead you into the plot of a CSI episode.
4. Restrooms, Flip Flops, Snow Cones and the like.
Repeat after me – Restrooms, Flip Flops (sandals), snow cones and middle school. These are new words. Embrace them. You will no longer say ba-troom, slippahs, shave ice, and intermediate school. Okay, don’t say flip flops – you’re never going to stop saying flip flops so just say sandals. Or only wear shoes. Or call it footwear. But whatever you do, don’t you dare call them flip flops and don’t you dare go out and buy a pair of Chacos, so help me Pele (ehrm goddess of lava for all you non-islanders). Also, people will ask about how you say the name Hawai’i or pronounce “mountain” and “button” with actual ‘Ts’ in them. Maybe the the ‘T’ thing is just in this Colorado region but there is definitely a T in those words! Coach them through saying Hawai’i properly and then tell them they’ve done a stand up job.
5. If you don’t know how to surf, learn. If you don’t want to learn, lie.
First question when people learn you’re from Hawai’i. Oh so do you surf? Answer: Yes. Yes you do surf. You’ve always surfed. You practically grew up on a surfboard! Trust me. This is all they want to hear – and in those occasions when you will probably never talk to this person ever again – just lie. It makes it easier for the both of you. Then there is not earth-shattering silence after you’ve ruined the conception of what Hawai’i is to this stranger. Then, you can just move along with your day with no further explanation. See – it’s just better. Now, under the circumstances that this may be your newest BFF you might consider telling them the truth. That not everybody from Hawai’i surfs, but that’s your call.
6. Beach hair is no longer unintentional.
I guess it’s a thing here? People actually go for the ‘beach hair’ waves and spray sea salted water to improve it’s hold. EVEN IF there is no beach for hundreds of miles around. In Hawai’i you usually go home to take a shower after the beach.
7. SAD is a real thing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder – it’s not just in the depths of your Psych 101 text book. Of course how could you know better? There’s no such thing as SAD in Hawai’i because there are no seasons! It’s just sunny all the way around the year so how were you even supposed to build a tolerance? Well, you didn’t. Which is why it is terrifyingly depressing to wake up to another clouded, freezing-cold, morning.
8. Speaking of seasons – they exist too!
Although SAD can be, well, sad – seasons are actually really fun! You know all those movies and books that describe crisp autumn afternoons? Well guess what? Early autumn is actually pretty crispy! Growing up in Hawai’i, I always wondered what the hell a crisp afternoon was like. Now I know, and if I could find a place or planet that was continuously crispy I’d move immediately! It is quite possibly the loveliest of all weather. I suppose Hawaii’s usual humidity could be described as soggy. Also, upon retuning home after a long stint in the mainland you might also notice the actual moisture in the air and on everything you touch. Laying down on a bed kind of feels like sleeping on a section of moss.
9. Camping in Hawaii ≠ camping on the mainland
Camping at home is like a really long beach trip speckled with some diving, sand volleyball, and watching the sunrise on the ocean’s horizon. Camping on the mainland is not the same. There are bears. It is cold. But it has it’s own serenity. It’s much quieter since camping in Hawai’i usually means being one permit away from another loud family. There is so much, widespread wilderness that you won’t see people for miles, which is equally as terrifying as it is beautiful.
10. There is no place like home
Being away means truly appreciating everything that is home. That can be said about any place for anyone. Hawai’i is unique and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been or lived. I suppose that’s why people bombard us with so many questions because they want a glimpse of what it’s like too. It’s nice to call such a beautiful place your home.