“The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” – Mark Twain, Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii)
I have these vague, but very real memories dreaming of being somewhere else. I was a kid in search of adventure, discovery, new people and new things. I would look through National Geographics whenever I could and drool over the intriguing photos accompanying the articles I barely (if at all) understood. I remember sitting at my desk; it was white and had this vintage romantic look. It was shiny, but a little distressed. I would stare at these photos. I would crank my tiny radio up hoping for a favorite song so I could live in a trance beyond my desk.
There came a day for me to finally see the world, and it came a bit unexpectedly. It took a lot of self-growth, but I eventually figured out that looking back shouldn’t be about recreating the past. Looking back should be done admirably, to be proud of my where’s.
I’m reminded of how I felt when I was eleven. The new kid in school and it felt so foreign. Not only was the place different, but the school was. The weather certainly was. I had never seen so many kids that didn’t look like me. At that time I didn’t know too many other kids in my school of Hawaiian or any Polynesian ethnicity. There was one girl, but it felt like she filled that token Hawaiian slot for so many of kids. Like their dashboards already had a hula girl and I wasn’t it. I made friends anyway.
The friends I made helped me move forward. We were all awkward. We all ate rice with every meal. We took our shoes off before stepping into any house and we liked talking about where our families came from. I was fascinated with my friends’ cultures and I would share mine with them as often as I could. I still do it…here in the south. It’s important to understand each other. To accept our differences, respect and appreciate one another.
I find myself making spam musubis and enjoying them with new friends even farther away from Polynesia. What I am saying here is that Polynesia, whatever that is to you, can be where you want it to be. Maybe you aren’t physically there, but it doesn’t have to be gone. Live in it in someway despite geographic boundaries.