Thursday night, Nolemana, our eldest daughter and I wen hele to da airport to meet our youngest daughter, who was coming home from 3 weeks in Europe. We were standing right outsai da security checkpoint, so we could greet her wen she got off da plane. Da crowd of peeps standing deah had one long, long wait, around 45 minutes of waiting anxiously for da faces of da peeps we all love to appear.
I wen bring along dis kinda funky, crimped paper lei; had all kine colors of da papers. I was going make one candy lei, but she no eat sugar so was going be waste. So I took da paper lei and wen hang it ovah my arm, jass like back home.
Suddenly, behind me, one voice said, “Oh! Can I see your lei? I’ve never seen anything like it!” Dis haole wahine thought it was reeyo kewl (it was, yeah!) and even wen put on her glasses so she could see um mo bettah. I was happy for share it lidat.
She thought it was a neat idea dat I wen bring one lei, and I said (in my best English), “I’m from Hawai‘i and it this is how we greet people; so even if I don’t have a flower lei, I still have a lei”.
She wen tell me dat she’s from Hawai‘i too; lived deah forty years. “Oh!” I wen say, “Wat island u from?” She wen tell me “O‘ahu”.
I wen ask her wat part of da island she from (“between Aina Haina and Kahala”).
But I nevah wen continue da conversation any further. Was my choice for no say nuttin more. Hakum?
Dis why. She not local. She had on one local kine t-shirt. And shuah, she might have lived in da ‘āina for 40 years, but I no cayah if she lived deah one tousand yeahs…she not local. 40 years in da ‘āina and not local? How can dat be?
K’den, I going tell u.
Da haole wahine had none of da local kine aloha spirit. No connection wit me as one local wahine. None of dat kine recognition. There was sometin in da way she wen say “between Aina Haina and Kahala” dat had a touch of “I am among da chosen few” in it. She wen show no delight in finding anoddah local so far from home, and had none of dat instant connection dat I find wit odda locals.
She wen show no interest in me as a local girl. I coulda been a wahine from Georgia, oa Missouri, or New York for all da interest she showed. It was like we jass two strangers at da airport, waiting for peeps to come off da plane.
If had been one local in da airport, dis is wat woulda happened:
Local wahine: “Eh, shaka da lei!”
Me: “Eh, mahalo! Wat island u from?”
Local wahine: “O‘ahu, Kane‘ohe side”.
Me: “Weah u wen grad?”
Local wahine: “Castle High”.
Me: “Oh eh! U know my cuzzin Kimo Fuertes (oa whoevah)?
Local wahine: “Kimo Fuertes wen marry my cuzzin’s braddah’s niece, Momi!”
Me: “Foah realz? My auntie’s keeds wen go school wit Momi!”
[Da family connections would take at least anoddah 30 minutes!]
Local wahine: “So weah u wen grad? U stay from O‘ahu den?”
Me: “Yeah, up Mānoa Valley side… I wen grad UHS”.
Local wahine: “Eh, my braddah’s best friend’s girlfriend Lehua wen grad UHS!”
Me: “Lehua Keawe? I know her!”
[Add on anoddah 30 minutes!]
Local wahine: So watchu stay doing in Oregon?”
Me: “Oi…. I wen come ovah heah for go school, den met and married one haole kane, and da ress history. But u know, at least get Uwajimaya ovah heah, not too far away… so can get all kine local grindz, even poi if I lucky!”
Local wahine: “Oh yeah, I been ovah deah. Da odda day, in fack. I wen get mochiko foah make mochi, lychee, poi, see moi, dat ono raisin bread from da Vietnamese bakery, an I wen get da Hawaiian plate lunch for grine. I wen whack dat wikiwiki… ho, I could hardly walk outa da store!”
Dis same conversation coulda been in perfect English, and still woulda been one local kine conversation.
Driving down da road wit local kine decals and bumpahstickers all ovah my car, plenny times I hear one honk, and den somebody chrows me da shaka as dey go by; we wave and smile at each oddah, and keep smiling for blocks or miles aftahward. I feel more connection wit dem in dat 15-second encounter on da fly den I did wit dis wahine lass nite.
I no mean to say dat I no talk to anyone who no stay local. I no mean dat at all. Wat I stay saying is dat I see no reason for continue one conversation where da spark no stay deah… I no like feel like I stay pulling nails in ordah for talk stories wit someone.
Dis coulda happened wit a Hawaiian wahine, or one kane oa wahine who had lived in Hawai‘i all their lives… can happen wit anybody. To me, being local is one attitude, not just because u from Hawai‘i. Anybody can be from Hawai‘i, but not everybody is local. I know several peeps who nevah wen live in da ‘āina, but who stay local to da core. Just because somebody stay from da ‘āina no make u local. Dis wat I trying for say about dat wahine in da airport. No make any difference if she was Hawaiian, Portagee, Pake oa haole oa watevahs… she was not local.
My expectation was dat we were going have one typical local kine talking stories…making a connection… but she had nomo interest in me den if I was dis fly on da wall. And there was still dat attitude of superiority dat wen grate on me. I wen put out da aloha feelers… but notting wen come back.
Get plenny odda stuffs dat make us local; but dis, to me, is one of da beeg ones. Is okay. I nevah wen cry myself to sleep dat night. LOL. I was left wit one feeling of sadness for her… and I wondah… does she even know she not local? Adunno.
But I know one ting for shuah. I am local to da core and proud of it!