Home, as a concept

Over the past three weeks of September 2022, I have been prepping to go on the road, traveling on said road, or returning and recovering from traveling.

For the record, I traveled from Hawaii to Irvine, California, and then to Virginia Beach, Virginia. The trip took me to see family, and attend a national convention for JCI USA (United States Junior Chamber) where I wore another hat and helped a friend successfully be elected as the movement’s national president.

(More on that next year, as I am now his “Jaycee political” advisor).

While on the road, you meet different people, either for a minute, or reuniting after a long while. In three of these interactions, I got asked an interesting question that made me think of what Hawaii is, as a concept to me

The Author in front of his transpacific plane at Kona International. The only airport in Hawaii where they still board the plane by stairs, from the tarmac.
PC: Stan Fichtman
One of the few photos I took in Irvine, of course in front of a Trader Joe’s. Later on, to the post office.
PC: Stan Fichtman

THE FIRST QUESTION came from a van driver for a rental car company in Santa Ana. The woman picked me up and after a little bit started to converse with me. And most times, these conversations are light, typically turning to where I am coming from, and then asking me some basic questions as to how busy the company is, or how the weather is.

But this time around, the questions from the driver were provoking. When I told her I was from Hawaii, she turned around and asked “what’s it like there, for you”, meaning how was it to be a person who lives in Hawaii, how it is to live there.

I had to admit to the driver, after a pregnant pause, I never thought about Hawaii in such a way, and that I didn’t know how to answer. She gave a little foundation to her question by mentioning that it’s probably like everywhere else – you have life to live there like everywhere else.

I responded to that in the affirmative, noting in several ways Hawaii has the same challenges as everywhere else, some more so than others, but that it is my home first, and what comes as issues, we just deal with.

MY SECOND EXCHANGE about Hawaii came, from all people, my sister. Her approach to the question as to how I see Hawaii took a bit of a different angle but boiled down, it once again asked a question as to how I see Hawaii.

In this exchange, she asked me “if you couldn’t live in Hawaii, where would you live?”. My first answer, because I didn’t hear the question correctly was “well, Hawaii is my home and I can’t think of anyplace else to live”. Once I realized that she asked where’d I like to go if, say, Hawaii disappeared, I then answered, “well, most likely Taiwan” (where I lived in the early ’90s and dig the place when I took my wife there in 2018).

That exchange once again reaffirmed to me the concept that Hawaii was not only home for me, but the only home I could pin my soul to. To me, when it came to thinking of “anywhere else but Hawaii”, my mind went right back to Hawaii, which was reaffirming considering all the issues we continue to deal with as residents in the state – both good and bad.

THE THIRD DISCUSSION on this idea of Hawaii as a concept to me came from a group. At Virginia Beach, after an event, I stepped out of the lobby to the outside, where there was a group of Jaycees from Wisconsin standing around, smoking. Knowing a couple of them, I joined the group and just got into small talk. As we familiarized ourselves with what parts of the world we were from – them from Wisconsin and me, of course from Hawaii – the discussions went from small talk to delving into how our lives are in our relative places. Of course, being from Hawaii, there was a lot of questions on how it was “there” which led to the third delving into what Hawaii meant to me as a concept.

As the discussion went along and comparisons were made between experiences in Wisconsin and Hawaii, I noted in the conversation that, while one may think Hawaii is immune to the issues of life everyone experiences, the opposite is truer. That we, as residents of Hawaii, experience issues even more, or more often. For instance, the challenges of doing certain things, making ends meet, or dealing with policies and politicians than ideal.

In supporting the JCI USA national presidential candidate Nate Martin (the guy with all the lei) the delegation posed with the Hawaiian flag. The author is second from left, first row.
PC: Eve Epitome

IN ALL THREE INTERACTIONS, happening with people who have an outsider concept of Hawaii, to a person who was born, raised, and has lived here all my life, it brought a new perception of what Hawaii is to me, and how to express that to others.

And this is important because these days the people of Hawaii are looking at our leaders, and others, and asking an important question – who are we and what can we do here? While the current Governor’s race is not anywhere close to answering these questions, the people still want that affirmation that, indeed, Hawaii is still worth the time we all put into it to make it our home.

The three questions, and the answers I gave, helped reaffirm to me the notion that, yes, this place we call home, either in our heart or as a concept, is still worth the investment we make into it.

It still is worth it.

Even when we deal with the “fleas and ticks” that we in Hawaii recognize, we should keep in mind, everyone seems to face similar things. From politicians that lie to constituents (or ignore them) to policies that more hinder than help, to make any improvement that we want, we should invest the time.

Because to someone like me, I wouldn’t know what else to do, since Hawaii, as a concept, and in my heart, is and will always be my home.