Aloha from Hawaii, where I am finishing up a three-week lecture tour of the United States. I have lectured May Blossom and Garnet in public and private, day and night, on planes, in hotels and restaurants, through three states.
The first two weeks of our trip were to the mainland USA – Denver and the mountains of far southern Colorado, where we spend a very strange and tumultuous week that needs, and will have, a post all to itself. Now we are in Hawaii, which seemed like a really good plan when I made the booking back in December, and now feels like purgatory, but more expensive, thanks to the Australian dollar which seems to have taken a leaf from Garnet’s book and sat down in the middle of the footpath and refused to walk.
In traditional Gusto Family style, our vacation has been light on relaxation and heavy on visits to doctors’ offices. Garnet kicked it off before we left home by getting croup, which by the time we landed in Denver after twenty-four hours’ travel had morphed into conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, to use the deceptively cute term the Americans prefer. Once the crusted eye-rot cleared up, he was left with the croup again, with an additional helping of bronchitis and strep throat. I had strep throat too, and May Blossom succumbed to it a few days after. The three of us all had a course of antibiotics, which worked briefly, but as soon as the course finished the throat infection reared up like a zombie and Garnet and I were left with the undead living on our tonsils again.
My lectures to the kids are working somewhat. For the most part, the children are behaving beautifully in public, where lots of people have come over to compliment us on their behaviour. Behind the scenes, it’s like living with two small sarcastic tearful wolves. They are okay as long as they are able to do exactly what they want, when they want. Mostly that is sitting on the window seat in the hotel room watching Aladdin on the ipad while scooping hummus out of the tub with their thumbs, but there’s only so many hours a day we can permit that. Fifteen hours, to be precise.
Sometimes we drag them out and make them do other things. That’s when it gets hard.
This morning, for example, Garnet had a weeping collapse because after H went back upstairs to our room to retrieve some drawing materials, at May Blossom’s request, he brought back the wrong drawing book for his son. Garnet only wanted the one that was still upstairs, even though all his does in it is draw with a purple glue stick that dries clear, thereby leaving his art invisible and the pages stuck together. Garnet is an extremely tortured artist because of his choice of media.
So while poor beleaguered H marched back up to get the right book, I launched into a stern talk about how Daddy was not having a nice time at all on this vacation, and how after we did some drawing under the gorgeous banyan tree in the marble courtyard of this overpriced hotel, we would all be going shopping and how they had better smarten up and behave or there was going to be no television or swimming ever again in their lives.
‘Right, so there will be no more fussing today. About anything. Is that completely clear?’ I finished.
May Blossom agreed, apologised and said that would indeed be fine.
Garnet, on the other hand, stared into the middle distance with a firm set to his jaw.
‘Garnet?” I repeated. ‘Will there be any more fussing today?’
‘He seems to be speechless,’ observed his sister. Garnet was not planning to be a signatory to our non-aggression treaty.
In the end the shopping trip didn’t end too badly. The kids rabbited about the mercifully empty H & M and accepted bribes of $1 necklaces to stay mostly under control.
It was only when we were paying at the checkout that Garnet lost his shit a bit, because I couldn’t make the plaited gold belt that he wanted to wear as a tail stay on him without doing it up. He seemed to want it to float behind him. He got pretty shirty with me because, you know, if your mother can’t overcome gravity and other simple laws of physics then what use is she at all?
Luckily, irrational jetlagged people, large and small, are ten-a-penny here in Waikiki, so we aren’t standing out too much. Our five day-stay here was cut short by a night because of a flight delay from LA, and when we first got here I was so exhausted from the mucked up travel that I didn’t know if I was ahi or mahi mahi. I tried to reserve judgement until I had settled in a bit and wasn’t so tired. Now I have recovered enough to know that the delay was a blessing in disguise because it turns out Waikiki with two small children is not my US$9 cup of tea at all.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Hawaii, mostly as a child and teenager, when my grandparents used to live in the tiny town of Hana on the island of Maui. The Hawaii I am familiar with is nothing like Waikiki. Hana is like the Hawaiian version of Huskisson. Waikiki is like the Gold Coast. I sort of knew this was the case, but it still came as a mighty shock to me. Waikiki is no longer like a Beach Boys song, if it ever was.
There are people everywhere, all the time, all trying to walk on whatever side of the footpath is customary where they come from. They’ve all got at least one selfie stick. Someone on every block is busking badly on the ukelele, and they are only know how to play ‘Tiny Bubbles’ and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. I’m going to hide in our room, gargle salt water for my sore throat, watch Aladdin and eat hummus off my thumb until it’s time to go the airport. I will only venture out for happy hour mai tais.