Last week I called my mom while vacationing with my husband and our three school-age children. After moving from the East Coast to the West Coast to an area known for its gray, rainy winters, I lost the argument about if we should go to Hawaii. I spent three years of my own childhood in Hawaii, and while I was eager to show my children a place for which I had such fond memories, I wanted to be sure they were old enough to remember such a grand vacation and mature enough to handle the time zone changes and appreciate the vacation. I also don't want them to grow up spoiled, so I'm always inclined to go simple while my husband wants to go big.
But my husband and children won this time; we spent their mid-winter break on Maui, soaking up the sun, spending lazy hours on the beach and in the pool, taking a break from our busy American pace, and eating amazing food.
"Mom," I started on this particular phone call, "When we lived here, why didn't we do a whale watching tour?"
I remember visiting Maui when I was ten years old--exactly 30 years ago. But I know we didn't go see the humpback whales, which migrate to Maui this time of year, which surprised me. My parents always did a fantastic job of trying to get to know a place well before we had to pack up and move. I remember the giant banyan tree near the boat slips, its roots dropping from above in a way that was magical to me then and now. I remember the creamy ice cream from Lapparts ice cream in Lahania, and how my parents bought bags of their toasted coconut coffee despite the hefty price tag.
"It was probably because we just spent a day there," my mom answered.
"A day?" I replied. "What do you mean?" Inter-Island flights were pretty cheap back then, so we visited all of the main islands during our three years.
"Well, flights were affordable, and hotels were more expensive, so we'd take the earliest flight in and the last flight out," she explained.
The conversation about these jam-packed days of my youth lasted a few more minutes. We remembered together that Maui was, in fact, a one-day affair. And we recalled together how we managed to go to Kaui, land, take a zodiac boat to a far-flung beach (that my conservative dad was horrified to realize was a nude beach), hike seven miles back to our car, and then have the airline hold our flight because we were almost late. When we went to the Big Island, my mom somehow managed to take not just me and my sister but also my very best friend and my sister's two friends. The six of us stayed a whole night in a super-cheap government hotel that was super-cheap for a reason.
Remembering the frenetic pace of those days on other islands made me chuckle, because there are definitely days when I try to fit in a few too many activities than most people might. But I always like doing and going and seeing and experiencing and exploring.
But I'm 40 now, and I realize there's beauty in the opposite of jam-packed. That day was a day to just do nothing. I sunk back on the sand a little heavier after hanging up with my mom.
When my husband woke up from his lazy beach nap and joined me closer to the ocean, I told him about my conversation with my mom.
"It explains a lot about me, right?" I asked him.
"Yup," he said. "Yup, it sure does."