Saturday, June 14, 2008

Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . .

Okay, in honor of the four beautiful years we spent in Hawaii (2000-2005) and my love for all things Iz, I started a playlist with one of my all-time favorite songs as the header. ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). Now if you have only heard the Judy Garland version, you are in for a treat. Somehow Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (let's go with Iz) has managed to make even a show tune achingly beautiful.

Which brings me back to Hawaii. Achingly beautiful. But even more than the beauty of the island, I miss my beautiful Hawaiian friends. Some, like us, have moved away. Some are still there- along with a sizable chunk of my heart. (You know who you are- you who I think of often, and always as my family.)

So I'm in sentimental Hawaii mode, which was exacerbated when my good pal here was telling me about her daughter's birthday party plan: she is having a Hawaiian luau. So as we talked about fun Hawaiian things, she told me about a website that gives you literal Hawaiian translations for names. I was stunned that I was able to find every single one of our names on the list, along with their Hawaiian counterparts.

And so before I wax melancholy, here's a little matching game-- let's see who can figure out which Hawaiian name belongs to which of my kids (Carter, Taylor, Tanner, Riley, Bailey and Sydney):


Stumped? Well, try saying the names out loud. It won't help any, but it's fun to do. (Wish I could be there to watch!) You should have seen us when we first moved to Hawaii and tried to read the road signs: "Wait! Are we on Kamehameha or Kapiolani? Punalu or Punahou? Are we in Waikeli or Wahiawa?" Ugh! It didn't take long before the vowel-dominant words were bouncing off our tongues with relative ease. (And much more easily for Carter and Taylor who looked and sounded Hawaiian before we'd even been there a year! In fact, Taylor still thinks of herself as "part-Hawaiian," and I will have to set her straight before she marks the "Pacific Islander" box on her college apps and gets busted for scholarship fraud.)

Shockingly, we even miss the way our kids would giggle at innocuous Hawaiian words: "The waiter just asked us if we want to eat pupus!!!" or "Look! That street is PupuMomi! Poopy Mommy! And that one is PupuKaki!" Yes, for word nerds and four-year-olds, the fun was never ending.

But back to the sap. I miss the way that people in Hawaii seem to embrace everybody- both physically and emotionally. (I'll never forget our first day at church when the bishop introduced himself and gave us each a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Carter, then 4, said indignantly, "Hey! That guy just kissed you, Mom! That was totally inappropriate!" I couldn't shush him fast enough. He outgrew it and was used to being kissed and kissing within no time. Wish that one would have stuck!) And when somebody gets up to the pulpit at church, the first thing they say is, "Aloha, my brothers and sisters!" and the entire congregation says it right back to the speaker: "ALOHA!"

I miss the way everybody in Hawaii is "auntie" or "uncle." You go to the grocery store and the 16-year-old bagger whom you've never met before says, "Would you like help out to your car, Auntie?" Your kids call every last one of your neighbors and church members "Auntie" this and "Uncle" that, and there is just this huge sense of community and family that comes from it. I loved that.

And I love the tradition of the lei. Mother's Day was a sight to behold as every mother entered the church building, with multiple leis swarthed around their necks. The smell of ginger and gardenia was overpowering! And when a child is baptized or graduates, they are so covered in dozens of leis that they can barely move their necks! (Carter was the happy recipient of this tradition when he was baptized there.)

And I am forever grateful to the people of Hawaii who embraced us when we suffered our greatest loss imaginable- for their love and support and for the way they wrapped their arms around us and held us up when we didn't know how to make it through another day. The Mozos. The Prados. The Bishops. The Smiths. The Clarks. The Bradys. The Chongs. Sally Lee... and so many other friends and neighbors, too numerous to list. I can't imagine grieving and healing anywhere else, with anyone else.

Like the sharp contrast in the valleys and peaks of the mountains in Kaneohe, the depths of our sorrow were startlingly contrasted by the sky-high reaches of our joy. Hawaii also brought us the greatest gift we'd ever received: we left paradise with four-month-old Tanner in our arms. (And with newly-conceived triplets in my belly.)

Speaking of whom, here are the answers to our little game: the Hawaiian names are listed top to bottom in the order of my children from oldest to youngest. (That is, Carter is Kakeli, Taylor is Kailolu, Tanner is Kaneli, Riley is Lilei, Bailey is Pailei, and Sydney is Kikenei.) That was a lot of work for something that is probably only interesting to me! But it's definitely worth checking for your own Hawaiian names on the website.

So ALOHA (which means hello, goodbye, and love) to my wonderful friends from Hawaii! We love and miss you all. It seems like we were all brought together at a magical time and place. I'll leave you with a beautiful shot taken by the late Jon Mozo, photographer extraordinaire, and our dear friend forever:


Konchar Family said...

Hang on, this is gonna be long.
First, it is late and all day I have been singing in my head the Iz Somewhere over the rainbow song and I find myself again on your blog and there is the title, right as it was running through my brain. Crazy.
I loved this post. I love Hawaii, and it is all because of you! Even though I have only been there twice, I feel like I know so much of what you wrote about. Maybe Hawaii snuck through the phone lines during our mega marathon conversations (which I dearly miss). Anyway, I found myself tearing up long before getting to the really touching parts. I will forever love and appreciate all those arms that were there for you when I couldn't be. Mahalo. (Which concludes my very limited Hawaiian vocab, gleened from reading garbage cans around your town.)
I love Hawaiian names and still feel jipped that I didn't end up with Malia, even though it doesn't suit me at all. It just SOUNDS so pretty. So from one word nerd to another, thanks for the quiz.
Well, here I am again, monopolyzing the comments page. I can see I'm gonna need to pace myself. And thanks for including a playlist. I find that most of these songs you and I have already talked about. What? No Weezer?

SpaceyKasey said...

Beautiful. (Mom was wrong, by the way.) Thanks for such an inspirational post.

(I must admit, though, I like to be able to claim to be a biological Auntie!)

prado said...

Tears came to my eyes the whole way through reading what you wrote. Beautifully written, the memories were so vivid with each word you wrote. Sad times and glad times were shared and we still hold all of them close to our hearts. Mahalo nui loa for all that you said and much aloha to all of the Bastian ohana for all that you have given to us!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about timing! I was just listening to this song tonight as I was driving home from dinner, watching the sunset over my paradise and was reminded of singing this song when we were in Mr C's class at Kingswood. Talk about nostalgia and feeling blessed at who we reamin conected with through our lives!

Christy Bishop said...

I couldn't hold back the tears reading your beautiful post! Such a beautiful place and so many beautiful people. I wish we had known each other then! lots of love!