Mahalo / 감사합니다

When the idea is first presented, it’s framed as a vacation. “Just think, it’s your last semester of college! Wouldn’t it be great to take a little week-long break in the middle of it?” Months later, when I start counting the actual number of prior commitments I have (two jobs, a full course load, and an internship which is integral to my impending graduation), I tried to back out of the trip. At that point, it was no longer framed as a vacation, but rather a mandatory excursion, one which I was obligated to attend. “The house is booked, you already paid, you don’t have a choice, you’re coming.”

The plan was to meet my brother’s new in-laws in Hawaii. We were all staying in a house in Kona. The in-laws speak very little English. It was going to be interesting. Our first misadventure occurred when my traveling cohort and I stayed up all night to drive to Oakland Airport at 3am, only to realize that we were actually flying out of San Francisco Airport. I know this sounds like we are very dumb idiot people, but you’re only half right about that. We were flying out of SFO, but flying into Oakland on our return, which gives credence to my theory that airlines are running experiments on us to see how much fuckery we’ll take before we inevitably resolve to start traveling by hot air balloon.

The house was enormous, with seven bedrooms, a koi pond, pool, tennis courts and separate pool house. Upon our arrival the owner told us what I imagine he believed to be the most impressive thing about the house: that after he’d purchased it from the bank, he’d arrived to find Dog the Bounty Hunter living at the house. Thinking about those silky blonde, beaded locks in the same space as I was now in made me deliriously happy. Although, upon reflection, that was probably just the fact that by that point I’d been awake for over 48 hours.

The high point of our trip was discovering the kava bar in town. Somehow in the sea of overpriced restaurants and red-faced, shouting tourists decked out in their finest Hawaiian print garb, there exists a little spot where locals gather. The locals (mostly men) drink kava and talk shit for hours. Politics, tourists, the women who pass… they discussed it all with the half-closed eyes and relaxed demeanor of kava enthusiasts.

The low point of our trip was two-fold. Visiting the Hilton and witnessing the completely ostentatious grounds, including dolphins in a tiny little pen, was incredibly depressing. That experience paired with the luau that took place at a hotel—a good reminder of what happens when a rich culture gets boiled down to its lowest common denominator to be packaged and sold to tourists—were the low points. Overall it was a good trip; my general laziness was interpreted by locals as “being on island time,” so it’s nice to know that in some places of our country they won’t make you feel shitty for just wanting to nap 18 hours a day. Speaking of which, I need to now finish this $27 airport Bloody Mary and squeeze in an hour nap before my flight leaves. Mahalo.

Zooey Mae has been working as a writer monkey for Synthesis Weekly since 2007. Her favorite things include (but are not limited to), Jeffrey Brown, bubble wrap, Craig Thompson, pillow forts, receiving handwritten letters, and whiskey. She spends her free time stockpiling supplies for the impending robot Apocalypse and avoiding eye contact with strangers.