The White Picnic Table - My Family Travels

The day is Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Now I’m not particularly fond of Wednesdays, but this Wednesday, happened to be the most exciting and monumental day of a 16 year old girl’s life. My luggage was carefully being weighed on a silver scale at the always pleasant Southwest Airlines counter, while I watched anxiously with my hands crammed into the pockets of my shorts. My Jeep luggage had not in fact exceeded 55 pounds, and had extra space for sea shells and knick-knacks to come back from the, you guessed it… Hawaiian Islands!! As my family and I hauled the luggage slowly up to the security check point, I was still trying to wrap my mind around flying over 2,908 miles of pure ocean, and landing on a tiny little island. Despite the fear of flying over water, pure elation was running through my veins. My family and I were about to experience not only spring break, but bond strengthening in the making.

My Uncle Chris parked the rental car in the cracked pavement of the driveway. I gawked at the vacation house my dad had reserved for us for the week. It wasn’t the most beautiful thing on Earth but the view behind it was amazing. Positioned gracefully on the coast of Lai’e Point, our sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking. We settled into the house, and let the time difference pull us into restful sleep, because for the next week, we wouldn’t be typical tourists.

During our stay in Hawaii, we tried not to happen across places stuffed with tourists with flowered shirts and decorated with leis. We put significant mileage on our rental cars, hitting spots that held everyone’s interests. My little brother Mateo was itching to go to a park much like Sea World. The only bad part was the scarcity of marine wildlife, and overpriced admission. Naturally, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial, only to find that we had missed the last ferry of the day to the site, so we settled for pictures with its anchor instead. Snorkeling was at the top of my Step mom Athena’s list, collecting tiny little shells in different tide pools, while we picnicked on the sand.  Our family enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center’s adaptations of early Samoan civilizations, and the busy strips and soft-sand beaches of Waikiki. Mateo and Melina, my younger sister played in the North Shore waves and watched the seasoned surfers with awe.

Although this may seem like a superficial family vacation you see on television with the children giggling, couples taking strolls down the beach barefoot, and surfing all day, it was far from it. Most evenings were spent at the vacation house we liked to call home, cooking fresh meat and vegetables from the market. My Aunt Kim taught me how to “Stroll” on the deck facing the water, while my Uncle’s iPod played a slew of Rockabilly songs. Sometimes the kids got cranky and laundry had to be done. Most nights, my uncle and I sat out on a white picnic table tucked away on the deck of the abandoned neighboring house. We’d sit on top of the table with our feet on the bench, eating coconut and talking about life. As we sat there watching the moonlight hit the crashing waves, the thought that we were becoming closer hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Now, my uncle and I can’t go more than a week without seeing each other, and my family is planning a second trip. Not for the scenery, but for those nights at “home” and a white picnick table.

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