I've been struggling a lot lately with the concept of "aloha spirit" that is so frequently talked about in Hawaii. I know that people like to think of Hawaii as somehow different from everywhree else. In a lot of ways, it is, but I'm not convinced that it's different in the way that people want it to be. Here is a series of events that has led me to question how "different" Hawaii really is from anywhere else:
In late December, a Kahului man shot to death his own 19-year-old son in a dispute over, of all things, the son having left a game controller on the floor. It was the first murder on Maui in 2008, but it was followed shortly by:
The first murder of 2009. A Kahului woman stabbed her boyfriend to death in a dispute over her alcoholism.
On New Year's Eve, my roommate's car was broken into. About a week and a half later, it was stolen (presumably by the same people) and has not been recovered. I doubt we'll ever see it again. (Don't feel too bad. It was a POS car, only $800, and he didn't even have it insured.)
Last week, a man followed another man into the store where my husband works and started a fight with him that broke one of the store's window frames. It turns out to have stemmed from a road rage incident, although witnesses all felt that the instigator was high on drugs.
And I could go on, but I think you get the point.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've had people tell me how jealous they are that I live in Hawaii. It honestly perplexes me. In the most basic sense, Hawaii is no different than anywhere else. For the most part, you can't get by without a job. I don't know anyone here who spends all day on the beach. We all work. We all go to the store. We all sit home some nights and watch TV. And we all have problems.
Hawaii isn't some magical place that's outside the normal realm of human existence. Maybe if you could be on permanent vacation it would be, but that's not reality for 99% of the human race.
So does "aloha" really exist? I think it does. But I just see it as basic kindness. I've lived in other places where people are just as friendly and genuine. And I've lived in other places where they're not as friendly or genuine. I haven't seen anything special yet, but here is a nice story to leave you with:
In November, we were in the middle of a move that left our bank account briefly depleted. I went to Costco to buy some rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, not knowing that they don't take credit cards (I never shopped at Costco before moving here) and unaware that my husband hadn't deposited the cash our roommate had given him, as he had told me he would. Needless to say, when I got to the checkout, I didn't have enough cash to buy both bags of rolls that I wanted. It was excrutiatingly embarrassing. I was fumbling for the cash to buy just one bag when the lady in line behind me graciously gave me the money to cover the second bag.
It's two months later, and I still feel so grateful.