I can get quite introspective on the 5-hour flight between Honolulu and San Jose. It’s because I’m sitting in a symbolic space between my two worlds. It happens more often on the flight back to the mainland (usually Hawaiian Airlines Flight 44)… probably because I’m reviewing in my head a week’s worth of activity, reflecting on all the differences.
I rarely talk to my seat partner, but once in a while I do get into a conversation. And when that happens, it often gets quite deep into who I am, how I got here, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ve met a few others who split time between the Bay Area and Hawai’i. Listening to their stories have been great during this transition.
There was Jeannie Edwards, who I met on a flight back in June. She has a house in Sunnyvale and one in Mānoa, with an adult child living in each. She splits her time between the two homes, but also spends a significant portion of her year traveling the world with her husband. I heard about the careers of her two kids, her life in Okinawa and elsewhere in the world, her love of cruise ships, and how she once raised a family of pigs. We’re facebook friends now, and she and her daughter Pamela actually came to our summer turkey fry party.
On one of my August flights, I met David Love, a full-time dentist in Carmel and part-time plumeria farmer on the Big Island. Several times a year, he makes the trip over to care for his trees, which grow on a patch of land south of Kona. There’s no existing structure on the property, so he carts in all his supplies, and sometimes camps out while tending his plants. He makes cuttings and meticulously prepares them for agricultural inspection in order to sell them to flower-lovers at local Bay Area Farmer’s Markets and his online store: lovestropicalnursery.com. It was wonderful to hear about he came into this line of business from his simple love of the plumeria flower. I told my husband about him, and we were inspired to start looking into buying a patch of land on the Big Island too. Don’t know what we’d grow yet.
And in October I met a woman who I really bonded with. I never got her name, but I remember that she had a ring of turtles tattooed around her bicep. And she was really hungry, so I shared my salad with her. She grew up in Palo Alto and still has a home there, but she escapes to her “happy place” whenever the Bay Area gets too crazy for her to handle. She can do her work from anywhere with an internet connection, so she finds cheap apartments to sublet in the islands and tries to spend as much time there as possible. We drank a bunch and complained about the scary levels of income inequality in the Bay Area.
I think I felt a connection to each of these people because, like me, they were taking the flight back and forth to the islands because of life — not vacation. They had important reasons to be on either side that did not involve cheesy luaus and maitais… or Pier 39 and Alcatraz.
On this most recent flight, I didn’t meet anyone as nearly as intriguing as Aunty Jeannie, Dr. Love, or the Woman with the Turtle Tattoo. I was seated next to a young woman with a hot-pink purse and bright blue yoga pants who proceeded to put on her headphones and watch Chinese movies. But I was still in my introspective, between-two-worlds mood.
So I sat quietly and drafted this blog.