Dear Maui News, Happy anniversary to us! Can you believe it's been a whole year since we began this phase of our relationship? Fifty-two weeks of "Sharing Mana'o," yet I still feel like a newlywed.
Your proposal in December 2010 caught me completely by surprise. We were both mourning the departure of Tom Stevens and his onolicious "Shave Ice" column. You came a-callin' and I knew you were on the rebound, but I was flattered by your attention. I asked for 24 hours to think it over, as I was taught to do when faced with a major decision. Of course, what I actually do is think it over for 24 hours, then go ahead and do what my gut told me to do in the first two minutes. Usually it works out for the best.
So I accepted your proposal and on Jan. 12, 2011, "Sharing Mana'o" made its debut in your pages. I was as nervous as a blushing young bride. I actually giggled out loud when I opened the paper to see myself staring back at me from Tom's old space. It seemed unreal then and it still does now. Have we really been doing this for a year?
That first column was written like this one, in the form of a letter. I reminded you of our earlier fling, 35 years ago, when we both belonged to Maui Publishing Co. Although four and a half years really can't be called just a fling. It was a serious but relatively short affair, ended too soon because I was too young and foolish to appreciate what we had.
I appreciate it now, though. From Day One, I have enjoyed unexpected blessings through our partnership. I know I've gotten much more out of it than you have. Each week, I get to indulge myself in daydreams and fantasies, recollection and reflection. I stroll down Memory Lane, frolic in the Playground of my Mind, cruise the Avenue of Cliches. I've shed tears and inhibitions, shared my deepest fears and greatest joys. It's been wonderful exercise and therapy as well as a passion for this sentimental fool. Like dancing, but without the sweat.
And that's just the writing part. The unexpected bonus has been the feedback freely given by our readers. Prompted by my reminiscences of old-time Maui, they've shared their own fond memories and favorite "only on Maui" tales. When I wrote about quitting smoking, they offered moral support and chocolate. Musings on life and love after death evoked dozens of heartwarming, chicken-skin stories from folks of all kinds. I've heard from childhood buddies, former teachers, old flames and new friends.
It continues to surprise and delight me, that in this high-tech, high-speed society, this old-fashioned sense of community prevails. Back in the 1970s, when you and I first began our relationship through KMVI Radio, Mauians welcomed local air personalities like Cliff Arquette (aka Ernie Klack), Riddle King McAvoy Layne and L.D. Reynolds into their homes and hearts. When I married fellow announcer Jim Collins, we received cards and gifts from total strangers. No, not strangers - friends we hadn't yet met. And when I gave birth to our son, McAvoy called in eyewitness (not literally) reports, since he and Kelly Dean were supplying Jim with stress relief at the Vineyard Tavern just as I went into labor. By the time we came home from Maui Memorial Hospital (Jim did sober up in time for the delivery), KMVI listeners had made deliveries of their own. Boxes of hand-me-down baby clothes, handmade blankets, bouquets of flowers, even a lei made from pincushion protea. To again experience that kind of connection, to feel that flow of aloha, has given me immense pleasure. Today, on our anniversary, I wanted to thank you for making that possible.
A few months ago, I ran into an old friend and colleague, a veteran journalist known for his dry humor and curmudgeonly comments. He congratulated me and asked if I was enjoying my new life as a weekly scribe. I answered in the affirmative, perhaps a bit too brightly and bubbly, because he growled back at me, "Yeah? Try doing it for twenty-something years." You know what? I think I shall . . . if you'll have me.
Here's to a fabulous year . . . and twenty-something more!
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is email@example.com.