Here it is, my first column of 2013 and the start of my third year in this space. My plan was to get this installment written weeks ahead of the
due date, knowing I'd be busy with holiday parties and gigs in the days leading up to deadline. I wanted to compose a thoughtful, philosophical piece about the new year and all that it represents to sentimental fools and optimistic dreamers like me.
Ah, but you know what they say about best intentions. Distracted by various news items and personal minicrises, I never got past the first two sentences. Worse yet, in the week
between Christmas and New Year's Day, I didn't even complete my traditional year-end rituals.
Like all good Asian-Americans, I feel tremendous pressure to have my house cleaned and my bills paid before the end of the year. Don't get me wrong; I'm no Suzy Homemaker and between the mortgage and credit cards, I will likely spend my entire adult life in debt. But at least I always organize the piles of junk into nice, neat stacks and I get the monthlies paid on time.
Except for this year. I managed all my payments but not the piles. I did wash my car for the first time in weeks, even vacuumed the inside for the first time ever. But on Dec. 31, when I should have been vacuuming my living room, I was instead relaxing poolside at Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, feeling guilty.
OK, maybe I wasn't exactly consumed with guilt; actually, I was feeling pretty good, looking forward to co-hosting the KBH New Year's Eve party with Wilmont Kahaialii. This would be our third time performing together; usually I have the great pleasure of working with his older brother, better known as Willie K.
My mom and I had decided to turn my gig into a two-night staycation at Maui's Most Hawaiian Hotel, and although it meant losing a full day of valuable housecleaning time, I knew we'd made the right decision as soon as we reached the pali tunnel. All the stress of the holiday season was left on the town side of the tunnel. After gorging ourselves on the fabulous Sunday brunch, we waddled into our room and lounged on our lanai, soaking up the sunshine like a couple of Midwestern refugees.
While Mom napped in our room, I strolled the grounds and took a dip in the pool. I settled down on a bench overlooking the beach to finish this column and was soon interrupted by a cute young man who seemed fascinated by my PlayBook tablet. He was friendly, very polite and we enjoyed a few minutes of small talk. I learned that his name was Brock and he was from Clarksville, Tenn. "As in 'Take the Last Train to Clarksville' by The Monkees?"
"Yes!" he replied, beaming broadly.
"I love The Monkees!"
"Me, too!" He even knew the words to their theme song. At least that's what his mother told me. Did I mention that Brock is 4 years old?
That was the closest I came to romance this New Year's Eve. But the lack of male company didn't keep me or my mom from thoroughly enjoying the final hours of 2012. The hotel's celebration included a delicious dinner with strolling musicians and table-side magic, the always amazing Kupanaha magic show (now in its 12th year at the resort!) and a dance party that continued well after the midnight champagne toast and balloon drop.
For me, the best part of the evening was its theme: "Ka wa ma mua, ka wa ma hope - The future is in our past." So in between the magic and the music, we talked to the mostly tourist crowd about the importance of knowing our history and our heritage. When I say "our," I mean all of us. For, as Wilmont is fond of saying, every one of us here shares a common bond. Whether you're Hawaiian, descended from Polynesian pioneers, or your ancestors came to the islands as contract labor from Asia or Europe, or you just got off the plane from the Mainland, we all came from somewhere else to be here in this special place. That makes us family, ohana.
So as I danced my way into the New Year while Wilmont played DJ and Mom tapped her feet to the beat, I had plenty to think about and be thankful for. Besides family and friends, good health and a good home, I'm grateful for our multicultural Maui. Because embracing our mixed heritage means that I can celebrate the Lunar New Year as well as the Western calendar one. Which means I have another month-and-a-half to get my house in order.
Happy New Year!
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.