Saturday, August 18, 2012

hello goodbye i love you

I think that is what "Aloha" means.

Not content, apparently, with moving to the beachy San Diego lifestyle, the Geekyfamily are vacationing in Maui this week too. I feel like a beach junkie. The move down to San Diego was pretty tough, but I'm proud of how we handled it. We're settled-ish now. Finding a new normal and getting into a SoCal groove. I've almost got out of the habit of carrying sweaters everywhere.

Long before our world was thrown into disarray, we had spontaneously booked a family holiday to Maui. Our first proper "summer holiday" in fact, rather than a whirlwind relative visiting tour (no offense intended to lovely relatives who may be reading and whose hospitality we have much enjoyed in the past!). We debated the wisdom of going, new job for me, new expenses, more disruption. Perhaps it would be more stressful than relaxing, we wondered.

You can see from the picture that the wondering stopped as soon as we got here. I'm dreadful at just being in the world. My mind is always racing ahead or pondering back. The islands are perfect for slowing time and disconnecting from the outside stuff and reconnecting with the elements and with what's inside.

I wish I could just be in the world the way children are when at the beach. That I could run back and forth from the waves to the shore for hours, filled with purest glee, like Geekyboy can. That I could spend all morning bobbing like a cork in the ocean then all afternoon paddling around the pool until my fingers were prunier than prunes, like Geekygirl can. I did all of this today, I was almost there. But I had this blog post percolating in a corner of my mind most of the time.

I was marveling at the perfection of the day. Beaches are always wonderful, children always have fun, even when the water is chilly, the sand has scratchy pebbles, and piles of fly infested seaweed assault their nostrils, but the beaches here in Maui are beaches from dreams. The water is the clearest, sparkling, dappling blue, with flashes of silver fishies under the gently breaking waves. The beach slopes gently, no sudden drop offs that leave you suddenly out of your depth. It is bracketed with rock pools perfect for exploring. The sand is not only silky smooth underfoot, it also forms solid, satisfying castles. The weather is perfect. Warm, but not stifling, with just enough breeze and humidity to  mingle the scents of plumeria blossoms and ocean spray into an aroma uniquely Hawaii.

Thoughts flashed by as I tried to just be in the world. Chasing the children along the shallow shorebreak. "Wish I had time for a pedicure, my toenails look shabby. Why do we women have to spend so much time on ridiculous grooming? When did unmanicured toenails become embarrassing? Wish I hadn't spent so many years worrying about how I look in a bathing suit. Every year I'll look worse than the year before, so I'm going to be happy with how I appear right now. The 70 year old me will look back fondly on this 41 year old body. Forty one. I'm forty one. Midlife, give or take a year or two, I expect. If I'm lucky. How do I want to live the rest of my years?"

I once read that as parents we have become obsessed with setting our kids up for a good future, with figuring out what they should learn (Mandarin or Cantonese? Yoga or Tai Chi, Modern Dance or graphic art?), when what we can really give to them that matters is something more elusive. A happy childhood. I'm one of the lucky ones in that I really did have that myself. The beaches of my early childhood may have been those of the north east and the south west of England, beautiful, but at the time littered with crisp packets and fag ends, and so bracing that we built sand castles in our winter coats, but still they formed the foundation of happy memories.

As I watched my little pale skinned kids slowly bronzing through their factor 50, delighting in the pure sensations of sand and water, I felt satisfied that this week we really are providing them with those happy memories, burned by ultraviolet into their synapses. Like the new freckles that have sprung from the activation of the pigmention genes in their skin, something tangible about this experience will remain with them even as time marches on.