It was the small, magical moments during our holiday to Hawaii that mattered most

Forgive me for my recent radio silence, but I’m struggling to get back into real time since our return from Hawaii.

No doubt, some of you will be interested to know how we fared, having spent so much time reading about my angst in relation to where the fuck to take an anxious, middle-aged man who didn’t want to leave his suburb. But, alas, I am no travel writer, so I’ve decided to style this post in the same way as Jamila Rizvi did here last week in The Age, and focus on the small things that made it feel so special.

Woman sitting on beach in front of view.
I call this photo “Come to Mama!”

I won’t lie, the holiday (in the company of my husband and our twenty-something daughter) wasn’t always the plain sailing experience I had prayed for prior to our departure from Sydney. However, I won’t bore you with the stories of when our two hire cars broke down – leading to the old man’s worldwide ban from AVIS – the loss of his bank card, or the time he turned the wrong way down a street. As I’m sure you can tell from this photo, he had a great time.

Man looking miserable at shopping center.
Have you ever seen such a vision of natural joy? He just LOVES shopping and Halloween.

And by normal standards, I imagine that the sort of holiday woes we experienced are the kind of par-for-the-course shit that everyone goes through, laughs about and puts down to travelling.

Admittedly, the bus tour between Honolulu and Haleiwa on the North Shore was not the anticipated 45 minute journey I had forecast in my itinerary – probably because I read the ‘by car’ calculation of time instead of ‘by stagecoach’ – but at least it included an educational tour of Honolulu’s military bases and a nostalgic trip back to the prison set where Hawaii 5-0 must have been shot. The return journey was even longer, and while none of us expected a three-hour circumnavigation of Oahu that took us into the night, we were all grateful for the scenic experience.

Many lessons were learned: we now know never to declare war on a feisty Hawaiian customer service lady who deals with entitled tourists on a daily basis; we learned that the portion sizes really are as terrifying in the US as we had been led to believe, and that you only need order a few plates to share; and finally, we now appreciate that the mountain temperature on our weather App is no guide to the temperature on the beach.

Mouthwatering plate of Tuna Tataki.
The TUNA!

There were the usual minor medical issues like blocked ears, dehydration, and some ongoing issues with obesity augmented by the portion size of the Rocky Road ice cream they sold at our local bar.

But let me get back to the small things that justified our thousands of dollars spent choice of destination, that still make my heart sing to the tune of Moana each time I think back to them:

  1. The landscape: What’s not to love about a destination that offers world-class beaches, the spirituality of a mountain landscape (that look like it belongs in Peru), and cheap, designer shopping that even the most ardent window shopper will find impossible to resist?
  2. The beaches: I can honestly say that Waikiki, the beaches on the North Shore of Honolulu, and those in Maui lived up to the paradise we had been promised. Living in Australia, it’s hard to impress us when it comes to beaches, but we weren’t disappointed – particularly by the ocean temperature, which made it dead easy to plunge into it several times a day.
  3. The turtles: I’ll be honest, we didn’t see flocks of them like I imagined – a bit like when we visited Kangaroo Valley and never saw any kangaroos – but we spotted several from the shoreline and a couple swam up close to us. Fact: they can be SERIOUSLY BIG MOTHERFUCKERS!
  4. The snorkelling: This time it was the relaxing experience I imagined it could be when I was growing up and wanted to be Jacques Cousteau. Pretty, unthreatening tropical fish were a welcome change from The Great Barrier Reef’s terrifyingly black Gropers and slimy cucumbers, and although NC swore she saw a sea snake, she only told me about it once we were on the plane home.
  5. The music: Hawaiian music comes from the soul and shoots straight through the heart. I will always remember the night the old man asked a Hawaiian singer to sing a song from Moana for NC, who ugly-cried (very publicly), and another when a heavily pregnant dancer performed the Hula.
  6. American coffee: It gets a bad rap around the world, but the choice of flavours is awesome. I mean, how can a Vanilla/Macadamia nut coffee be bad?
  7. The food: OMG! Sex is good but have you ever tried melt-in-your-mouth Ahi (tuna), sealed in hot butter, with sides of coleslaw and coconut rice?
  8. The sunsets: I’m usually half way down a bottle by sunset and never fully appreciate their beauty, but Maui’s sunsets light up the sky like fireworks and are impossible to ignore.
Restaurant view of stunning mountain landscape in Maui.
Not a bad view for lunch.

And then there were the cheap COCKTAILS, an overdue discovery of Fireball whisky. and the old man’s dishcloth dance – after aforementioned whisky. All in all, a myriad of magical moments thrown into twelve days and an experience I’d love to replicate, had the old man not thrown away his passport.

Who Says Family Holidays Can’t Be Fun?

alvin-balemesa-105751-unsplash

It was that time of year again last weekend. The family holiday 2018 had spun back around with all the promise of a mammogram.

Admittedly, the word “holiday” is somewhat of an exaggeration.

The kids will attest to the fact that the word “holiday” is something of an exaggeration. This year – at the old man’s suggestion – our family fun was curtailed to a long weekend, with budget, time off work (he works for himself, from home) and our sanity, cited as his main reasons behind the decision. I imagine, however, that he may also have based the decision on the greater mathematical probability of the four of us walking away from this trip unscathed with only a 48hr window of dysfunction.

A distraction would keep us from straying into dangerous territories.

It was decided that an active holiday would be a better fit this year. We agreed that a distraction would keep us from straying into the dangerous territories of searching questions and judgments – the common ones being, how we ruined the kids’ childhood, which of them is our favorite, were they adopted, and how much we intend to leave them in the will? So, we booked a hotel in The Hunter Valley – a wine-tasting region, about two and a half hours from Sydney which was close enough to evacuate at short notice and removed any possibility of Kurt projectile vomiting on a flight full of unsuspecting travelers, as per Bali ’09.

Acclimatizing your kids to the “wine cures all problems” philosophy of life is one holiday choice.

I should point out that in acclimatizing our kids to the “wine cures all problems” philosophy of life,  I am not looking for a Parent of the Year award anytime soon. I should also mention that our kids are 21 and 24, respectively.

I had been elected to share a room with Kurt to give the four of us a better chance of sleep – because I snore and he never sleeps anyway – but within two minutes of us downing weapons for the night, he had migrated to the sofa bed and the old man was begging to come back into my bed. Apparently, NC was noisily updating a climate model  in her sleep.

The priority of any holiday has to be the hotel breakfast. 

Truth be told, the real priority of the two days had less to do with wine and much more to do with the hotel breakfast. The three of us have been on best behavior over the past few weeks, out of fear that the old man might pull the plug on such an extravagance and eating strategy had to be discussed furtively. However, it was discussed at length, down to the final detail of who would secrete the miniature croissants and Vegemite pots back into the room. Needless to say, Kurt was elected for this task, on the basis of his natural talent for testing the law.  And apart from cold bacon – the downside of strolling into breakfast five minutes before the buffet closed – breakfast was a resounding success.

Kurt was elected to steal extra croissants from the breakfast room, on the basis of his criminal record.

Indeed, we ate and drank well, which is what holidays are all about, even though dinners turned out to be almost as interesting as musical bedrooms what with NC being a vegetarian, my attempt at dairy-free (this week), the old man’s passion for burgers, and Kurt’s metabolism, which relies on a minimum of three bowls of Aldi’s Chocolate Pillows per day or it shuts down.

We have developed a newfound maturity as a family.

It turns out that we are developing a newfound maturity as a family, and a compromise was found. ie. we ignored the fact that NC is a vegetarian.

 

 

 

Family Holidays and Wounded Male Pride

What I particularly love about the holiday season is that it brings out the best traits in a truly dysfunctional family.

Pussy ParkerI am so enjoying reading the wondrous family holiday stories of my fellow bloggers at the moment, who are at one with their families, secreted away in idyllic holiday oases with their perfect children, in sickeningly harmonious environments.

Not exactly what’s going down at Dysfunctionality House.

This holiday has been a strange one, where the old man and I have found ourselves on the cusp of empty-nesting, yet not quite there yet.

The house has felt very empty without the smell of burnt toast to wake us, the sight of the back of NB’s head permanently in our fridge and giggling teenage girls ringing on the doorbell at 4am, while NC rock-collects in Thailand.

Kurt, meanwhile, has taken to only venturing out of his bedroom when he needs food, money or smokes.

My son’s complexion is turning a worrying shade of beyond-sallow from too little sun and I worry that he may develop Rickets soon if he doesn’t get outside. Even more concerning was when I did manage to bribe him down to the public pool the other day and he was physically tired within 50m of our house and then sunk to the bottom of the pool to contemplate life like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.

Typical teenager angst, or worrying reclusive tendencies, I’m not sure?

Which has left the old man and myself in the disconcerting position of having to entertain each other, without the freedom to completely do what we want because we still have to be responsible for the white hermit that resides in our attic.

More worryingly, given the choice I think we would both secretly be happy to do our own thing. It seems that we have reached that point in our marriage of comfortably taking each other for granted, so far without regret. I could quite happily tap away at the computer most of the day, eat chocolate, drink wine, read magazines and go for the occasional dip at the local pool; the old man could happily tap away at the computer, watch the cricket and nap.

But because this is our family holiday, an innate sense of duty to do things together has guilted us into making some effort.

Which puts the pressure on.

And nowhere is that pressure more apparent than when we are in the car together, en route to some exotic destination we feel we should visit.

It is in this very situation that I have borne witness to, several times at least this holiday, a demonstration of male pride at its finest.

Perhaps men are feeling a little less secure these days after Julia’s misogyny speech and Miley’s twerking session and feel the need to regroup and exert some authority again?

Because normally in our relationship, male pride only really comes to the fore in challenges of physical strength or getting technology to work – which I obviously allow. Opening jars, biting the tops off beer bottles, taking charge of the remote control or getting the Internet to work are all valid reasons for allowing a demonstration of male pride.

Where male pride is abused is when the old man is behind the wheel of the car. As was proven the other day when like a lion needing to remind his lioness of who is King of the jungle, the old man ended up making a fool of himself while trying to park the car at the beach.

Like many couples, there is an unspoken rule in our relationship that when we go anywhere together in the car, the old man drives.

Which used to work up until recently when our lifestyle and work roles changed with our move to the city. The old man now straggles runs to work and so rarely drives these days, whereas I do a lot of driving with my job.

And the old man’s limited experience on the roads this year shows has rendered his driving skills a little questionable, whereas I have become more anally anxious confident about driving.

And I admit that sometimes, when we are together in the car these days and he takes the wheel, I can become somewhat over-critical; some might even call it ‘cocky’.

Yet the old man still refuses to admit that I am now the better driver even though the evidence is stacked up against him, since I have only recently repaired, at great expense, several dents to the rear end of my car that were caused by his poor judgment and penchant for reversing into columns in car parks.

As you are all no doubt aware, parking within walking distance of any beach in Sydney over the Christmas vacation is impossible, but when you have a pussy for a parker, it is a no-go – (just saying, but I could have parked a bus in that space).

After only the first attempt to reverse into the space, the old man ordered me to get out of the car and direct him in. I offered to park the car instead…then very quickly got out of the car. Back out he went again and started reversing back in at completely the wrong angle again (unless his aim was indeed to run me down on the pavement).

I offered to park the car a second time.

By this time we were attracting an impressive array of cars behind us, all secretly hoping that the old man wouldn’t get in the space so that they could nab it for themselves. Under pressure now, he pulled out a third time and began hurriedly trying to reverse again and then stopped. This time I walked up to the passenger window to receive a succession of expletives – apparently he couldn’t see me through the rear window – my fault, of course. Back to the rear of the car I went again and attempted to direct him into the space but the car was now aiming directly for the tree next to me and the tension really began to mount. So I walked around to his door and signalled for him to (maybe) get out of the driver’s seat. His pride would have been less wounded if I’d shot an arrow straight through his heart. His impulsive reaction was to roar something incoherently yobbish at me that included lots of F words, slam the gearstick into ‘drive’ and speed off up the hill, leaving me stranded on the road.

Family holidays.

Woman Flu And Spreading The Love

Flu Warning
Flu Warning

I know you’re all sick to death of hearing about my flu. But it is now day 12.

Just sayin.

So I’m wondering if it’s time for THE blood test?

You see my body still feels like it has done the Tour de France, drug-free and with no training.

Twice, at least.

And I know that’s not normal.

And I’m feeling a tad guilty because I do believe that I successfully spread my little virus fairly successfully around the whole of the south-west of England during our Mince Pie Tour of Europe over Christmas. With the commitments we had, feeling sorry for myself in bed and watching back to back repeats of British ‘XFactor’ on such a socially heavily scheduled trip was never really an option, no matter how appealing it sounded.

You can’t let people down when you see them every three years, so you share your germs as well as your stories.

The Tour took us on an emotional roller coaster via Brittany in France and around the south west of England. The winds were obviously blowing in the right direction and when the flu virus spotted the easy target of my pathetically inadequate, newly-acquired Aussie defense system, it jumped at the chance to create some real physical havoc.

Seriously, who gets the flu and THEN a grade 9 cold all in the same seven days?

The most frustrating aspect of my illness was that due to the extremely painful symptom of what felt like a lacerated throat, I couldn’t even moan audibly about how terrible I felt. I certainly couldn’t protect myself from the unsympathetic verbal assaults shot in my direction by CLOSE family, every time I dared to mention how f*cking awful I was feeling.

Which was ALL the time.

You see, when you’re ill on holiday, no-one wants to know or really cares about how miserable you are feeling for fear of spoiling their own holiday expectations. Sympathy certainly wasn’t on offer and with our packed schedule of meetings with family and old friends to rival a Royal tour, there was no opt-out clause. Which mean’t I had no choice but to spread my germs, really.

Of course I felt bad about spreading my disease so blatantly to friends who had come to see us with the best intentions; particularly when my dastardliness involved children. At one point I did consider wearing one of those medical masks favoured by Asians to avoid contamination but the old man outrightly refused to let me, fearing that the onus would then be on him to take responsibility for all communication. So instead, I sewed my germs, croaking and snuffling my way around Europe, with only REALLY old people and babies let off the hook.

Fortunately, I did have some obvious symptoms to prove my malaise (like my pathetically croaky voice and fugly pallid skin), beyond the ‘faking it’ shaky limbs and headaches ordinarily associated with a serious bout of the flu, otherwise everyone might have come to the conclusion that I’d just aged horribly over the past few years and simply looked sh*t.

‘Attractive’ is not exactly how I’d describe my look over the past ten days, which was unfortunate when I obviously wanted to look younger or at least thinner than the last time we visited the homeland.

As I mentioned in my previous post, in fairness the extra kilos were due in part to MY rare strain of flu which uncharacteristically induced hunger rather than starvation, and with decent Chinese, Indian and Doner kebabs to catch up on, I made the most of my need to feed my illness.

After twelve days of sickness, I had unfortunately gained four kilos and was forced to request special help from the Virgin air hostess to help lever my new Kardashionesque ass into my economy seat home; although luckily (and FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER) we were upgraded to ‘extra leg-room’ seats, (which gave us a whole extra 4” at least), meaning we could cross AND un-cross our legs, although we did then require glasses to watch the miniscule tv monitors.

Anyway, according to the old man, I’m finally beginning to look better; the implication being that I’m well enough to cook, resume my domestic responsibilities and stop boring the pants off my readers about my woman flu.

Flu Warning courtesy of mrofiq at www.flickr.com