In a few minutes we'll land in Honolulu, and I imagine the door opening and me stepping onto a stair leading to the runway. Bronzed, wide-eyed women are awaiting us, their arms filled with leis, ready to drape one over me as I touch the tarmac. The sun will burn down on me and the women will smile at me and welcome me with their island sing-song. "Aloha." But of course I'm dreaming. There will be no ukeleles playing, no Hawaii 5-0 soundtrack beating in the background, no pineapple will be thrust on me by an adoring local. We'll land at a modern airport that will most likely be undistinguishable on the inside from Denver or Phoenix or Miami.
I've waited so long to come here that I've missed that quaint Hawaii that one sees in the movies of the '50s and '60s, but then again I wasn't even born then, so why am I melancholy for a time I could have never known? I'm strangely touched, as if I had, on purpose, denied myself this guilty pleasure called Hawaii. And now I finally get to experience the enchanted islands I've so far dismissed as a haven for those Americans who don't have a passport and thus for whom this is as far 'overseas' they'll ever get. Hula skirts, Elvis songs, average surfers scoping out impressionable tourists, tacky souvenir shops -- I'm ready for anything this purported island paradise will throw at me.
copyright 2007 - Hunter Braum