Never Far from Hilo
I was born and raised in Hilo in a large, close family made up of nearly every ethnic group in the Islands, where no distinctions were made between blood and calabash and everybody was an auntie, an uncle, a cousin. Our traditions were as varied as our family, so we went to confession and attended mass, accompanied our Apo to the Chinese graveyard to remember the ancestors, and spent weekends at Kawaihae and Nāpō`opo`o near the luakini heiau. We listened to stories about night marchers from Omah who taught school in Waipi`o Valley, and on the island where the volcano is a fact of life, we all knew people who saw Tutu Pele, sometimes even gave her a ride in their car. Growing up on these small, remote islands showed us not only how to live together, but to consider as normal what appear to be contradictory. And everything was possible.
After I graduated from Hilo High School, I left the islands for the first time, to attend the University of Washington where I majored in French, mainly because at Hilo High back then, our choice of languages to study were Latin, Spanish and French. I figured if I studied it, maybe I could go to France, which is what I did when I spent my junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Shortly after I graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in French, I married this good-looking guy I met at the U. Roy went into the Air Force and whenever he had remote tours of duty (Vietnam, Korea,) I took the children home to Hilo to live. When he finally got assigned to Hawai`i , I returned to school and got an MA in English as a Second Language from UH-Mānoa. Over the past thirty years, I have taught French, English and Applied Linguistics.
In 1982, we moved back to Seattle. Once our three children got older and I found myself with some time on my hands, I started writing about all the cross-currents in my life, trying to make meaning out of those kapakahi kalakoa experiences. For the past five years, I’ve been telling these stories on public radio stations in Hawai`i and Washington. I’ve also written stories that have been performed, published and recorded as part of Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Christmas Talk Story.
When we started talking about this newspaper, I jumped right in. “Great idea… let’s do it!” What da heck…I had a few hours to spare. Good thing I had no idea what I was getting into, because – few hours my foot. Dis pepa has now taken over my life! And for someone whose writing tool of choice is a #2 yellow pencil, the technology has been a challenge. But after one year of putting this paper together, go ahead…ask me anything about pdf, dpi, jpeg!
The truth is, this newspaper has been the best thing. It brings together everything I’ve learned and provides opportunities to learn more. It helps us be in touch with others homesick for Hawai`i who telephone, email or just come by to say hi. And here in the Pacific Northwest, I get to run around with a pack of “cousins” as we chase stories, photos and ads, meet deadlines, check proofs and finally...
...deliver Da Pepa.
Ey, good fun!
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