Remembering Hawaii

A colorful assortment of Hawaiian matches from my parents’ collection

My parents went to Hawaii by themselves in the mid-1970’s to “check it out” and see if it would be okay for a family vacation. They deemed it acceptable, so we made a big trip with the whole family twice over the years. Once I think we even brought along both my grandmothers, but I need to verify.

It’s hazy, sure, but there are very distinct moments I remember.

  • A fresh lei of flowers as we exited the plane.
  • The taste of fresh pineapple, unlike anything I’d ever had prior.
  • Weaving a grass skirt and learning to hula.
  • The luau where I refused to eat any of the pig. I even pouted about it for the rest of the trip.
  • Amazing hula and fire dancers at said luau.
  • Laughing too much whenever a pu pu platter was on the menu.
  • Getting my Hawaiian name on a license plate for my bike. I swore it read KIKI, but apparently the internet says it was KILIKA. (I prefer Kiki.)
  • I remember a terrible sunburn and fighting with my brothers for touching my red arms in the back of the rental car.
  • A bite from a jellyfish that made me super whiny. (This was also paired with the sunburn.)
  • Driving up a winding mountain road (to a volcano?) and encountering a dead end. Feeling like there REALLY needed to be some guardrails–like REALLY really.
  • The smell of coffee.
  • Making sand castles on the beaches.
  • Collecting shells.
  • Lots of smiles.
  • My first experience of Benihana.
  • The huge rainbow on the side of the Hilton.

It was the latter, along with the vibe of the islands that informed my visual style as a designer, I think. Well, mix in the Muppets and Ed Emberley and Charley Harper and a host of other things… But yeah. It was a component. A moment that captured my family at their most adventurous (in the 80’s we would go on a cruise and that was pretty amazing too, but not as visually stimulating.)

It’s fun to look back and think about.