December 24th, 1930 ~ New York, NY
Get up before six. Haven’t slept much during the night due to knocking on doors and footsteps and general sleeplessness, so when the steward announces my bath, shortly after 6, I am “Jenny on the spot.” Anne has no urge to get up even for a bath. Arrive at breakfast after all the other passengers are through. Our waiter is distracted and doesn’t give us good service but we don’t mind. The immigration officials having just arrived in the dining saloon, we walk over, have ourselves passed and return to our breakfast while the line forms on our right.
Having docked, we gather our belongings and say our goodbyes to the various officers. Mr. Offer, polite as always. The Doctor, jocular, — glad to get back. Mr. Payn, studiously absorbed in his duties, which involve the rating of two of the crew, who can be neither listed as crew, nor passenger, nor fish nor fowl. Our adieu to the Captain is very touching. He has been ill for the last several days, and we find him in his room, lying on his sofa berth. His pain is tearing his insides out, and he remarks that if we want to see him, we will probably find him in the Long Island Hospital. Nor is his prediction wrong.
Our stewardess is a friendly soul and provides me with a swivel stick in the nature of part of the boat’s decoration. I walk around with it, attached to my coat, and on the dock the custom’s men assure me that I am Santa Claus, and fittingly got up.
The customs examination is a farce. On my part it consists of nothing but conversation, and we discuss the number of passengers the boat has brought up, the excellent treatment accorded us, the low price of passage, and the hard times New York is enjoying. That we did not bring in a boat load of liquor is another regret.
On the dock I receive a letter from the girls in the office telling me not to go to the office until the day after Christmas. It is snowing, a cold wet snow, and we shiver involuntarily, regretting the warm weather left behind. We lead our baggage and packages into a taxi and depart homeward. I drop Anne off at her office and continue with all our baggage, leaving hers at her home for her.
Home looks and feels strange and I wish I were back on the ship.
The fact that the trip is over, and the many nice people from whom we are loth to part. We shall probably never see most of them again, but we regret, nevertheless. And so endeth our voyage and vacation. Our tale is told. Finis.
May 30, 2017 ~ New York, NY
Hawaii always has this hold on me. I’ve made the 10-12 hour flight three times now and I never mind it despite my loathing of the stale tubes. This time was more than a vacation. I had an address and received mail. Locals knew me by name. I was both ready and not ready to leave when the time came. I was ready to move on from the stress on the farm in the final days, but I would give anything to be back in the tropical sun, with my peekaboo ocean view, enjoying all the fresh fruit and veggies I could desire. I was ready to make a surprise birthday visit to Jill and to see my family and friends, but how could I leave the turquoise blue water, the spring fling that might have flung, my animal friends, the sunsets, the palm trees and warm breeze? Home held promise, unlike when I left. It’s a shame sometimes promises get broken.
My last day on the Big Island was glorious. I woke up in a hammock to the sound of the roosters at dawn. I feasted on glorious views and amazingly fresh sushi. I lazed about on a quiet beach drinking an iced Kona coffee and nibbling on macadamia nut chocolates made fresh at the farm a few days prior. I said my goodbyes to the ocean as I watched the sun sink into her being. It was a perfect day, no reason at all to be sad or unhappy. But why couldn’t I keep a smile on my face?
The flight home was uneventful. J, who had come to visit for my last few days, flew home with me. We were seated separately, different cabins of class between us. A metaphor I couldn’t have even begun to understand then. Arrival into JFK was a bit of a shock after the open-air departure from Kona. Too many people, too many sounds. The island bliss was beginning to drain from my body, as if from an hour glass once filled with tropical sand. The Belt Parkway was bumper to bumper all the way home with incessant honking only the way New Yorkers can fill still air. Billboards, strip malls, all the imaginable lights shining in my face, and not a palm tree in sight. Where was I? Why does it seem so foreign to me? The air smells different than I remember. I go to the grocery store the next morning, hungry for comfort. I start shivering the moment I walk in, the chill too much for my tanned skin. The first thing I happen upon is a bin of avocados. A familiar feast, I thought to myself. But… why are they teeny, unripe, and greatly discolored? And I have to pay how much for them?
My reassimilation never quite happened to the home I once knew. I already miss the avocado tree that produced fruit the size of my head, the one who’s bounty I could reap my afternoon snack from. Jean was right. Home, sometimes, looks and feels strange. You change, but the folks at home haven’t. I longed desperately to be back on island time with warmer weather and people.