“I was able to go back home to Kailua this past Christmas. It was the first time in nearly two years I’ve been in Hawaii. Naturally, the reason for my return was family; 3 of my parents’ 4 children no longer live in-state and we were all back for my brother’s wedding.
Like any prolonged exposure to family, it started off pleasant and enjoyable, but as more family members arrived and unpacked in my parents’ house, the more cramped and busy it became.
At its critical mass, the house had 11 adults and 2 children sharing quarters. Couches became beds, there were two-hour waits for the bathroom, parking was an elaborate orchestration, and there was virtually nowhere for anyone to go for any kind of solitude. The compounding pressure of numbers started to wear on me – I became embarrassingly frustrated and impatient, especially considering I was with my family on vacation and away from the blustery winter weather of Seoul.
Meanwhile, Kailua as a town mirrored this very same dynamic. The town of my childhood has transformed fundamentally in the last decade. Two-plus hours in traffic to go to the grocery store, another 15-20 minutes just to find parking, and even the most secluded and hidden beach accesses I know were packed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday. At least it’s not below freezing, I reminded myself…”