Friday, December 4, 2009

These are our people

I have many cousins. My brother and I grew up with cousins during a time in Hawaii when neighborhoods and valley life was simpler. Through my eyes today, the joys of being a kid in Kuliouou Valley, on Oahu seem simple and yet I knew even then how complicated grown-up life was. I was born a sensitive little girl with antennae finely tuned and emotional feelers ripe for taking on others energy. Having groups of cousins who lived in different parts of the island of Oahu during the 1950's gave us something to look forward to and other kids to stir the mix.

My dad drove a beauty second-hand station wagon in those days, a navy blue Nash Rambler. In every way it was the perfect car for a two-kid family like ours. There was the back seat that flipped down so we could watch the movies at the Waialae Drive-In ... gone today of course and in its place a storage unit builder. We rented space there in our wanderings and yes I thought of those old Drive-In days. The old Nash took us around the old Pali Road to Kailua to be with our cousins who had a big pool and the sandy access beach. Our cousins, these are our people. Another set of cousins (10 of 'em) lived in the same valley as we ... I remember the Saturday morning cookie baking routine that took place in their house. Like a well-greased kitchen baking cookies for 10 kids once a week seemed like such a different world to me.

The small kid times lay a foundation of connection that served us well for most our lives. Once inseparable during the early years, the difference between us grew and the complexities of our parents' kuleana foibles, short-comings and illnesses widened the gaps. The subject of 'these are our people' is something Pete brought up last night. He'd been thinking about this for a couple days, remembering the weeks we spend camped on our cousins' lawn in Lanikai on O`ahu's Windward side. Forty years later, I was spending days and nights with one of those cousins who had been my kid-time foundation. The six foot six inch giant of a cousin keeps a home with his partner of decades, his youngest daughter and a six year old granddaughter. When we were new to the lawn there in Lanikai, the neighbors would walk within inches of our Subaru camp/home. Behind the yellow Hawaiian print curtains that created a fragile yet real privacy screen for our sleeping quarters, Pete and I established our temporary place. The neighbors were very accepting of us. Most met our gaze when we rolled out from behind the curtain still sleepy from our night in the car. One morning, "C" greeted us with her cup of hot tea as we woke from the night of sleep. Her neighbors were walking past at the same time. "Hi, how ya' doing she said to the neighbors as they walked." The neighbors stopped to chat. My cousin as I recall never skipped a beat as the neighbors looked from her to us. "Oh, these are our people," she said. We were their people, and we felt cared for.

The Mohist, the followers of Mozi of 5th Century B.C. China were more interested in doing good
than being good.

Who are your people, and who considers you their people?

2 comments:

Joan Tucker said...

Great question.My people are a motley crew.I weave in and out of their lives.I left ...so my life is marked with the stigma of she who left the clan. I go back and tend to folks and act like the auntie and fix and rework things.I have learned that my people can hurt me alot and that a healthy dose of realism is ok. I keep some distance not without love but respect for our differences.
I offer a room to a sister, this and that always weaving in and out. At one point I thought you could just shut it all out.. make up all new people.. that does not work for me. I am tied to my people for good or for bad.There are moments when it hurts so bad to turn the other cheek .. sometimes I want to run but I have the memory that that did not work either. The rich fabric of my people is beautiful in its own way.
Challenging, dynamic and it shapes who I am. As I age, I am clearer that I am me and not them. I can be different, shape different paths, have different values, love different people.. yet under it all ..the my people thread is there. Always round trees and fall colors, always love of advocates and stories, always a melancholy and romanticism.. it all is woven in..to come to peace with this may be one of life's most difficult tasks. To have love and bou ndaries, to love unconditionally and also stay safe. A rough road and a bumpy path. I try to add new people to my circle and expand the
sense of community, Sometimes the most support has come from folks who are new to my world and that is ok.Stay well, M and P JT

Mokihana and Pete said...

JT, thanks for the bountiful comment and the same to you and the L ...stay well. Mokihana