When friends inquire about our spring break vacation, I should just show them my Google search history to help provide some insight:
things to do in Maui when it rains
address Maui urgent care center
cancellation policy, Molokini snorkel tour
how to get a trapped bird out of a house
how to photoshop six-pack abs
can I buy Koloa Coconut Rum in California
Turns out, Ono is not only a fish commonly found off the coast in Hawaii, it’s also a good mascot for our recent vacation, albeit with a slight spelling modification: Oh. No.
Oh no, the weather forecast calls for rain the entire week we’re here. Oh no, the kid woke up with an eye infection. Oh no, the kid now appears to have both an eye infection and strep throat. Oh no, the other kid squished my arm while I was wearing a sleeveless dress and started calling me ‘Lil Beefer.
It would have been easy to slip into a sullen mood when I was greeted every morning by grey skies, steady rain, and hunched palm trees seeking protection from the pummeling wind. But I was in Hawaii, dammit, and there are no bad days in Hawaii.
So I forced myself to be happy.
I would cut myself off mid-thought if I was going negative. It felt ridiculous at first, but then it became a weird little game. Something like:
I can’t believe I’m sitting on the beach under a cloud cover so thick, it makes my skin look blue. But… think of how happy the dermatologist will be when I show up for my next skin cancer check without a hint of a tan. Besides, my pale skin would sizzle like a slice of spam on a flattop if I were outside in the tropical sunshine on a cloudless day. It’s better this way.
Undeterred, I floated in saltwater while being pelted with rainwater, all while keeping an eye out for lightening because with the way things were going, I couldn’t be too careful. Fortunately, the ocean was warm and the giant sea turtle that surfaced for a breath right next to me was friendly. Good things happen all the time. Even in the rain.
I learned that my new wide-brimmed sun hat also works well as an umbrella, that rum cocktails are delicious in any weather, and that the sound of ocean waves can still shush you to sleep even after the stormiest of days.
Despite the minor disasters that befell us, most things worked out in the end. Antibiotics got my daughter feeling better and back on the beach in less than a day. The wayward bird found his way out of the house with minimal drama. The canceled snorkel tour was replaced by an epic hiking adventure involving waterfalls and rope swings. Lunardi’s carries my new favorite rum. And I’ve only been called ‘Lil Beefer once since returning to the mainland.
The trick will be learning to apply my stubborn cheerfulness back in the real world. It can be harder to look for the good amidst the mundane, but I’m trying. Just as I was grateful to be waking up on a tropical island, I’m also trying to be grateful waking up to a life filled with laundry, carpools and orthodontist appointments. It’s all a gift and it’s all fleeting.
Enough days have passed that I’m only dwelling on the good memories from our trip. Ono is once again a fish instead of a vacation catch phrase. And as I search for the moments of joy in my everyday life, I realize that although I didn’t leave the island with a deep dark tan, I did leave with a change in perspective that will hopefully last longer than bronzed skin.