You don’t appreciate how different two cultures can be until you leave the more better one, spend some time in the less better one, then return to the more better. The differences between life here in the middle of the Pacific and the walking death of Pennsylvania are immense.
For starters, the obvious…the weather. Since I have returned it has been in the mid 80’s during the day, mid 70’s in the evening, a steady cooling breeze from the trades, and not a drop of rain. Compared to back east where it was cloudy, cold, rainy, foggy, and dreary all the time. The weather out here is so pleasant and reliable, after a while you don’t even notice it. You can plan out your day to do most anything and not have to worry if weather will ruin it. Back east, the weather dictates everything. The clothes you wear, the activities you can do, how much you need to prepare for the coming winter.
Said weather is reflected in the attitudes of the people. Here in Hawaii, everyone seems genuinely happy and content. Sure, there are problems to deal with as with anyplace else, but one gets a general sense of optimism here. The coming days and seasons are looked forward too because the weather is a non factor for the most part. Not so much in Pa. Right now there is a sense of dread and foreboding as all the trappings of a really short summer come to an end. Houses are sealed off for the coming cold. Fuel for the furnace, firewood for the fireplaces, is gathered. The tools of autumn come out. Rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows to catch the decaying leaves as they fall from the trees. Bulky and heavy clothes are brought out of storage. Some people try to talk up the cooler season by expressing relief the heat, such as it was, is over with. There is a constant, palpable pessimism which you can feel. Nobody in Pa. is ever happy with the weather.
I had pretty much forgotten how pleasant and polite everyone is in Hawaii. Aloha and Mahalo can be heard everywhere. Worker bees are cordial, people in the stores, tourists excepted, are considerate. One can expect to be able to cross a street full of vehicles without fear of getting run over.
In Pa. it’s the complete opposite. Grouchy workers, nasty customers, rude people, and drivers who think it’s cool to run people off the road. I fell into the same mindset when I was out and about back there. Some nasty old bat in a car would scowl at me for no apparent reason. She would get the finger and a few choice words back. Say please or thank you and people look down at you like you just insulted them. It’s a hateful society up there and they can all go fuck themselves as far as I’m concerned.
The people out here are in general very healthy. The weather helps as does all the activities. Most people in Hawaii lead very active lifestyles, something I need to start doing again. You see runners, bicyclists, surfers, kayakers, divers, and just about any other activity you can think of going on out here. People are generally enjoying life and all it has to offer.
In Pa., well, there is no joy. Work consumes most everyone’s lifestyle. The almighty job and then taking care of the house. Very few people I know of back there seem to truly be having a good time, rather they are just getting on with life, doing the expected, then waiting around to die. The medical industry in Pa. is the biggest employer and it’s easy to see why. Nobody lives a healthy lifestyle and eventually they get so out of shape, so sedentary in lifestyle, they have to rely on the medical industry just to keep alive. It’s sad to a point when one has had a chance to escape and see some of the world and then return to see how uninspired these people are.
I’ve been back in ‘Haulwhyya’, as they pronounce it back east, less than a week and already feel much more better. My attitude has improved greatly, the sun is tanning my pale skin back to normal again, and it’s just goddam nice to be back. I still have this allergy/asthma/pneumonia/or as they call it in Pa., ‘cancer’ because all sickness is cancer in Pa, but whatever it is, I need to shake off. I’m not coughing quite as much, and I’m very short of breath more because I didn’t do anything physical when I was in Pa. but over time I will be feeling like my old ornery self again. The place I am living sits up on a hill so I get a bit of exercise just walking it everyday.
It’s so nice to see people of all ages who are out doing things. Walking upright, moving, and smiling. Very refreshing. I’ve got a new part of the island to explore which looks to be a lot of fun. I’ll be writing about it to be sure. But overall, it’s just so nice to be back in someplace where I can feel alive again. It was a long, miserable summer and I will never do it again. This old captain belongs on a tropical island.