Monday, July 22, 2013

Hawaii Hates Me

So, as many of you have probably discerned from my various forms of social media, I spent the past couple of weeks on a trip to Oahu and Maui, Hawaii. This sounds like a fun, stress-free adventure, does it not?

Well, while my trip did have its fun moments and even its occasional stress-free moments (read: that time I took a 3-hour nap accidentally during scheduled free time), this was not your average Hawaiian vacation. This was my two-week stint as chaperone and blogger for children's choir tour. On this trip, I sat through seven choir concerts, ate 21 mass-group catered meals, and took approximately 3 million pictures of my chaperone group and their friends. Even these things in themselves would not have been that bad. Really! I don't mind. (Much.)

The problem with this trip, my friends, is that Hawaii hates me. I am convinced. The mere combination of the islands' blazing tropical sun and my paper-white skin's unwavering ability to burn should be enough to prove this Hawaii-Sarah animosity. The sun, however, turned out to be just one small problem of a whole slew that America's fiftieth state threw at me over the course of the trip.

First, Hawaii proved to be rather anti-Sarah in its presentation of its history, from sovereign state to U.S. state. In all the history lessons we had during our time in Hawaii, I kept leaving with an insatiable desire to apologize to every native-Hawaiian-looking person I came across. "I'm sorry we stole this country from you!" "I'm sorry we put your queen, a close personal friend of Queen Victoria, in lockdown in her own home because we'd decided her nation wasn't a nation anymore!" "I'm sorry these choir kids are walking around with their audio guide headsets plugged in to Beyonce Pandora stations instead of the actual audio guides!" The history lessons were rough. Do Hawaiians actually resent the US at this point for the various injustices performed against them in colonial times? Probably not - or at least not enough for it to be remotely normal for a random Indiana white girl running around the imperial palace apologizing to people. But still, the overall impression from these lessons? Oh my god Hawaii hates me.

When not in history lessons, there was, of course, the whole sun issue. The angle of the sun in this unreasonably-close-to-the-Equator US state is particularly unforgiving to a burnable person like myself, and I had my fair share of sun troubles during my 12 days on the island. My spray-on sunscreen turned out, unsurprisingly, to be almost totally worthless. Luckily for me, though, the temperature during my first beach trip wearing this sunscreen was so high that I only stayed out for a half hour or so before retreating into the totally empty sea of pool chairs situated in the shade of the hotel's thirty stories. I emerged from this first day with one slightly burnt shoulder and a bright red 2-inch burned patch on my left wrist, but little other color. A success! A few days later, though, we headed out for our hike up Diamondhead Mountain. News had trickled down from our tour director (who was clearly insane) that the hike was both not very strenuous and comprised of large indoor stretches. Everything about this was, of course, untrue, but, like the idiot I am, I headed out pumped for a light hike and wearing exactly no sunscreen.

I should really have seen from miles away that this day would be trouble. Do we all remember my miserable day at Manoventurehell during Vision training last summer? This one? Well, this hike had far too much in common with that day for it to ever have gone well. It was forced physical activity with a large group; it was a ridiculously hot, sunny day; it forced me to elevations rather higher than I typically enjoy; and it even found me wearing the exact same bro tank that gave me the moronic-looking Great Burn of 2012. By the time I'd consumed my weight in the strawberry shave ice sold at the bottom of the mountain and returned to our hotel, my shoulders and chest were just about identical in color to said frozen beverage. Fortunately, though, some areas of my upper body were immune from the burn: those covered by my ill-chosen clothing! Huge white swaths remained where the tank top sat, along with various sizes of snow-white stripes from bra straps and, my particular favorite, the straps from my drawstring backpack.

Jokes aside, this burn did fade almost shockingly fast by my standards - the Great Burn of July 2008 was still detectable at Christmas - but as I had to don a strapless dress about five hours post-hike for our dinner cruise, don't worry, friends - it still ensured that I looked really, really stupid in a large number of our pictures. With this suntan gone wrong, the Hawaii hate fire continued to burn.

The most improbable way in which Hawaii clearly hated me, though, was neither the historical tension nor the blazing, Irish-skin-destroying sun. Rather, Hawaii most obviously hated me in the near-daily injuries it kept throwing my way. It should surprise no one that I'm a pretty uncoordinated lady who, admittedly, runs into stuff pretty often. On this trip, though, my injuries were so frequent as to be truly comical. I tripped over uneven spaces in the pavement and smashed my sandaled foot into solid concrete. I watched helplessly as my computer slid off my bed and landed, phone charger plug-in down, straight on the base of my toenail. I got blisters from new sandals that promised to give their wearers "the happiest feet on earth."

Then, on day 7 of the trip, came the mother of all tour injuries. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, trying to reach over behind me to pick up my shoes from the space they occupied on the short stretch of carpet between the bed and the glass door to our balcony, when I felt myself starting to lose my balance. With nothing to grab on to in front of me, I knew that I was going to have to let myself fall off the bed. This is not unusual. With the plate glass door stationed two feet or so behind my head, though, I realized quickly that I would have to fall strategically. I determined that flipping over so my hands could hit the ground before my skull was probably a good plan. So, as the girls in my chaperone group watched, incredulous and aggressively unhelpful, and my sister, I later learned, nearly choked to death on her lemonade in her laughing at me, I lined up my hands with the ground just in time for the momentum to send me crashing over the edge of the bed.

My strategic falling had prevented any grave skull-to-window injury, and I was ready to write this off as a classically embarrassing but harmless story. Just as I decided I was fine, though, I stood up, shook myself off, and noticed that my leg was bleeding. That's right, people, I hurt myself falling off my bed. As my legs had followed my upper half in its progression to the ground, my left shin had come into pretty serious contact with the hard plastic corner of my suitcase. The adrenaline of the fall kept me from registering the pain of this contact until I noticed it bleeding, but from that moment on, it followed me throughout the trip. I tossed a Band-Aid on the injury and sat back, watching it progress. It - no joke - made it painful to walk for the next couple of days, and the inevitable bruise hit all the color bases, from ruby red (which was particularly disconcerting) to purple to a normal shade of black and blue. With this injury, my hypothesis was finally proven that Hawaii most definitely hates me.

Still looking for proof? Listen to this one. I came home from this trip almost impossibly tan by non-Laura Cahalan family standards. I have never, in my life, been any color but snow white, beet red, or, during my brief severely-jaundiced-infant days, sickly yellow. And I came back from Hawaii with what can really must be called a tan. Sure, it still left me a solid 50 shades lighter than my sister, and sure, it basically just left my skin closer to "manila envelope" than "computer paper," but still - it was a definite tan. Ever since the bed incident, though, I had had a Band-Aid plastered across 3 inches of my left shin. Yesterday morning, I decided to peel the Band-Aid off.

White as the driven snow. I have a tan for the first time in my life, and it is ruined by a Band-Aid tan line.

Hawaii hates me. Let's go back.


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