Big Island, Small Town

It’s been a while since my last post. But it’s summer now! Which means I’m home from school. There are so many things that I forget about Hawaii when I’m gone. For instance, how everyone knows everyone! It doesn’t matter where you go on the Island, you will usually see at least one person you know. I had a friend staying with me for a couple weeks and she told me. “Around the second day of being here I got used to the idea that every place we go I’ll be introduced to at least two people.” She was right. We went to the store and the check out girl went to high school with me. We got shave ice and there was a friend from another school. Went to a restaurant, the waitress was someone in my class. Local coffee shop, someone I went to church with. You get the point. The thing is, these weren’t all close to my house either. Some were at least an hour away. But almost everywhere you go there is going to be someone you know. It doesn’t have to be a close relationship. But guarantee that even if you don’t know someone else, there’s a good chance they know you.

This kind of goes along with the fact that so many people are related here. Often times they don’t know it either. For example, I knew a guy in high school who dated his cousin. It wasn’t on purpose of course, they didn’t know they were cousins until after they broke up! Good thing it wasn’t a very long relationship. I mean.. they were distant cousins, but still, cousins none the less. This doesn’t just make the dating pool smaller but it also means that you have to be extremely careful about who you talk about. You never know who could be listening. One minute you could be saying, “Did you hear what so-and-so did?” If you’re not careful the response could be, “Hey! Watch what you say. That’s my moms, aunties, cousins, husbands, son.” Or something along those lines. Sure, you might consider that a stretch. But believe me, even if it’s a cousin that’s five times removed. They’re still gonna stand up for them. Family is family no matter how they’re related. Sometimes they don’t even have to be related!

In Hawaii, not only are a lot of people related but there are also what we call Hanai siblings. Originally having a hanai child was like adopting. Families would take in a child, often another member of the family, and raise it. Now days many people use the term more loosely. It could very well be a best friend who is always at your house. I have a few myself. Having a hanai brother or sister means that they are considered a part of the family. When I was younger my dad would come home at the end of the day and yell into the house if anyone was home. The only person to respond was one of my sisters friends. After work she would come to our house, shower, get some food, and go on the computer. Nobody else was home, but none of us minded because she was a part of the family.

So while it might be called the Big Island, it comes with a small-town feel. Everyone knows everyone. You have to be prepared to get stuck talking story with someone at the store, while being careful not to say anything bad about people. News travels fast, and family sticks up for family no matter how distantly related.

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