To be fair, I do recall being thrilled with those tall, adult-looking drinks and the shops filled with batik-print tops and colorful swimsuits. I remember many other things, too. The rainy day (always the rain, it seems) that we went to the farmers' market and high-stepped through the mud to the stand with the lady with ribbon-entwined braids who gave us samples of breadfruit. The fish taco truck near the river bank, and the endless spotted green of the taro fields in the Hanalei valley. I remember being shocked when my mom picked up a hitchhiker on the side of the island's main road (a harmless-looking hippie college girl from Santa Cruz, but a stranger with her thumb out nonetheless), and the hundreds of miniature shells you could find among the grains of sand if you just looked hard enough and trained your eyes to see the right shapes.
I don't remember that we'd vacationed here three times previously, not two. I don't remember quite as many chickens (they are everywhere, and lay the most delightful pale blue and reddish-beige eggs), or that there was ever a threat of flash floods as a result of so. much. torrential. rain. I don't remember there being so many sophisticated restaurants, or such an emphasis on local, sustainably grown food. Then again, my eyes were focused on different things back in 1997, I suppose, and nobody's memory is infallible.
What began as a tradition of mother-daughter vacations has now evolved into mother-daughter-Rico. Plus a husband or plus a son-in-law, depending on whose perspective. We were all in need of a vacation, some of us more desperately than others, but all definitely due for some time away from the weight of our obligations and routines.
This morning, our first full day on Kaua'i, we all went for a run towards Tunnels Beach. It was early, enough so that the sun was just beginning to scorch and mothers were still waiting with their children by the roadside for the school bus to pass. My mom, Rico and I ran in a line, our heavy breath and pounding footsteps broken only by the occasional rooster's cackling or the friendly aloha-good-morning of a fellow jogger. It felt communal, cleansing, satisfying. The perfect start to a holiday.