“Sometimes, this little island sure does feel big,” mused me n’ Scrappers, during yet another late night spent making newspapers and commiseration. It’s a funny thing to feel when you live on the proverbial small island (and call it twisted hometown pride, but I think our isle’s worthy of emphasizing the definite article). And lately, this little/big mire’s got me thinking…
Maui’s a small, 727 square-mile island where the town you work in oft dictates the town you live in (and vice versa)–or at least, the car you drive and the coastal commutes you make. So big ups, Upcountry. High five, Hana Highway haulers; Kihei crusaders. And whew, Westsiders–you guys get ’em da worst, as The Pali might as well be the OGG.
But this little/big thing’s more than just the lay of the land.
Maui’s a small, spastic island where you avoid Walmart rush hour (i.e. always)–and not because of any high maka maka principle, but because you simply no mo’ ‘nough time fo’ talk story with (inevitably) five long-time-no-sees, four classmates, three exes, two eh brahs, and your auntie’s friend’s first cousin. And then again it’s a small island that has rush hours and things called Walmart.
But this little/big thing’s more than just when-you-when-grad (i.e. high school) and from-where; more than six degrees of separation on steroids.
Maui’s a small, cosmopolitan island where nobody bats an eye whether you’re a stumbling bum or Hollywood elite–and so much so that, latter and former alike call it home. Ho hum, there’s Alice Cooper/Mick Fleetwood/Woody Harrelson/James Hetfield/Helen Hunt/Willie Nelson/Oprah/Owen Wilson/whoever. No big deal. (OK, in truth, we all know we play nonchalant ’cause it’s the cool thing to do.) And anyway, it takes panache to survive on an island like this; so who on Maui isn’t a local celebrity in their own right?
But this little/big thing’s more than whether you’re a tourist/transient/transplant or poi dog native; more than whether you’re famous, infamous or invisible.
Maui’s a small island where what would elsewhere be quaint is qualitative. A small island where a penchant for our potpourri traditions also allows for nepotism, be it for better or worse. A small island where the now-grown-up kids of couples who met at Casanova’s Ladies’ Night now go to Casanova’s Ladies’ Night themselves. A small island where you need to individuate either father or daughter when speaking of Mayor Tavares. A small island where most of your childhood friends move away to college and never come back; and where most of the friends you make thereafter hail from somewhere else and therefore liable to leave, too.
But this little/big thing’s more than that stuff. And all that stuff’s just modern triviality (never mind without mention of every inextricable ecological woe) written just for laughs (well, kind of).
Because really, when this little island feels big it’s because it has big issues. Issues burgeoning for centuries on the broken back of a convolutedly tragic history. The indigenous overthrown; nonpareil endemism, annihilated; cultural homogen/Hollywoodization; World War; whatever else.
Man, it’s hard to get a handle on our back story long enough to try to tell our current story.
I guess I’m leading up to this: I should be writing a column following up on last week’s cover story, “This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land. The condemnation of Happy Valley’s shanty town; and how in it you’ll find Hawai’i.”
“Dude, I don’t wanna… I just wanna write something lighthearted,” I told Scrappers. You know, something about how the landing craft that’s run aground on Sugar Beach out to be turned into a party boat. Or about how (OMG!) this SOPA thing is, like, totally pointing out my Wiki crutch. Or anything.
“Is it because you don’t want to, or because you’re tired?”
Scrappers got me. Again. And always when I need it most.
“Yeah, man. I am tired.” Four solid, stinking days (and then some) holed up in the office has a way of sucking the life out of you, heartbreaking story or no.
And of course I want to write more about it (and will, as the story develops); and here in this column ache to tell you all the ways I fucked up, of all the things that hit the cutting room floor that shouldn’t, of all the notes that never made it to the page in the first place. It wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t right either. I could have told a better story. A clearer, more concise story. Because in all the overwhelming confusion, it was only after a good night’s sleep that the big ideas began to coalesce. Still, I’m having a hard time getting a handle on it, though I’m trying to.
But it’s hard when everything feels big and I feel so little.
 As irony would have it, “high maka maka” is likely the Hawaiian Pidginization of “high muckety-muck,” which itself is an American bastardization of the Amerind Chinook words “hiu muckamuck” (which according to Websters actually meant something more like “provisions”).
 And for whatever it’s worth, while MauiTime as an organization endorsed now-and-again Mayor Alan Arakawa–and caught both hell and hurrah for illustrating then-Mayor Charmaine Tavares as a zombie on our 2010 Halloween cover–I myself still voted for Tavares.
 Just when I start to feel far too self piteously dramatic, all y’all’s uplifting feedback (see page 3) pours in. Truly, friends, it’s been my lifeline these last few days. Thank you.