Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankfulness: arrivals, departures

It's the day after the day after Thanksgiving here in Hawai'i.

This means the fridge is still full of leftovers (just because we didn't host Thanksgiving doesn't mean we don't have leftovers - people here are so generous that Vula and I were sent home literally with boxes of food), we've got a shopping bag at the end of the bed from a shopping trip yesterday on 'Black Friday' (the biggest shopping day of the year apparently), and I've got a giant pile of essays to grade because it's nearly the end of semester.

So much for starting to blog again! I posted twice earlier this month and then was distracted by life for a while. I keep going to things or thinking thoughts or hearing things and thinking 'I should blog about that!' but I haven't done - not yet. Yesterday Vula reminded me that I should start blogging again and so now, as people outside our window are making the first signs of waking up and Vula stretches out next to me, gently sleeping, I'm making good on that commitment.

Thanksgiving is such a tricky day, so deeply saturated in Americanness: excessive food, excessive travel, close family time, and an invented story of Indigenous hospitality which is not false in its claims about Indigenous gifting of food as much as in its implied extrapolation to a story about the gifting of a continent. Canadians have their early October Thanksgiving too,  called 'Canadian Thanksgiving' as is the way of countries which don't get to call theirs 'Thanksgiving' in an unmarked way... but (at least in its most explicit level, because surely empire is central to any story of natural resources in a settler colony) it's more about the harvest and less a story of white inheritance.

And yet, and even though many of my Indigenous mates on facebook over the past few days have asked about what it means for people to only practice thankfulness as an annual event rather than a daily practice, I find myself wanting to write about a few things for which I'm, well, thankful.

I'm thankful Vula is here.

I'm thankful for the launch of Once Were Pacific at Revolution Books two weeks ago. That one, given the focus of this blog, deserves a post (albeit belated) of its own, and it will get one.

I'm thankful for my students who keep me accountable: here in Hawai'i and at home in Aotearoa.

I'm thankful for good friends here in Hawai'i who have been, and will continue to become, family to Vula and me as we live here in this beautiful part of our ocean.

I'm thankful that we have tickets to fly home to Wellington in two Mondays (3 Dec) and am hopeful that Vula's visa will be processed by the NZ consulate in LA in time for us to travel together. I can't wait to see Matiu, Megan, Mum and Dad as well as everyone else. It's true that there's no place like home.

I'm thankful for the new babies in our families: Pania in Newcastle and Jemaima in Suva. Two new nieces for us to adore  :)

I'm thankful for health and whanau and food and more besides.

But today? Today we're taking Daren for breakfast. The charismatic, kind and energetic Daren, known by Vula as a boy he grew up with and known by me as a Pasifika poet and now known by both of us as the cupid who introduced us to each other, is flying home to his family in Aotearoa tonite. He has had a busy and engaging three months in Hawai'i as the Fulbright/Creative NZ Pasifika writer in residence, and is heading off with his own kete full but also having replenished the kete of several people here. This is A Good Outcome. Haere ra Daren - safe travel home to Grace, your boys, and Aotearoa.

I'm thankful for the ocean. While we think about arrivals and departures - standing on wharves to wave at passing ships - it keeps us connected: Aotearoa, Hawai'i, Fiji... and all the other many places in our vast, moody, navigable, immense blue home.

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