By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer
Since the moment I was born at the Kapiʻolani Medical Center, you could say that I was considered a local from that day on. I was given a Hawaiian middle name, Kameleonalani, grew up to dance hula for May Day in elementary school, and even learned to play the ʻukulele, and more. However, regardless of how much pidgin I continue to speak at home and how individuals may mistake me as Hawaiian for my middle name and long hair, there are several aspects of me that people, as well as I, have come to realize that makes me a not-so-local local.
Whether it’s having to identify scenic places on the island or ono places to eat at, most of the time I am unable to recognize some of these places that people talk about. I recall the days of when I was in elementary school and I was unaware of where Kaimukī was, yet my parents would drive me through it five days out of the week to take me to and from school. I fortunately learned about the area in which Kaimukī lies, however, there are more interesting and well-known places such as Tantalus and Lanikai Beach that I have yet to take a ride to to witness its natural beauty.
Knowing that I’ve lived on this island for 19 years, many would think that I’d be familiar with most of these places, or at least have been to most of these places. Unlike how most 19-year-olds grew up, I was raised a very sheltered child who had to look after her mother and sister while her father worked several shifts to pay bills. Due to these family obstacles, I didn’t get the chance to venture out of the house with friends to discover what Oʻahu had to offer until I began high school.
It wasn’t until my freshman year that I got to socialize with my friends outside of school, which also included the first time having to ride the city bus. At the time, I had never done so beforehand and had ridiculous questions running through my mind, from having to figure out how the dollar bill and quarter would be given and what the inside of the bus looked like. Of course, stepping onto that bus left my naive 14-year-old self most likely to portray the image of a lost Asian tourist, who had no idea of how to take the bus and where she would be going.
Fortunately, with the help of my friend who accompanied me during that traumatizing first bus trip, and who is my current boyfriend, I’ve been able to take the bus to several places that I had never been to before – however, this, unfortunately, does not include Tantalus. Besides the places that I was unaware of and have yet to see, there are other aspects of a Hawaiʻi local that still sets me at the bottom of the food chain; one of these being that I don’t know how to swim.
As many times as my family has taken me to Waikīkī Beach or to Waimea Bay Beach Park as a kid, from what I recall, I could never swim but instead would play around in the shallow end or bob around in the water if I felt daring. As I got older, I rarely went to the beach, (much less do I even go to the beach nowadays) but I’m glad to at least have gotten an alternative beach tan over the years so that I can blend in with the locals around me.
Picking ʻopihi with a butter knife off the rocks of Kawela Bay and eating them right then and there is something that I’ve come to do during a few winter breaks, but eating Hawaiian food at a lū‘au is probably the last thing that people would witness of me. It’s not that I have a disliking toward traditional Hawaiian meals, but I can never seem to handle the unique flavors that lau lau, poi, and lomi salmon can bring forth in my taste buds, including my stomach. At most, I’d probably only go for plain kālua pork, chicken long rice, and poke with rice. To much surprise, poke is something that I only discovered at 14 years old, and holds many flavors that keep me wanting more.
Ono Seafood, which basically holds the upgraded versions of Foodland’s poke bowls, is a popular eating place that I didn’t know about until my first year of college. Sadly, not too far from this place stands Rainbow Drive-In, which, even though my parents claim I ate at before when I was a child, is a place on my list that I still have yet to go to to dive into its cardboard box filled plate lunches of deliciousness that many people seem to rave about. As disappointing as this may sound, I can at least confirm that I’ve been to similar places such as L&L and Zippy’s.
If I had a physical list of all of the activities, places, and foods I have yet to experience on this island, it would probably roll down Wai‘alae Avenue for days. As un-local as I may be, I don’t let this hinder me, knowing that I still have many more years to come in which that time will allow me to slowly check off these categories on my list. Whether I dive into these places alone or with others by my side, at least I know that it’ll be a much more memorable experience instead of a faint memory from when I was a child.