“We live on welfare. How do you even think of a place called Hawaii?” That was my Mom’s reply when I shared that one day I’d love to live in Hawaii. I was in Grade 3. That’s when the dream began.
Canada turned 100 years old in 1967. I turned 9. I clearly had no idea of the road ahead, but a part of me fantasied about living in Hawaii.
I remember imagining all the trappings of Christmas without the snow. To an elementary school boy, growing up in freezing cold Calgary, it just didn’t seem to compute. But it didn’t stop the fantasy.
December was the start of repeatedly having to listen to my Father sing ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album. It might have been my siblings’ hell, but I loved it.
Yesterday, August 30th, 2016 marked my one year anniversary of living in Honolulu, Hawaii. The entire day was filled with gratitude, mostly to my husband, for the profound love and support of allowing me to be with him.
I spent much of the day remembering the innocence of the dream I held and what it must have taken for me to never let it go.
On many occasions and mostly from my family I heard this comment, “Who do you think you are dreaming of living in Hawaii?” It was a rhetorical question to which I always had an answer, but one that I’d never share.
As much as the fabric of dysfunction was woven into my early childhood experiences, specifically the impact of alcoholism, sexual abuse, violence, poverty and devastating secret keeping. A part of me would not let Hawaii go. I think it was my safe haven.
The dream wasn’t rooted in an intellectual or even a curiosity focused understanding of Hawaii, where it was, who were its people. No one encouraged me to explore it. If anything, many scoffed at me for having it at all and blatantly invited me to discard it.
Mom used to call her family her ‘tribe’. It was a description that never sat well with me.
Every Dolan had a well-defined function and position within the tribe and there was no straying from what you were supposed to do and who you were supposed to be.
Dolan’s don’t dream. If I dared to dream my story was that I would be kicked out of the tribe.
The Hawaiian Islands have gifted me with so much in my lifetime. The greatest of these gifts was the introduction of who I know today as my husband. We met on Maui seven years ago with a mere twenty minute conversation to bind us.
While on Maui a few years ago I turned to Adam and shared, “Of all the schemes I could conceive or dream of to get me to these islands, I never thought it would be love that would allow me to live here.”
As I basked in a playful, one year celebration of living here yesterday, which included a yummy veggie burger and an awesome chocolate shake, a few revelations touched my heart.
My family needed me to be the dreamer. They needed me to be the one to break the chain of life without dreams. They couldn’t themselves, therefore they could not be my cheerleaders. It was I who needed to be my own cheerleader.
1967 was the beginning of my dream towards Hawaii, yet more profoundly it was my journey towards knowing that regardless of the question, love is always the answer.