Now that I'm back in the throes of monitoring school homework, packing lunch boxes and driving to and from numerous extracurricular activities, it's hard to believe that not six weeks ago I was sipping mai tais poolside on the beautiful island of Maui.
You know how folks develop that special place they go to unwind? Well, Hawaii is that place for me. The second the plane's wheels scrape rubber on the tarmac I feel transformed. I've come home. You see, I was born in Honolulu, just like Barack Obama and Bette Midler. (And like Barack Obama and Bette Midler, I too can show you a valid birth certificate.)
And even though I only lived there the first nine months of my life, the islands feel familiar. The fragrant Hawaiian breeze is mother's milk, the loamy earth and brilliant colors my pablum.
That doesn't mean our special getaway wasn't without incident. I somehow managed to get both sinus and ear infections, Maxie got a bladder infection, Sebastian, five stitches on his chin, and my husband...well...he took countless pictures of hot island boys with tribal tattoos. And still, a wonderful vacation was had by all.
The first thing I do, after arriving on the island, is buy a glass of cane juice with a squeeze of lime...the tropics in a sippy cup. Then, I buy Hawaiian fruit for our room. I love pineapples, papayas and apple bananas, but this year, I was cuckoo for passion fruit.
You know when you have one of those crystal clear revelations, like for dinner I'm going to make something with chicken thighs and green olives. You have no idea why chicken thighs and green olives came into your head, nor have you ever heard of that peculiar gastronomic coupling before. But you're confident it will be a dilly of a combo. And you're not at all surprised when you find many fabulous online recipes using chicken thighs and green olives. And voila, a new favorite dish.
Well, that's how it was with the passion fruit. I don't know why it was calling to me, but I knew, in the central most part of my being, that this vacation was all about passion fruit, or as the natives call it, lilikoi.
I was gaga for lilikoi gelato, lilikoi shaved ice, lilikoi soda, and fresh lilikoi right out of the rind. I wanted to climb to the top of Haleakala and shout at the top of my lungs, Me likee lilikoi!And I didn't care who knew it.
You might think my obsession with passion fruit unhealthy. You might think some sort of transference is going on. Perhaps the passion fruit was a psychological replacement for something missing in my life, maybe for passion itself.
Okay, you got me. I wouldn't say it's missing, but over the past few years, passion has, on occasion, gone on an unexpected, month-long voyage to Tahiti, without even bothering to send a postcard. It's just that home life has gotten much more complicated with children. They have specific needs and... No, I refuse to be one of those parents who make children the scapegoat for what's out of sync with their lives.
But things have changed. When Michael and I first started our relationship we promised that we'd always tell each other I love you before we went to sleep. That doesn't happen as much as it used to. More often than I care to admit, one of us falls asleep with the reading light on, reading glasses askew, script in hand.
We're just so frickin' tired all the time. Even in Maui, the Heavenly Bed felt so heavenly, the only activity we wanted to do in it was sink into its downy oblivion.
And our schedules are so completely out of whack. Michael, on average, gets home around midnight, and I, on average, get up at six. Gotta prepare breakfast, gotta drive those little fuckers to school... No, I will not blame them.
Also, occasions aren't occasions anymore. There are no flowers on opening night. No candy on Valentine's Day. On our birthdays, you're more likely to hear, "Don't worry about getting me a present."* And our anniversaries have become anemic: there's the one celebrating our legal wedding, the one celebrating our illegalwedding, the one celebrating the day we first met, which was October fourth, marking our thirteenth year. But never, in all that time, have we let an anniversary slip by without some form of acknowledgement, until last week! We both plumb forgot.
I was probably too busy, buying some meaningless gift from Toys R Us for the next kiddie birthday party, or packing snacks for the entire soccer team, or ohhing and ahhing at my daughter's assembly program where she played a singing butterfly. She was stuck upstage and you couldn't see her, because all the other butterflies covered her up, but I took time out of my day to support...once again,not the kids' fault.
Let me be clear, Michael and I still have sex. But in comparison to the beginning of our relationship when we slept naked and bumped like bunnies all night long, nowadays, it's more like, "Better put your pajamas on or you'll catch a chill."
How the fuck did this happen? We sound like one of those old couples, who sit across from each other at Denny's and never talk, except to say, "There's soup on your chin."
I tried to get Michael and the kids as excited about lilikoi as I was, but they weren't buying it. Perhaps it has to do with its appearance. It only tastes good if the rind is as bruised looking as Kim Basinger in pretty much any movie. And the insides aren't any more appetizing. As Maxie tells it, "They look like boogers with seeds." And on this, I'd have to concur. But the taste...delish.
Now, what to do about my passion dilemma. It's time to take it back. Little by little, I must empower myself to make changes. Starting now. And I need a slogan. Something like...
A little more passion, a little more lilikoi.
Yeah, that will work.
*Michael, tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm expecting a present!
My mother sent Michael a yodelling pickle. That's right, a yodelling pickle...
What is a yodelling pickle, you ask? Quite simply, a plastic pickle that stands on end, and when you push its button, it yodels. No cutesy cartoon face. No accompanying movement. Just a collection of high-pitched alpine trills from a stiff faux-vegetable. Yodel-Ay-Eee-Ooo.
And unlike the Santa who gyrates to Jingle Bell Rock, this mass-produced gewgaw is perfect for absolutely NO occasion.
What's peculiar, besides the gift itself, is the sender. My mother is not one for spontaneity, nor is she particularly fond of gag gifts. Sal is a logically-minded, no nonsense kinda gal, and a yodelling pickle would be the last thing I'd expect her to send my husband, via UPS. Especially when it's my birthday next week!! What's in store for me? A rapping kiwi?
The other, perhaps noticeably, odd thing...odd and uncomfortable...is that the damn thing looks like a green dildo. Now, I don't get into Michael's and my bedroom habits in this blog, but green, bumpy, yodelling (and somewhat petite) dildos are not our thing...especially when sent by MY MOTHER!
On a morning, when I washed out the roasting pan...again, put away the raspberry preserves...again, stripped away the pee pee sheets from the mattress...again, forgot the kids were out of toothpaste...again*, I must say, this novelty brought a little ray of sunshine into my otherwise monotonous mommy life.
It's just so damn curious. I prefer not to call my mother and ask for clarification. There's something delicious about its incongruity. Even the kids love playing with this kooky thing. (Although it's disturbing watching them fight over a phallus.)
I'd go on and on, but I have to drive Maxie to school.