"“It’s so much worse than anyone knows.” A hospital-worker called to tell me.
That morning I woke up to the news that Maui was on fire, Lahaina was GONE(!?),
and they were evacuating North Kihei — where all my cousins and nieces and
nephews live. My parents have a house in South Kihei and they were off-island,
so my cousins took refuge at their house until the Kihei fire was contained. I
started breathing several sighs of relief once all my ohana and their homes
were accounted for, when she continued…
“There are still bodies in the ocean right now.” At this point the death toll
from the Maui wildfires was being reported as just six.
I’d never heard my cousin sound like this. I could hear the trauma of what
she’d seen in her voice.
We hung up and I felt and still feel so far away from Maui. Half an ocean away,
to be exact, in Los Angeles. Although I’ve grown up and have lived my whole
life in LA, my village is actually in Maui.
Yup, I’m one of those haoles (Hawaiian for foreigner, generally a white person
— it’s honestly not a slur unless you’re THAT kind of haole) who claims Hawaii
is their “second home.”
I spend almost all of my kid’s school vacation time there — visiting the
grandparents, swimming with the cousins, supporting my nephew’s soccer team,
doing yoga at my local studio, finally getting time to re-color my hair because
it’s the only
place where my kid can just run over to the neighbors house to
play for a few hours, knowing she’ll be safe.
Once the shock of the news wore off, I realized that this was one of the few
times in my life that I could actually give back
to the island that has given
so much to me in a really big way. While my village over there was suffering, I
am sitting here surrounded by resources. And so are my fellow haoles.
ever taken a trip to Hawaii, taken a sip of a Mai tai at the beach,
taken in an unbelievable sunset from your lanai, taken a photo for social
media, taken a snorkel trip to Molokini, or taken something from the island
home with you… you need to give back."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics