By AMANDA BEAM
— Ahh, the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Can’t you just feel the soft, warm blow of the trade winds as they rustle through the palm leaves? Imagine those serene beaches next to crystal clear lagoons. Don’t forget the weather. Although they forecast clouds overhead, weather watchers predict a perfect 74 degree high for this Monday on Oahu.
Paradise is a hard thing to leave, or so you would think. Especially when our current spring break in Kentuckiana could be used as a perfect ad as to why Florida is a wonderful vacation destination. I could take the flesh-eating dope addicts that state produces just for a bit of warm sun on my own vampire-white skin.
As I lay piled under my fluffy covers and sulk about the failure of the much-touted Snowmageddon to come into fruition, I wonder why the heck my family ever left our blissful, relaxed lives in Hawaii six years ago.
Yes, it’s a little-known fact that the Beam kids are Hawaiian. Any questions about the legitimacy of their future presidential runs may be sent to my email.
Of course, their hula dancing looks more like they’ve been assaulted with a Taser and their Hawaiian ancestry is about as existent at Manti Teo’s online girlfriend. But every last one of my brood was born in the Aloha state.
My husband’s job took us over to the island of Oahu for almost six years. Beautiful place, Hawaii. And the people welcomed us with more than just a flowery lei. We became ohana, their name for family. Our next-door neighbors, the Traders, invited us to every holiday. Their grandkids called us the traditional island terms of auntie and uncle. The keiki always celebrated Christmas outside under the golden Hawaiian sun.
And the culture! Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese and people of every other ethnicity lived side-by-side without hate or conflict. My children grew up as a minority in this community, a positive experience I know will shape their values and views for their entire lives. As his classmates wince in disgust, my 10-year-old can still down more sushi than a killer whale.
So why exactly did we leave this island paradise?
No place in the world can compare to Indiana.
Sometimes it takes going away on an extended journey to really appreciate the beauty of your hometown. Our area remarkably fuses Midwestern sensibilities with Southern hospitality. Drive along a rural road in Clark or Floyd counties and you’ll see this in action.
Part-time farmers tending their fields will wave at passing cars, even the ones with Kentucky license plates. Families gather on front porches to celebrate births and graduations and the occasional state championship win. Anyone can stop on by for a tall glass of sweet tea and an even taller telling of some old-time stories.
With that smooth yet twangy drawl, speech is slower here, as is the pace of our cities and towns. Still the warmth of the people embraces you like granny’s old handmade quilt on a cold winter night.
Hoosier pride isn’t just some enigmatic saying. You can see it in the smiles of the local mail carriers and in the laughs of our retired men and women at the old coffee shops.
Of course, worldly problems still exist, a whole lot of them. Just because you’ve been born a Hoosier doesn’t mean you’ve died and gone to heaven, although it might be close. But this strong sense of community sure does make dealing with those issues a whole lot easier.
Maybe I’ve been taken over by this March hysteria and need to go away and recoup on the shores of New Jersey for a while. Brash accents and attitudes have a way of awakening one out of this Midwestern haze.
Even then, I doubt the melody that was sung in Indy right before Borden’s state championship win can ever be fully forgotten.
“Back home again in Indiana, and it seems that I can see the gleaming candle light still burning bright through the Sycamores for me.”
Much aloha, Indiana. Thanks for welcoming us home.
— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at hoosiermandyblog@gmail. com