I arrived in Honolulu on January 26, 2008, at 9:13pm.
I had a terrible flu. It had crept up on me the night before my flight, striking me with sudden chills that kept me from getting more than a few hours’ sleep. I was nearly dead as I boarded the airplane, but lucked out in that my entire row was empty except for me, so that I was able to stretch out on all three seats to sleep, fitfully, the entire flight.
My cousin was waiting for me at the airport to take me back to my Aunt’s house. Auntie T and Uncle were away on Kauai for the weekend, so I had the entire place to myself. I crawled into bed and slept, shivering the entire time and wishing I’d thought to bring a sweater or some long pajamas.
I was slightly more coherent by the time my family returned the next night. Coherent enough to greet my Aunt Susy with some apprehension, as I remembered quite clearly all the stories I’d heard of her. She’d gone with Auntie and Uncle to Kauai, which was nice of them. It was obvious how pleased Auntie was to have her sister in town as well as her niece. She’d spent half her life on a secluded island four thousand miles from most of her family, missing out on all the Thanksgivings, the Christmases, the birthdays, never getting to play hostess. Finally she was getting a chance to be involved in other peoples’ lives.
I hadn’t realized the extent she had gone to be involved. I hadn’t realized that Suzy was going to be living with us. I hadn’t realized that I was going to be sharing a room. I hadn’t realized that I was going to be sharing a bed.
I’m a very private person. Growing up, I would always close and lock my bedroom door whenever I was in there, which was frequently. For a year in high school I took part in an online home schooling program, and I took to leaving my bedroom only for meals and to use the bathroom. Going away to college, I had to leave the house once again, but when I was home, I was home alone. I had my own place and I was quite content with it.
I was not okay with sharing a bed. I was not okay with the fact that nobody had mentioned that I would be sharing a bed.
Since I was sick, Suzy slept on the couch that night.
My third day in Hawaii, I sneaked out of the house, called my mother, and sobbed that I wanted to come home.
I try to tell myself, now, that it was a combination of everything — of moving so far, of being sick, of having to share a bed with someone I’d been warned about all my life — that caused me to break down like that, although sometimes, even after everything that has happened here, I have to think it was stupid of me to run the way I did. No, really, I know it was stupid. I wasn’t moving for a good reason. I wasn’t moving to Hawaii because I wanted to move to Hawaii. I was moving to Hawaii to get away from Ohio, I was moving to show my family that I could follow through. I have no regrets, but I’m not going to pretend that it was smart, what I did. I’m not going to pretend I did it the “right way”. I’m not holding myself up as an example of how to do things.
The next night, Suzy slept on the floor of the bedroom. Eventually she bought a futon. I never did have to share the bed.