The main focus and reason for our trip to Hawaii was so Dagny could attend the Ka 'Aha Hula 'O Haluaola Hula Conference. Being as she is only 14, I went along for the ride. Sometimes being a mom has its perks. We stayed in a house with several other members of the Halau in the ritziest part of Honolulu. The houses there all have access to private beaches, which I took full advantage of. That’s where I learned the true meaning of paradise. Every morning after Dagny left for the conference I would head down to the beach. I was there for hours every day and never saw another living soul. It was heavenly. I was on my own all day while Dagny was in classes; I spent my time at the beach, shopped a little, explored the island,(so thankful for the GPS on my iPhone, I felt like I could get anywhere) ate fabulous food and just relaxed. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to me, but by about day 3 I was getting pretty good at it. When Dagny got home in the evening we would go out to dinner with Kumu and the rest of the ladies and then hang out and stay up way too late talking and laughing.
We arrived in Honolulu after what can only be described as a travel nightmare; delayed flight, then sitting in the plane for 2+ hours before take off because of some type of computer malfunction…it was not fun. Fortunately that was the worst thing that happened to us all week, after that it was all good. Knowing that once the conference got started Dagny wouldn’t have a lot of time for vacation-type activities, the next morning we woke up early and went out and got breakfast and ate at the beach and went swimming. It was the perfect way to start the week. After that it was all about rehearsals and getting ready to perform. That night they practiced at Kapi’olani Park, which is right at the base of Diamond Head. There are images from this trip that I will never forget, and watching the sun set behind Diamond Head as they danced is one of them. It was truly breathtaking.
That night we started making their kup’ee (adornment made out of ti leaves) and stayed up late laughing and working. The next day was the opening ceremony, and while everyone was there I put together lunch so everyone could eat together when they got back. (the irony, I spent more time in the kitchen on my vacation than I do at home) That night was another rehearsal, and then classes started the next morning. The conference consisted of an opening ceremony, classes, excursions, performance nights, and a closing ceremony. The highlight of the conference, and our entire trip, was Dagny getting to dance in Hawaii. It’s a privilege and an honor for a mainland Halau to perform there, and a dream come true for Dagny. Dagny has been dancing hula since she was 7 years old. If you know Dagny you know that she takes everything very seriously, so she’s been serious about hula for half of her life. All these years she’s talked about someday actually performing hula in Hawaii. I think the reality might have surpassed her dream. The performance couldn’t have gone any better, there was an energy and emotion in their dancing that was so powerful. The look on Dagny’s face when she came off stage is something I will remember for the rest of my life; it was the epitome of pure joy. Watching her dance that night is one of the highlights of being her mother, I’m so glad I was there to see it. I have always known that hula is more than dancing, but being in Hawaii connected me to it in a much deeper way. I got to attend the closing ceremony and I feel like between that, spending so much time with Kumu, and just being in Hawaii, I learned so many things. I will never look at hula the same way; it’s so much more now.
On our last day in Hawaii we went to Kailua and spent the morning on an absolutely beautiful beach. Despite Dagny getting stung by a jellyfish,(the lifeguard sprayed vinegar on her foot, she felt better in no time) it was a lovely way to wrap up our trip. After some macadamia nut pancakes(!) at our favorite breakfast place, (we always go here when we’re on Oahu) we spent the afternoon at the Bishop Museum, then watched the sun set at Ala Moana Beach before we went to the airport. There are a million more things that we saw and experienced, so many memories that we made. It was the trip of a lifetime. We could go back to Hawaii again and again and not experience it the way we did this time. I loved being in Hawaii, I loved being there with Dagny, and I had a pretty fabulous time when I was hanging out on my own. Now that I'm back in the real world I just have to figure out how to survive without my morning nap on the beach.