I’m sitting in LAX airport waiting for flight to Rarotonga. I’m surrounded by New Zealand accents and chatter. It sounds foreign yet distantly familiar. As I sit here I can feel the tide of memories flooding back filling me with excitement and curiosity. Will I fit back into my birth heritage or am I too far removed no longer a die hard Kiwi but a soul of the world with no spiritual fixed abode. This trip is going to be very interesting… at least to me it will…LOL.
Moist warm air embraced me as I stepped from the plane. Walking down the embarkation steps to the tarmac I caught the sweet scent of Tipani to set my mind and senses that I was now in the lush tropics of the south pacific. It was the strong smell of jet fuel shortly thereafter that accompanied the rest of my descent to terra firma however.
The anticipation of meeting up with my family after such a long time was now welling up within me and that all my years of being an emotional tough guy was about to abruptly end. Stepping onto the customs and immigration area we were all met by the dulcet tones of Jake Numanga singing Polynesian tunes while strumming his guitar. I along with many of my fellow travelers loved this personal touch and showed our appreciation with a little sway of our heads and the tapping of our feet along with applauses at the end of each song. Jake had set rhythm and lyrics for all of us landing on the island… It was up to us now if we were to continue to hum along and enjoy the sweet melody of our individual journeys.
Once through customs I picked up my bags and headed for the exit where an immigration official, a lady in this case was stopping people and asking the nature of their visit and where they would be staying, then directing them on through the exit. I tell her while pointing at the door, “I’m coming to see my family”. She looks at my eyes that are about to explode with moisture and she quickly waves me on saying, “you better get out there then, eh”! A couple of heart beats and a deep breath later I’m through the exit and there before me is a bloody big sign saying, “Kia Orana Sunshine Boy”. The rough translation of which can be two as follows. First translation “Welcome, mums favorite”, the second being and more commonly used, “Welcome, to the one who when he bends over brings forth the light!” There are of course many variations on the second translation depending on the situation at hand.
Yes, Sunshine Boy had arrived and while the next part remains a blur, I do remember heading for the one embrace I sort for so long, Bubs (Jayne) my little sister, the matriarch of the family in the absences of my mother’s physical presence. Bubs’ the tower of strength, wit and wisdom, but, most of all Bubs represented the coming together in paradise of our tribe after so many years apart, we were all here, the brothers, sister, father and the spirit of mum. I won’t bore you with the rest of the meeting but suffice to say I was no tough guy when it came to tears… but I wasn’t alone either on that score!