The Goddess Speaks
Getting there is never half the fun
For those of us with family on the East Coast, the escalating cost of airfares is an issue, and every time the cost of oil rises, my heart sinks. I suppose eventually all of us here in the middle of nowhere will have to think long and hard about making as many trips as we do.
For me the magic number is $1,000 for a plane ticket. Anything less than that somehow seems affordable -- not much more than a couple of fancy dinners out at, say, La Mer or somewhere like it (not that dinner for two at $400 with wine and one dessert could be called remotely "affordable"). Still, the amount seems doable for a family visit, but once those numbers creep higher, well, then you gotta think about it.
So, I'm thinking. What cost do we put on spending time with family? Is it worth delaying a new car purchase? Obviously, unless the car is like my son's terminally geriatric Chevy, delaying a car for a year or two seems a decent trade-off for family time. Dinners out? No sweat, beach hot dogs and cold beer are fine, too. New wardrobe? There's always the flea market and the big-box stores.
What else might one eliminate? I don't really need a new stove, and the genteel layer of red dirt on the walls is just par for living here. So perhaps the fares will have to climb just a little more before I stop pushing the "Purchase Fare" button on orbitz.com.
On the other hand, it seems crazy to offer up thousands of dollars for a week away when the travel there and back constitutes a misery beyond description. Squashed into minuscule seats like sardines on a processing line, travelers used to a stellar life of open-air living and beautiful beaches experience 16-hour commutes in tin cans that are the antithesis of the user-friendly environment of the islands.
Staggering into baggage claim, hoping against hope that my stuff arrived at the same place at the same time, I realize how ludicrous it is to pay the equivalent of 200 flea-market T-shirts to be abused, starved, compressed and stressed.
Maybe the solution is to stitch those shirts together, make a giant hot air balloon and sail above it all, sipping a mai tai and nibbling on macadamias, arriving in Virginia a little later but a lot more relaxed.
OK, I'm kidding about the balloon, but with every trip the degree of insult to my bank account gets worse. On the other hand, do I begrudge the cost when I see those little arms stretched out and a high-pitched voice shrieking, "Grandma! Grandma! Over HERE!"? Not on your life. Just let me at the computer so I can punch in the dates.
Cris Rathyen teaches English at Moanalua High School.
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