I don’t know just exactly how one rewrites a place in their memory, carving out new neural pathways and feeling new feelings, but I do know that hot, fresh donuts help. I repeated this mantra to myself as we drove to the airport on Maui, stashing our luggage in Alana’s dad’s office and sauntering through the relaxed, open air terminals that make up Kahului International Airport. I repeated it to myself as I broke into the emergency stash of chocolate Stephanie had packed for us, and as Molly began daydreaming about all the SPAM musubi she was about to eat on Oahu. We were embarking on #SLAMsquad (Stephanie, Lily, Alana, and Molly) phase 2: Oahu. I should have been thrilled.
But here’s the thing. I haven’t been to Oahu in 9 years. Haven’t been since my mother was diagnosed with late-stage endometrial cancer, haven’t been since I sat in a cold, damp stairwell of the hospital with my hot pink Motorola RAZR 3 flip phone and called the boyfriend who’d broken up with me three days before to tell him that something else in my life had broken, too. I hadn’t been since my heart was shattered. Oahu, for me, had become one of Those Places That Hurt™. We all have them. But nine years later, I was determined to undo the trademark, to make Oahu new for me.