Rock Fever


Tim Hayakawa

It’s an ailment that targets transplanted Mainlanders who feel stifled by Hawaii’s size and isolation, restless souls who crave endless miles of roadway there for the taking any time they choose.

Hawaii is beautiful, and each island has its unique charms — people, beaches, valleys, mountain ridges, and historical and cultural offerings — but after a while, because it is so tiny, it can get rather familiar, if not tiresome, as the novelty wears off and the same gorgeous settings fade into an unnoticed background.

I never caught rock fever, except once while in college at UH, spurring me to flee Hawaii to pursue an M.B.A. in Seattle, then stay and work there at an accounting firm for two years. The first year away from home was exhilarating, the next was good, the next was okay, the last was blah. I could see the downward trend and started to miss home, so I moved back to Honolulu.

Twenty-five unbroken years living on this island without having missed the wide open spaces and unlimited adventures the Mainland has to offer has been a long run, even for a local like me. Recently, it’s been creeping in on me: symptoms of rock fever.

Our family had averaged one “big trip” away from the Islands every four years or so. However, with the recent exorbitant airfares, it’d been pushed back to six years and counting, which may partly explain my susceptibility.

So with the recent dip in airfares, I jumped at the opportunity to spend part of this holiday season on the Mainland with my friend Norm, whose parents recently died a few years apart and who is still struggling following his recent divorce. I hope we’ll add joy to his season and not be too big a burden.

While there, we’ll try to play in the snow, see some houseboats, and watch Norm, recently promoted to black belt, teach some kids karate — all things we can’t do in Hawaii.

Part of the incentive, to be transparent, is to get away from my family during the holidays, as we’ve all been getting into a sort of obligatory rut. My sister, for the first time, complained last year about the stress of hosting, and with some recent divorces and deaths, Christmas cheer has felt a bit more forced than in years past.

Not that I’m complaining; we all love each other and enjoy each other’s company. It’s just that more and more, our extended family’s capacity for one-big-happy-family cheer has diminished, and my aging parents and brother-in-law’s father can accommodate only so much family togetherness (especially with the kids around).

By spending part of our holidays away, then, I hope that our times together will be that much more precious and appreciated by all. Besides, if we ever move away to the East Coast after I retire (which I’ve been dreaming of lately), this will give us all a tiny feel of what that might be like during the holidays.

Tim Hayakawa is an accountant who blogs at

“A SHARED SPACE” is an ongoing reader-submitted column. To share your story, email