My family has begun the one-week countdown for what is becoming an every-other-year trip to the Mainland.
Actually, that's not true. We began counting the days about five months ago. It's just that we've stepped up the e-mails about itineraries and the shopping talk has increased tenfold.
It started as a celebration of grandma's birthday two years ago, when we went to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. (She yelled at me the last time I printed her age, so I won't risk it again.)
We all decided we liked each other so much, we should do it again.
Happy family travel?
Call us crazy — we go against the prevailing dysfunctional grain.
(But just in case, we let two years go by.)
By this time next week I should be on an airplane squished between (hopefully) a window seat and my grandma, who usually lets me sleep with my head on her shoulder.
Grams is also going to be my vacation roommate, which I guess is another term for chaperone. At least she doesn't snore.
Aside from a few changes — Aunty June isn't coming and my sister Maile's boyfriend is, passing up Los Angeles and Disneyland (boo!) for Arizona and the Grand Canyon — it should be the same fun and merriment.
And with Maile's boyfriend, Joe, coming along, the ratio of men to women will be a little more fair. Not by much, with eight women and three men, but when it was nine and two, poor Uncles Mike and Cully had a lot to deal with.
They endured endless teasing about getting lost in a Vegas construction zone, and driving on the shoulder of the freeway, leading a train of cars behind us.
The men also did all the driving, so when we (the women) wanted to shop, they had to come along. Even after hours and hours of mall patrol, they had nary a complaint. Talk about real men.
For a year my mom has been slaving away as the family's travel angel. Cousin Whitney has printed out information on every store of every mall we plan to hit. It's a pretty thick stack of paper. I plan to go with one bag, and return with two.
My favorite pre-trip ritual is packing. I've already mentally finished my suitcase. Won't need a lot of jackets, because it's going to be hot. And I'm bringing shoes this time, because I don't want to wind up with an aching back again. (Last time I took only slippers.) Every piece of clothing, make-up, toiletries, all accounted for.
But the best thing I'm bringing with me, without a doubt, is my family.
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com.