Sparked by Words

A Writer’s Currency


Sixth grade. One (first) plane trip, two states, three schools, four languages if you count Pidgin English. (Also Yiddish and French class.) One border of the country to the other, from the American edge of the Atlantic to the middle of the Pacific, and a cultural shift of unfathomable dimension.

Saddle shoes to bare feet, blizzards to tropical breezes, bobby pins to leis, oak trees to plumeria, chicken stew to saimin soup, social inclusion to misfit. The threat of hurricanes, the threat of tsunamis, the crash of waves in Atlantic City, the gentle surf of Honolulu.

Tears, joy, loss, promises, farewell, aloha. All in a day, all in a very long day and into the dark and fragrant night.

That ought to make you unsteady on your feet. It sure as hell did me.

No paradise for me but currency for a writer.

Remembered about the years 1959 – 1960 of moving from New Jersey to Hawaii.



Just a Thought 15


Painting: Tiger in a Tropical Storm, Henri Rousseau, 1891, courtesy



Comments on: "A Writer’s Currency" (28)

  1. People always say kids are resilient. Yet trauma is carried, if only hidden in the depths of mind and heart most of the time. But like you hint at, it colors who you are forever. Love these short posts. So much to think about.


  2. Wow, that’s a big change, especially for a child. No wonder it’s still so fresh in your mind!


  3. We do write what we know, don’t we?


  4. That would most definitely be a culture shock!


    • It really was, Betty. I spoke with a thick New Jersey accent (New Joisey) and my Chinese teacher in Hawaii, as well as all the other kids, spoke Pidgin English. We could not understand each other. And I was terrified of the cockroaches, bigger than golf balls. I was every stereotype of odd duck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sixth grade is hard enough (that tender age) without such a big change. Hope it got easier by the time you were in highschool.


      • Wish I could say that it did, Betty, but I remained an odd duck. At least we moved back to the mainland at the beginning of my eighth grade year, and that was helpful but not a full panacea. Took me getting to college before I finally found my way and became comfortable in my skin. Actually, took me getting out of my parents’ home.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can empathize. Those school years are difficult for most of us, especially when there’s something that sets us apart. Getting away to college was the best thing for me too.


      • There’s a reason for going away to college – most of us need that break from childhood and the time to figure out who we are and what we want to do with our adult lives. I’m grateful for those years of separation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me too, Sharon. I just wish I hadn’t dropped out after two years and jumped right into a marriage. Like you said, we thought we knew everything!


  5. It’s not “just a thought” it’s a poem


    • Thank you, Judy. I take them from a folder in my journal that I call “Snippets.” I’ve been writing them since about 2005 -6, and dating them since about 2012. Not all of them are suitable for the blog and some are very private, but I realized some would make good short posts. So I started to call them “Just a Thought.” I’m glad you like them.


  6. No journey is the same and I must say your writing is as good as it is for the lessons you’ve learned. I read of you and your path, and feel like I’ve never left my curb. I envy your life experience and where it has brought you, because you are a gift. I learn from you.


    • Thank you, Audrey, but your admiration is more than I deserve. I’ve made so many mistakes and if I’d learned anything worth sharing, it’s small compared to the awful moments I’m ashamed for anyone to know about. But you are always so kind, and that’s a great gift.


  7. Saddle shoes on bare feet? Wasn’t that uncomfortable?

    For some reason, I have never had the desire to go to Hawaii. I love the Pacific but, so how, Hawaii just isn’t appealing to me. I’m sure it was a culture shock for you.


    • I was trying to identify the differences between the cultures. In New Jersey, I wore thick bobby socks with my saddle shoes, which no one wore in Hawaii. They went barefoot even to school, though I wore sandals.
      There’s a huge difference between being a tourist and being an islander, decades ago and today. Most tourist designations want you to enjoy the visit. When you live there, it’s a whole other story. It is a beautiful place, though, especially on islands other than Oahu. The natural wonder of the islands is real and splendid.


  8. Amazing how our life experiences create that currency. Beautiful and interesting memories!


  9. Wow! That’s a lot for a young child to absorb…a culture shock to say the least! Was all this with a sense of excitement or fear? You give a wonderful sense of the dislocation and change in a few words…not easy. Well done and most interesting post. Yes, all fantastic experiences to draw on as a writer. 😀❤️


    • The move to Hawaii when I was 11 was the second time we’d lived there. Just out of medical school, my dad interned in the Army in Hawaii when I was 4. That was only for one year, and as a very young child that first time, I loved living in Hawaii. So when my parents announced we were moving to Hawaii “for one year,” I believed them. I was very excited for this one-year adventure. It turned out to be a horrendous two years after which we moved back to the mainland but to California on my thirteenth birthday. The culture shock was far greater than anyone can imagine as Hawaii had a reputation at the time as being a melting pot of cultural acceptance. It turned out not to be true, and I caught every nuance of prejudice directed toward me and toward others. I’ve never returned to Hawaii and never lived again in New Jersey. I’m still playing with the idea of relating some of the Hawaii stories in a book.

      Liked by 1 person

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