Story by Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
Pretty soon, maybe by da time you read dis, I going be on vacation, checkin’ out da fall colors on da Eas’ Coast. Dass somet’in’ I always wanted fo’ do, evah since small-kid time. Second-grade music class, we wen’ learn one song about autumn leaves . . . red an’ yellow an’ brown, see dem tum-bah-lin’ down. I t’ought da song was about crotons, like da kine we had in front our classrooms at Makawao School. Ev’ry mornin’ I would go look, but da croton leaves nevah did fall off da bushes. Den da teachah tol’ us dat da song was about trees on da mainland, where dey get real kine seasons. We wen’ make our own autumn leaves from construction pepa, an’ I tol’ myself, one a dese days, I goin’ see da real t’ing.
Dat summah, I went mainland fo’ da firs’ time, but was too early fo’ da leaves change color. Even so, dat was one awesome trip. My auntie an’ uncle wen’ take me Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Yosemite, and da place where you can go stand inside four states at da same time. We was s’pose to go see Sandy Koufax pitch at Dodgah Stadium, but my auntie was so homesick, we wen’ cut short our trip and come home aftah only one week. My uncle was kinda upset, but Auntie was even mo’ tita dan me, so when she said we gotta go, we wen’ go.
Twenny-five years laydah, dat same auntie an’ me, we went back Disneyland. Only dis time, we wen’ leave Uncle home, an’ we wen’ take my maddah an’ my son instead. Da four of us was in line fo’ ovah half an hour fo’ da Skyway ride, da one wit’ da open-air cabins, like one fam’ly-size ski lift. When was finally our turn, dis wahine we nevah seen befo’, she jus’ push her way in wit’ us, no even ask if we mind. She plop herself down next to Auntie, so my maddah an’ my son an’ me had to squeeze togedda in da seat across from dem. When da gondola wen’ start fo’ move, Auntie wen’ panic. See, da wahinenevah give us chance fo’ explain dat Auntie was one scaredy-cat when come to heights. Auntie wen’ grab da wahine’s arm wit’ her two hands, and she scream, “No move! No rock da boat! Aaaaaaaa! We going die!!”
I donno who was mo’ scared, Auntie or da wahine. Soon as we reach Tomorrowland, both a dem wen’ scramboh fo’ da ground. Da wahine nevah did say one word to us.
My maddah da exack opposite. She no mind heights, ‘speshly when she stay on one rollah coastah. She wen’ do all da big ones—da Coney Island Cyclone, da Stratosphere in Vegas, all aftah she wen’ turn sixty. In fack, whenevah she go someplace new, da firs’ t’ing she do is look fo’ one rollah coastah.
I hear Connecticut get couple classic rollah coastahs. But since my maddah not going wit’ me, I not goin’ look for ‘em on dis trip. Aftah almos’ fifty years of waitin’, I t’ink da firs’ sight of real autumn leaves goin’ be t’rills enough fo’ me.
Kathy Collins (a.k.a. Tita) is an actress, storyteller and radio personality. Like Tita, Ms. Collins grew up on Maui.