Naupaka Up Mauka

The Naupaka myth tells the tale of a Hawaiian princess who falls in love with a commoner, a fisherman named Kau’i. Walking together one day, the couple is separated by a lava flow. Naupaka takes a flower from her hair and tears it in two, throwing half to her lover. They flee in opposite directions—she to the mountains (mauka) and Kau’i to the beach (makai), forever separated. The myth explains why the distinctive white Naupaka flower, found along the shoreline and in the mountains, produces only half-flowers, crooked little arcs with downward petals.

Beach naupaka-Scaevola taccada

Dear Auntie,

We are writing about our daughter, Naupaka. We strongly disapprove of her boyfriend Kau’i. They’ve been going together for a while, and her mother and I fear the relationship is getting serious.

He seems nice enough but we know nothing of his family. We wonder what he does all day, hanging out at the beach—just a ramshackle bungalow to call home. Naupaka has been raised to enjoy nice things. Nothing has been denied her. We fear he is looking for a free meal ticket.

We want her to see the world—pursue her schooling. She resists. She says Kau’i makes her whole. That he completes her. Who in their right mind says something like this?

We fear that expressing our true opinions to her will only serve to drive them closer together—and that we will become the ‘bad guys’. How can we express our concerns about Kau’i without Naupaka getting defensive?

Please advise, Worried Parents

Dear Worried Parents,

Before you tell Naupaka how you feel about Kau’i, a more akamai approach would be to find out why she likes him so much in the first place. Sure, he’s laid back, island-style. You’re afraid she’s throwing away her future. Maybe, maybe not. But how does he treat Naupaka? Is he there when he says he’ll be or does he keep her waiting? Does he remember her birthday? Is he able to admire Naupaka for more than her beauty?

If you don’t know why she’s attracted to him, a good place to start is to ask her. Remember, you aren’t dating the guy—she is.

Dear Auntie,

I’m a nineteen-year-old wahine in love with Kau’i, a fantastic guy. There’s just one problem. We had a silly fight and now he’s not talking to me. Something has come between us, but I don’t know what. To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember what we fought about. I’d apologize but he’s ghosted me. Vanished into cyber space. He doesn’t text. He doesn’t call. He’s blocked me on Facebook and changed all his numbers. Now my parents keep telling me I told you so. I don’t know what’s happened to me; it’s like I’m only half there! Is there any hope to get back together with Kau’i?

Please respond as soon as you can, Naupaka Up Mauka

Dear Naupaka Up Mauka,

It saddens me to say I see little hope for you and Kau’i ever being reunited. For whatever reason, you two have become irreversibly separated. Maybe he didn’t feel he was good enough for you. Maybe he was in love, but not with you. How sad that your affection has been torn apart as easily as a flower, but you must try to remove yourself from this negative space. Love all you see, and don’t see, including yourself. As my dear tutu once told me when I was your age, and my young heart was broken in two—Sometimes the half is just as beautiful as the whole.

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