I’m coming up on one year of living in Maryland, and that time has allowed me to think about the last three years I spent living in Hawaii.
When I first found out we were moving to Hawaii I was so excited and ready to head to paradise to soak up that surf and sun. I was quick to tell everyone – and not just because it’s polite to tell friends and family that you’re moving, but partly to brag.
I was glued to my plane window as we landed and oo’d and aw’d at all the flowers and trees and the blueness of the water, as is appropriate for landing in somewhere as idyllic as any of the Hawaiian islands (even built up Oahu).
But the luster wore off pretty quick. I had a toddler. I was pregnant. My husband worked all the time at all hours and was rarely available to me. No friends. No family. I had never lived so far from home, so while I could read all the lists in the world about how to adjust and fit in and make new friends – making it happen was a different story altogether.
I was lonely.
I couldn’t just hop in a car and visit someone familiar. There was ocean in every direction. I couldn’t easily afford plane tickets home for holiday trips, and my family couldn’t afford to visit me.
I got sick of the sun.
I got sick of the ocean.
I had a pretty bad case of home sickness topped off with a pretty whopping dose of island fever. I felt like I was drowning, and I wasn’t able to appreciate all of those picturesque views people pay thousands to get to.
After two years, I ran away, back to the east coast, leaving my husband behind. His tour would be done in a year, I figured. He could come to me. Believe it or not, I’m not the only spouse to feel like that or the only spouse to leave because of it. At least a few other spouses that I know of returned to the mainland to live with family while their partners finished up their Hawaii tours because they couldn’t adjust or because their spouse was so unavailable due to the schedule. I think that’s what made it seem okay to me.
But after a month I missed him. And felt selfish. And the mainland wasn’t the place I remembered. Living in Hawaii had changed my perspective about a lot of things without my realizing it. I had changed.
So my father, Aunt and Grandmother surprised me on my birthday with a check to help me go back.
And I went back with new eyes and a new mindset, and I fell in love. I did more in my last year there than the previous two combined. I made more friends and spent more time at the beach and did all of the touristy things. I learned all of the local terms, and explored all of the neighborhoods, and tried all of the foods. I became yelp elite (haha).
And now I miss it. And I would go back.
To visit or to stay.
Part of me regrets the negative, self-pitying mindset I allowed myself to fall into while I was there. That I saw a lot of people fall into. But I am grateful I was able to come out of it and learn from it with time enough to enjoy that sunny, tropical paradise.