Moving away from Hawaii held a lot of mixed emotions for me as many of you already know. Leaving behind the first place I have put down roots in over a decade was a tough pill to swallow. On the flip side I was beyond excited about living so close to home and to have the opportunity to live with my parents while the husbs went off to training.
I knew things would be a little different this time around when we touched down in the PNW. I mean we were moving home for nearly three months not just visiting for a week! What I wasn't prepared for was how much my time in Hawaii had changed me. Not just that it..... RUINED ME! Surprise surprise I know, but it was so slow I didn't see coming.
See when I arrived in Hawaii from Virginia, a little over three years ago, I was almost the complete opposite of who I am today, to an extent. I was a small town girl who hated large cities (the lower half of the island is nearly one big city), massive amounts of traffic (Oahu is rated the #1 worst in the world) and large crowds (cue tourist season)! I was ghostly white and could not tan to save my life! I detested sand and had no intention of getting in the water. I also overheated easily on the best of days without the humidity factored in. Needless to say I stayed home a lot when I first got there.
Slowly though, Hawaii wove its way into my heart. From day one I appreciated the beauty of the island and the Aloha spirit that abounded, but it wasn't until my husband's deployment in 2015 that I gave myself over to it.
All the sudden the sand felt amazing between my toes and while I rarely got full body into the water, I always got at least knee deep. The traffic became an opportunity to jam out with the kids and I learned to live with the heat. The thing that clenched it for me was the sunrises and sunsets combined with the peace and Aloha I felt while watching them. I will never get over watching the sun rising and setting from that gorgeous island.
Funny thing is I knew all of this before I got on that plane, but it wasn't until after we landed and even a few days later that it hit me how much falling in love with the island truly changed me.
At first it was just the temperature dropping. It was in the 80s when we landed and quickly drop to the 50s with in days! I frantically ran out to buy clothes for the girls and I, because of course our "winter" clothes where not up to the task. Then it was the tap water coming out ice cold, when it used to come out warm. The girls were really bummed to lose their beach "exporing time" and big park. There are lots of hiking trails, playgrounds and parks here, but it was too cold for the girls just yet and a lot of them require a decent drive.
Then there is how small towns now drive me insane, or the distances I have to go to find any real shopping. The fact that I could drive around the entire island in that time or the crazy drivers. I could keep going, but that would take too long and I want to get to the biggest way that Hawaii "ruined" me.
It comes down to the Aloha Spirit... Everyone knows Aloha means hello and good bye, but a lot of people outside the islands don't know that it has another meaning...Love. Really though it's so much more then that. Just like The Golden Rule cannot be defined by three simple words neither can Aloha. It is really a way of life! The Aloha Spirit is one of love, selflessness, kindness, friendship, laughter, and light. It is part of what makes Hawaii so beautiful.
Since coming home I have seen gorgeous landscapes, felt the love and comfort of home and enjoyed the company of good friends and family. However the lack of Aloha Spirit here is palpable and it's disappointing, mainly because it's something that I wish everyone could experience! If I could send everyone to the islands to experience it even for one day I would do it in a heartbeat. It's more then just the on the surface caring. It's something you feel so deeply and so fully that it fills your soul to the brim and overflows allowing everyone around you to see and feel it and it's contagious! Don't get me wrong not everyone on the island has it, but it is in the majority and that is enough to make up for the rest.
It was because of this beautiful Spirit and her gorgeous sunsets that Hawaii slowly took over my heart and will forever be my second home. It may have ruined me for small town living and made it a little harder to adjust to anywhere else, but I will gladly accept that fate for the love and appreciation I have gained for the islands and for the greater love I have found for life and adventure.
I pray I always live life with Aloha and that I one day get to return home to Hawaii.