Trigger warning: this story involves abortion, sobriety/addiction issues, and relationship loss. Please don't continue reading if these issues are too difficult for you handle.
This post is somewhat about the first time I went to Hawaii, but it's also about why I want to move there permanently. As if just the idea of a tropical island itself isn't enough. But, I'll start at the beginning. The first time I went to the State of Hawaii I visited Kauai Island because my best friend had moved there while I was in rehab for addiction. My new sober boyfriend and I flew there when I was about 3 months sober. That was in 2007. I was in a very weird place mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. In full disclosure I had just terminated a 5 week pregnancy and was going through all the blood-loss during the trip and was a bit of a wreck. Okay, I think I'll need to back it up even more. About 4 months prior to me going to treatment, the love of my life (at the time) dumped me because of my addiction, I kept telling him I'd get better, and I wasn't. I left him no choice, I know this. I also believe I didn't choose addiction and even after I got out of treatment he wouldn't speak to me. I thought maybe if I got sober he'd come back. I was trying to give him space, but also neither one of us was really very good at dealing with our feelings so we just avoided talking. I tried to call a few times and he tried to get off the phone as quickly as possible. I figured I was never going to get him back and after getting sober for real a month after treatment, I lost all my friends because they were all still partying and I needed a break from it all to really stay away from the booze and bars. I told them if there was more holding our friendship together than partying, then after 90 days of radio silence we'd pick back up where we left off and be better for it. I had to set this firm boundary with them, they couldn't fathom the magnitude of what I was trying to do (just changing everything over here, no biggie). So I went to meetings and worked the steps with my sponsor, and I met some people my age right away and we'd all go to coffee afterward and this one guy asked if I'd like to go to coffee one on one. I was only a week sober, but I was lonely. My parents were great but I needed sober connections. So I said yes. I'd like to say I really liked him, but in reality he was a nice person, who liked me, and I needed a friend. On the way to the airport to Kauai with my new beau in the back of the car next to me my phone rang. I answered it, it was my ex! He was finally wanting to talk, but he heard my boyfriend asking "who is that?" and I blurted out "we are on our way to Hawaii." Crap, did I just say "we!?" he hung up on me. I obviously couldn't call him back. A week earlier I had found out I was pregnant from my sober boyfriend and we went to a clinic together to get a pill to make me start my period and thus end the pregnancy. I hadn't told my parents. I knew I didn't want to marry this guy let alone start a family with him. My mom was driving us to the airport and asked "Who was that on the phone?" in a cheery voice. I wanted to explode. Or disappear. I wanted to jump from the moving car and go find my ex and explain it all to him! But I sat there and said "Oh, one of my friends..."
The Universe is a funny and unpredictable place. Though I still think of both of my ex-boyfriends very fondly, I'm glad I ended up where I am instead, and with my husband who I wouldn't meet until 5 years after that first trip to Hawaii. You see, my husband is the perfect partner for me and he shares a deep love for Hawaii and gets wanting to move there and has made this goal of mine his goal too. I don't know if either of them would have granted me my wish, and it was my wish from the first day I experienced Hawaii. That was over 13 years ago at this time. So, back to the first trip... My new boyfriend and I got asked a few times on the flight over if it was our Honeymoon. We blushed and said no, although we were two kids (24 yr old kids) about to go to paradise for the first time without our families. It felt kind of grown-up! I wish I could say I had no fear about traveling independently or with a partner, but that is not part of my story, I was deeply afraid of doing things by myself (If that isn't abundantly obvious from my boyfriend-hopping adventures, more on that another time). He did all the arrangements from the hotel to the car to asking for directions. In the end of our relationship 2 years in I actually think my independence is what drove us apart. As I grew into my power and freedom I needed him less, and I think he wanted someone who needed him more. Such is life I guess. In Kauai one afternoon after a day on the beach we went up into the mountains to go hiking. My best friend told us we would be doing it barefoot. It didn't sound like a great idea, but she said to trust her, so we left our shoes in the car. Not recommended for all trails in Hawaii, but this trail was only about 3 miles and was soft, very broken down, volcanic soil. It was so soft underfoot, it was like a magical, black velvet. We hiked through a tunnel of fragrant, blooming trees and ferns nipped our heels the whole way down the sacred path. It sprinkled a little on us and when we came to the clearing at the end overlooking a huge valley down to the ocean a mist had settled in the valley and hawks were cruising down below. The afternoon sun had dried up some clouds and poked through the creating rainbows in the mist. It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life up to today. We sat in silence and just stared at the valley for what felt like an hour. I think we brought peanut butter sandwiches and while my new boyfriend chatted with some other hikers I just reflected. I wanted to be one of the hawks in the valley and I watched them soar and I started to cry. I didn't let anyone see the tears, I just wanted The Universe to heal all the hurt in my heart. I wanted my old life back, or a completely new one. I was totally broken open and confused at first at my tears. But then for a few moments on that mountain, I felt connected to the earth and the oneness of everything that was happening from losing my old life and the idea of a child in me and my ex-boyfriend to my love for my sobriety and the joy of this trip and I was deeply sad while simultaneously immersed in gratitude. The two people on that hike with me that day, I no longer talk to. Going to Hawaii for the first time was the beginning of my relationship with myself that needed healing. I met a lot of really beautiful and friendly people on that trip, but there was something about the island that spoke to something ancient within me. The care for the earth, and the culture of Aloha was something I was looking for, a community I had been looking for. We went back to visit the other three major Islands (Big Island, Maui, and Oahu) the next summer with the most time spent on Maui. I went zip-lining and mountain biking by myself one day while my same new boyfriend worked, I had the time of my life. He was insanely jealous and wouldn't let me talk about my day. I didn't really care. I wanted it to be mine anyway. We ate oysters in Lahaina at a beautiful ocean-front restaurant that night and I made a wish to the sea that my life could someday, always be like my life on Maui that day (I no longer eat oysters, but it was still a fun dinner), outside and free. You see, sadly, I've never been super ambitious. I mean that in the best way possible. In fact, I mean that in a fantastic way, as in "I've never been that ambitious, because deep down I don't believe we are defined by the things we do, but the character we develop and the service and love we give to others and the planet, woo-hoo!!!!!" My father owns restaurants, my mother was a lawyer and hated it and quit after 3 years and mostly just raised us, albeit not joyfully. Neither have been able to get outside of what the world expected them to do or entrapped them in. Which in my opinion has led to a lot of addiction in both. My father it's work, television, food, sex (in many forms), anger, cigarettes, caffeine shopping, talking, politics, and internet. And for my mother it's politics, television, gossip, fear, martyrdom, sleeping, food, information, and sometimes reading to escape. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pure yet, I still have my vices too (idealism, reading, internet, anger, fear, caffeine, chocolate, memes (jk)). I am not under the illusion (thankfully) that there are no challenges in Hawaii. It's still life and I'll still be in the lessons of Earth School. A good look at this is the last time we were in Hawaii, about 6 months ago. We were trying to save money and stayed at a sketchy BnB and the owner was most definitely on drugs and a hoarder. My three year old said our first night in the kitchen "look at all these bugs!" She thought it was great. We ended up leaving and booking a more expensive place and being out quite a bit of money just trying to save some on the front side. It was a scary place for my mother in law and kids to be left while Jason and I had fun (tried, without succeeding bc of the energy of chaos and addiction and fear we were leaving behind when we left) during the day. So I know there is darkness everywhere, even in paradise. I'm not under the assumption that everyone in Hawaii will be happy I've decided to move there either. I have met a lot of people, mostly families at restaurants, that were most assuredly my tribe however. As a mostly whole-foods vegan mom in recovery who likes long distance running, snorkeling, surfing, and being low-waste and permaculture-y, and hates the cold I feel like it's a pretty good fit. Oh yeah, and I love the isolation. I'm a pretty simple-hearted being and I pretty much just need my family and maybe a few other friendly villagers to fill my social needs. I've taken a pretty solid vow against consumerism (nowhere near perfect) if it is harmful to the planet or doesn't add to the service of the world in some way (i.e. a piece of property for a regenerative agriculture center, or sober living, or a treatment center, or ethically made clothing and goods etc). I know I don't know enough yet about Hawaiian culture, and I need to do my homework there, but what I do know about their respect for the earth, and each other has left me with a longing for more. We have mostly decided the northern end of the Big Island is where we'd like to end up. Affordability is a big part of it, but we also like that it's big! Lots of farms and trails. I'm pretty cool with wherever as long as we make it there. Recently we decided to not move to a bigger beach house here in Florida so that we can save for a property in Hawaii and I can feel the excitement and rightness of our choice. Jason and I have been to Hawaii together three times over the past 3 years, our first trip was to Kauai, and the two subsequent trips have been to The Big Island. We have looked at a lot of properties and thought we almost found the right one, but then someone put a contract on it before us, so oh well... After our first trip to Kauai, Jason told me "you really come alive here, it's really beautiful." And he's right, in my heart, it is my home away from home, my beloved. I think about it everyday. On that trip, we went snorkeling and one of the instructors also taught free diving and said, "you'd be a natural". Either he could see how much I love the water and how I flowed freely in it (I am a Pisces after all) or he was just looking to make more money, but it felt genuine. And I cannot wait to do that. I just hope that I can do Hawaii justice and be a good steward of the land while it's on loan from "The God Force" (Stuart Wilde). I know moving to Hawaii is not sustainable for everyone, but in this lifetime, I got lucky enough to be blessed with the means and drive to do it. I hope everyone gets to find a place that they feel at home someday. I hope you all find your black velvet magic carpet and dare to hold on to wherever it will take you.