This segment of our trip has been completely different than the others. To be honest, we never had trouble leaving a place (except maybe El Bolson, Argentina). Of course we met great people in South America, but here in Hawaii, there is a rooted bond, foremost to our friends — friends who took us under their wings as soon as we arrived in February and helped navigate us to the best and brightest of this island. There aren’t really words to thank my cousin Pratt and her husband, Craig (my new cousin), for all they’ve done for us, but hopefully they know how much we’ve appreciated everything. As for the rest of our new ohana (Hawaiian for “family”), there was always an invite to the beach, an offering of a car, a vacant bed to sleep on, a proposal for dinner and more. They’ve taught us a huge lesson in generosity, positivity and that aloha spirit that we will always carry with us.
But it wasn’t just the people. It was also our environment that changed us in significant ways. There’s something about living in constant sunshine, with the sound of crashing waves, the impulse to be outdoors and the easy-going nature to live slowly that has done wonders in shedding not only my New York negativity, but the angst and anxiety that used to accompany it as well. I feel lighter, happier and more open-hearted because of it.
It was good to sit here and stay a while. Not only to take a break from backpacking, but to teach me how to sit still and enjoy it, too. It’s funny how some people need to be forced to travel and get outside their comfort zones, whereas I need to be forced to stay put. I wasn’t completely successful, but I think I have a better handle after recognizing just how bonkers I was becoming.
I do think my tiring job played a part in my bummed-outness, but I now know why I wasn’t happy working a job “just to get by” and so fervently searching for my One Great Passion to Pursue. Though there’s a chunk of the population that works odd jobs just to get by in paradise, I did meet a few people who came to Hawaii specifically to pursue their dreams, like my co-worker at the smoothie shop whose primary job is training dolphins. Seeing that sort of drive was inspiring — for better or worse in my case. It’s taught me that I wasn’t put on this planet to pursue something that’s just a means to an end. I’m still waiting for that One Great Passion, and I’m — now — OK with waiting to find out what that is.
And it’s for all of these reasons that I’m so bummed to be leaving. In fact, I was getting a little choked up when we were leaving the Big Island last Monday. It was temporary relief to know that our camping group was just flying back together to Oahu, but that sensation of saying goodbye and sitting apart on the plane was a very rude awakening of what we’d be experiencing when we leave for Hong Kong. We know that moving on to travel is what’s right for the both of us at this point in time, but it doesn’t make it any easier to leave.
I certainly hope we come back to this great state, if not for good, then at least to spend time with our new family. Goodbye and mahalo to Hawaii and our ohana. We’ll miss you dearly.