On a whim my family and I took a leap of faith, sold all our possessions and moved miles away to Hawaii. For a lifelong Jersey City girl, I felt a deep longing to trade the concrete jungle filled with road rage and grime for the lush landscapes and blue waters of Oahu. After 33 years in the same neighborhood, I was ready for a change. I was ready to wake up listening to birds chirping, to watch plumeria flowers blossom, to pick a fresh mango from the tree in my backyard and to live aloha with a genuine smile and a warm hug. It was time.
For many of you who’ve never moved from one extreme to another, I will tell you that the illusions of flowers blossoming and picking fruit from your backyard ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Those birds I wanted to hear chirping? Yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screamed to STFU. Remember, this wasn’t vacation mode anymore. This was real life. I had a job, responsibilities and a snooze button; I needed every second of sleep I could get and those birds weren’t helping. Reality and my delusions were on a collision course and it was only day 3. By our second month in, I seriously considered moving back east. All I wanted was the familiarity of the city. I wanted to order Chinese take out, I wanted someone to say something inappropriately funny, and what I really wanted was a taylor ham, egg and cheese on a roll. Please, not another f@&ing spam musubi. Mahalo.
But what could we do? We just moved 5000 miles away, sold our home, and enrolled our daughter in high school. No turning back now. Shit. So, in effort to immerse ourselves in island living- we did as the locals do. On our days off, my husband (who’s an islander by nature) loved to pack up the Mini Cooper with some poke, beers and beach chairs and drive top down to Kailua or the North Shore. He’d set up camp in the most perfect spot, somewhere underneath a tall palm tree that gave just enough sunlight for an even tan. We’d sit and watch the waves come in with warm billowy sand under our feet. The water was the just the right temperature to bask in. Our lives had gone from grey to technicolor. We’d drive past the Ko’olau mountains, eat at road side shrimp shacks, and enjoy beach bonfires with friends. We were living the idyllic life yet I wasn’t convinced this was ideal.
After four years, we decided to move back east. Our daughter was ready to start college and we wanted to be closer to family. As time went on, I softened to island living. I practiced yoga, stand up paddled, wrote my first blog and became a writer for Modern Luxury Hawaii. I made friends with coworkers and parents whom I shared many a cocktail with. We became part of their families and despite the land and sea between us now, they all hold a special place in our hearts. But even as I developed these new relationships and cultivated these fantastic experiences, it’s only in retrospect, ten years later, that I fully understand how magical those times were. The transition from city to island life was so drastic that instead of living in gratitude, I lived in a constant state of resistance and denial. My head and heart couldn’t be further apart making that crystal blue water seem pretty murky. This is a life lesson I now incorporate daily especially with the state of the world we live in today. Honor your space wherever you are; whether you’re moving a million miles from home or haven’t moved in a million years — honor where you are at this moment. Even if it’s the same old, same old or you’re completely out of your element, know that when it’s not available to you anymore that somehow all you’ll want is for things to feel familiar. Know that life is about the old and new all at once. That uncomfortable experiences and new places will seem overwhelming but if you’re open to it, you’ll grow. Appreciate the sum of all your parts and be pleasant to birds. It’s time.
Latest posts by Leslie Dimaya (see all)
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