A year in paradise

Its been almost a year since we packed up and left California behind to come to beautiful Hawaii. This has been a year of self reflection for me. I have had to confront truths that I’ve been pretending not to notice as they were creeping into my life. More and more, I realized I grew old.

The transition in coming here to Hawaii was hard for me. Harder than I would have ever expected. In my semi-nomadic existence I have hard transitions before, but each of those I could very definitely pinpoint the reason, the unrealistic expectation I had brought with me. It was never so much coming to terms with transition as it was coming to terms with my own disappointment when a place, people, or job had not lived up to what I had hoped for. 

Not so for Hawaii. I came with much more limited expectations. I did not expect much and Hawaii has been pretty awesome, for its own part. I love our neighborhood here in Honolulu, and the lifestyle it allows us. We haven’t fully taken advantage of the beachy options, but we are not on vacation, real life takes over.

We hate the bugs, namely, the cockroaches, which is something I have never dealt with before and took rather personally. The giant roaches, centapedes, slugs, ants, flies and I don’t know what else are awful, actually it took away from my experience of hawaii a bit, initially. That is probobly the biggest negative we have here, aside from missing our families. 

None of that should affect me that much, I have transitioned to places with all kinds of challenges. I flew to Denver knowing no one, only to find I didn’t react well to the altitude. I studied in Italy, having gone without ever taking a single language lesson. I went to Bradford, where the culture was completely foreign to me… I made all that work, not always cheerfully, but the transition was never the problem. 

This time, the problem was me. I came here tired and old. By the time we moved to California, I had been ready to settle in somewhere nice, and felt like we were doing so. Then we up and leave. Paradise, it felt like, we could settle here. But in the trail of cities I have left behind, I have also left pieces of myself, of my vivaciousness and sense of adventure. My ability to adapt got chipped away without my even realizing it. I became more reserved, more nervous to try new things. The things I used to do terrified me. Fly halfway around the world with a group of people I had never met? Travel alone in a country where I don’t know the language and end up driving home in the middle of the night with some guy I met on the broken down train? Uhm, I could have been murdered! 

Now I have scenes from Jaws in the back of my mind when I go swimming in the ocean. I don’t share too much of myself with strangers. I feel the need to make plans before doing anything. What happened to me? 

This has been a year of trying to regain my youth. I joined a gym. I snorkel. I dance, or try at least. I write this blog, in itself a practice in being the open and trusting person I once was. I have reflected. I have spent time with a zen minister. I have wrote. I have drawn. I ate squid with the organs still inside.  I am trying to learn Spanish. I learned to garden. I have listened to the stories of women from around the world, who are trying to reclaim far more than I can imagine. I have spoken up for myself. I have spent time with my toes in the sand.

It has been a very humbling year. 

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