Around Thanksgiving was the last time I sat down and gathered my thoughts for writing a post. I’ve found, since coming to Hawaii, that very fundamental things can change over a few weeks time. K and I have grown accustomed to packing up and leaving places we love only to return three months later.
This past season has been the best for me here in Hawaii. Sometimes it hovers around one of the best times of my life in general. I think there will always be parts of NY that I can’t negotiate leaving behind. No matter how ideal the circumstances, I long for how I feel when I’m with friends eating Korean fried chicken in dark places, downing bottles of soju, and arguing about politics or tv shows. Or walking miles around the city with Kat or Eleanor for hours and hours on a weekday afternoon, coming up with unnecessary errands just for an excuse to walk and talk a little longer. I accept that I don’t have that here–and it’s totally ok because I don’t believe that I exist in both places anymore. Hawaii has won me over for the meantime. I love it here. I love being here with K.
I love K.
This year is almost a completely different Hawaii from last year. Due in large part to finding this house. Sometimes I walk up to the front door and I already anticipate missing it someday. Every time we come home my heart surges a little bit and I say to myself I love this place. Corny!
I also never anticipated how much a car would change every aspect of my life. The first day that I had it (and K was working), I was so confused. Even though I had nowhere to go, I kept thinking I had to DRIVE somewhere. I made a special trip to get gas even though I had almost a full tank. Kat explained to me that that wasn’t how it worked. That you buy gas when you’re already out doing things so as not to WASTE gas GETTING gas. These are the sorts of things I didn’t know. I wondered if it was foolish to have a whole separate car for me at all. That feeling dissipated very quickly.
And with that went the era of blogging about frogs at the front door, or giant spiders, or pictures of empty jello cups. I no longer do yoga everyday (or hula) and I haven’t written a poem since the summertime.
Which is all ok. In fact its better.
If I can find a new way to write about all of it maybe I’ll be able to explain why.
Over and out!
The family that owns the house we’re living in, lives on the property too. All the units connect but we hardly ever see or hear each other. Downstairs in our house is a staircase that has a little post-it note sign: Please Do Not Open.
This door leads directly into our neighbors apartment. For the first time the other night, we got to see what lies on the other side. B and C had us over for dinner with some friends and neighbors.
I love this family. There’s something so easy and warm about them. The house, in a way, is an embodiment of their spirit.
One of our neighbor’s who came to the dinner also has left a strong impression on me. She is a huge personality and exudes a joyfulness that is so magnetic. She was a firefighter for 18 years. I love her stories. I could listen to them for hours.
We moved this past weekend.
I was instantly more comfortable in this house than places I’ve lived for years and years. Normally when I’m alone, I have to manage all kinds of irrational fears–including those of the supernatural realm. I spend most of my time looking over my shoulder… mulling over unfamiliar noises. I like to blast the TV to drown out any potentially alarming sounds. When K was here in Hawaii and I was back in NY, I went to bed every night with the TV turned up high. Every morning I would drag myself bleary-eyed into work at the museum with a venti coffee. I was so tired that many times I contemplated buying two ventis at once.
This house is free of bad feelings–free of dark corners or suspicious sounds. I was describing it to a friend and came up with a good metaphor. The house is like a labrador retriever: golden, warm, and solid. It’s like a big dog that embraces anyone entrusted to its care. When we’re out, I’m excited to come home. And when we’re home I’m constantly discovering new things. The other day, bringing in groceries, I peered into a giant pot which I thought was just a pot. Inside it was filled with water and tiny lily pads. Beneath the water I could see movement and when I focused I saw schools of tiny fish and tadpoles. In the morning a lotus blooms and emerges from underneath. As the day goes on it disappears only to come back the next day.
I love it here. All other places have dissipated.
We had friends in from out of town recently. Last year only a couple of people came to visit. This year there’s a steady march of people coming in from NY.
My friends, at our suggestion, came into Kailua one afternoon and because of a combination of unfortunate circumstances lost their wallet, iphone, license, money, and credit cards. We felt terrible for them.
They believed that they were bamboozled by locals that had the stereotypical signs of being crystal meth addicts. I have no reason to disbelieve them–they’re very reasonable, level-headed people. I’ve been thinking about it alot because it’s so different from our experience of Kailua. Would I feel the same way about this place if I hadn’t had the opportunity to slowly develop a love for it?
Their misfortune left me a little sad about Kailua but more sad that they would leave associating it with unhappy things. My friend encouraged us to get a guard dog in our new place. His wife added that we might consider a pitbull.
On the flip side we went to a dinner party the other night for a writer that was also visiting from out of town. He and his family had spent his two year sabbatical on Oahu. After his sabbatical ended they came back a couple of months later. This visit is their second vacation here in less than six months.
I asked K if he thought we would be like them after this year is done– coming back to Hawaii every few months because we miss it so much. He answered that he thought we’d probably be busy trying to establish a real home for ourselves in NY.
In the meantime, Kailua continues to be a revelation to me. I’m pretty certain that wherever we go and whatever happens to us I’ll always see this time as key in shaping my idea of home. Despite bouncing from place to place, I feel a sense of belonging here that I haven’t felt anywhere else.
Yesterday morning I realized that I suddenly felt at home in our temporary sublet. I thought the shift was worth noting because it’s not an unfamiliar feeling. I’ve felt it before –pretty much every time we return to NY.
A couple of days ago when we arrived at the rental, I felt a little nutso. I kept asking myself how I could feel so uncomfortable when my circumstances are basically like I’m on a permanent vacation. I’ve mentioned that the place felt cold. But it’s more than that. All my germaphobe tendencies were kicked into high gear and I hardly wanted to touch anything. Much less put any of my belongings in the drawers or closets.
It happened yesterday while I was sitting on the couch sketching and watching CNN. All of a sudden I realized I was comfortable. I spent the rest of the day making macaroni salad and putting things away as if we’re going to be here for more than the week we have left.
I guess the good thing is that since we don’t really have a place that our things can stay for more than a few months at time we don’t feel homesick for one place. The closest place we’ve felt that way about was our rental last year, which was very much someone else’s home.
I said to K a couple of days ago that for two people that need such specific circumstances to feel comfortable we sure do challenge ourselves to constantly adjust.
We’re back in beloved Hawaii. We came back a few weeks early so that we could find a home before K started working. Five days later and eight rentals visited we’re, as the English say, knackered.
Last year, the first place we visited ended up being our home for nine months. It was such a great experience–in some ways the best home K and I have ever had together. We thought that this time around it would be an even easier process.
We’ve visited a pole houses five miles up a mountain, condos in gated communities, a sweet little beach house on Lanikai; and an A-frame on lush Kaneohe bay. Each place was lovely on one hand and completely not right on the other.
We see our time here as an opportunity to really live a happy life. Manhattan is so rough, so challenging–it’s like living in a game show. But it’s our home and probably where we’ll live for many years to come. In contrast, we want to treat our limited time here in Hawaii as a real experience with as little compromises as possible.
It’s been an adventure. We’ve met such a range of people. One lovely woman let us drink beers on her lanai and then handed us fluffy towels so that we could take advantage of their private beach access. Another woman took a break from her store to show us her home for rent and then left us there with instructions to enjoy the space. One woman told me, when I politely said we were going to keep looking, that I could call her anytime to chat if I needed a girlfriend on the island.
Even more remarkable is that K and I have no place to show for it. For now we remain in a hotel using baby bottles of shampoo and conditioner, eating at restaurants for every meal, and occasionally reminding one another that wherever we are together is home.