Tuesday, September 15, 2015

To Hawai'i and Back Again

It’s been a while. A lot has happened in the last several months, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. My life is full of constant change and reevaluating of old ideas and the old me. I’m growing in ways I never thought possible, yet at the same time, some of my emotional issues make me feel like I’m in a backspin and not growing at all. But I know that’s untrue. With growth and change comes a lot of self-reflection, which surprisingly produces tears. Why did no one tell me this? About a month ago, I finally stopped crying. I think my body ran out of tears. This is a good thing. I made it over the first difficult stage of a divorce. I am no longer bound by my own emotions, but able to look beyond myself and pull my head out of my ass, where it has been living since March. I’m able to see the world again and experience life instead of having blinders on and only dealing with what is going on in my head.

I’m writing this post while on a 5 hour 44 minute plane ride from O’ahu, Hawai’i, to Seattle, then on to Boise. It was a five-night trip home to see my family, officiate my cousin’s wedding, and renew my grandparent’s vows and celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. It was probably my busiest trip to the island and the only time I didn’t get to go swimming. I put my feet in the water and walked along Waikiki Beach and the North Shore while I was there, but my swimsuit stayed dry and packed away in my suitcase. That’s okay though, even just feeling the power of the ocean on my feet and watching the waves crash onto the beach was enough to rejuvenate me and give me back the power that I had lost for so long.

As I walked through security at the Hawai’i airport this morning, the security checkpoint guy asked if I was traveling with anyone after checking my ID and boarding pass. I told him, “No, I’m traveling alone.”

“Why?” was all he asked.

It took me by surprise and I felt that I had to validate why I was traveling alone, but I certainly did not want to tell him that it’s because I’m newly divorced. I didn’t need to share that information with him. And for some reason it sounded weird in my head to admit. So, I just told him, “well, I came here to officiate my cousin’s wedding.” As if that’s a reasonable excuse for traveling alone. It’s not. Officiating a wedding has nothing to do with traveling alone. I traveled alone because I CAN. I traveled alone because I WANT to. I traveled alone because I don’t NEED to travel with anyone. I traveled alone because I am an INDEPENDENT woman. I know it’s weird to travel to Hawai’i without a partner, the romantic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But I can have a love affair with the islands. I can have a love affair with myself. I’m not traveling alone. I have me! Besides, I was with family the majority of my time there; I’m only riding the plane alone. That’s a huge difference.

Officiating my cousin’s wedding on Saturday was such a blessing and I am incredibly honored that she would ask me, her oldest cousin, to take on that job. When I saw her step onto the grass and proceed down the aisle with her sister, I started crying. These cousins mean so much to me and to watch them grow up and celebrate such a joyous life change just makes my heart swell. Performing that wedding, then celebrating their love at their reception, was one of the happiest days of my life in recent memory. Before I closed my cousin’s ceremony, we surprised everyone by renewing our grandparent’s vows for their 60th wedding anniversary. The initial look on our Tutu’s (grandmother’s) face was the same look she gave us when we had done something wrong like not take our slippers off before walking into her house. That look in her eye said, “you two are going to get it when we’re done here!” Within seconds, however, her face relaxed and you could see that she appreciated the gesture and loved that we were doing this for her and our Papa. Although our Papa is struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and has a difficult time remembering and comprehending things, he understood what was going on. And every time I asked him and Tutu to do something in their wedding vows, such as promise to love each other for eternity, and keep each other in sickness and in health, Papa answered, “Yes.” It was beautiful.

I stayed in my parent’s hotel room while I was there and we had a wonderful time together. I’m the oldest of four kids. The last time I was alone with my parents was when I was two years old. Beyond that it’s always been us and the siblings, or us and my ex-husband, which I have no complaints about - that’s what family is - but it was really awesome to spend some time alone with them. Just the three of us hanging out and celebrating life together. I finally saw them as people and not just my parents. They are two individuals with their own views and opinions. I saw them in a new light and I have a new respect for them and everything they have provided for us. I also know where I get my ability to hold my liquor better than most people I know. No worries, Mom and Dad, I cleaned the fridge of all the beer before I left. HA!

My parents left the island on Monday, leaving me “alone” for an entire day before I got on my plane to head back to the Mainland on Tuesday morning. So, I rented a car and drove to the north side of the island, to the country, the part of the island that I grew up on. I stopped at the cemetery that our original ancestors are buried at. I placed leis on their gravestones and said a blessing, thanking them for the life they started and the ohana they gave us. As I drove that road toward the mountains that protect our cemetery, I started crying. The power of the islands can get overwhelming. The energy is intense.

While I was in Hawai’i, I had a lot of work and homework to complete – no rest for the busy – so I took my homework with me to the north. I went to the restaurant/bar on the beach at Turtle Bay and ordered mojitos and an ahi avocado dip with shrimp chips. I sat there with a view of the ocean for two hours to work on a school project. It’s not ideal to do homework in Hawai’i, but if you’re going to do it somewhere, you might as well do it on the beach with a drink. I then drove to the North Shore beach, got out and walked to the ocean. The sand on that side of the island is so different from the sand in Waikiki, where we were staying. My feet sank into the warm sand as I watched the clear blue waves hit the shore. The water was warm on my legs and the salt air cleared my lungs. After I got my fill of the ocean, I drove back to Waikiki to have dinner with my cousins. They truly know the meaning of ohana and I am forever grateful that they are constant reminders of our love for each other. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for these beautiful people.

My experiences over the last few months have varied from one degree to the next and have sat on opposite sides of the scale of emotion. I have had some amazing moments with friends and family and I’ve had some dark moments with myself. I’m learning to live alone and I’m discovering that the hardest part about not having another human in the house is the loneliness at night. The emptiness of a four-bedroom house can be suffocating, but I’m surviving. I talk to Frodo and the cats as if they understand me and we’ve become closer as a little family. I know that when I arrive in Boise, I will walk into a house devoid of people, but there’s a little part of me that’s looking forward to the fact that my house will be just as clean as it was when I left, with the exception of the cat party. And I am totally excited about that.

I know in my heart that this trip was the second of many -I returned this past February and I’ll return again soon. The older I get the more I realize just how important family is and how I need to keep them in my life. We may live miles apart from each other, but the distance in our hearts is minimal.