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A Hui Hou – Thoughts on Leaving Hawaii

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The time has come to say “a hui hou” to our island home. We’ve been here twice as long as we originally imagined and, while a part of me will always be sad and want to ask my husband “Remember that time we lived in Hawaii?” I also know that it’s time for us to go. Today we’re boarding a plane for the Mainland and I don’t know when, if ever, we’ll be back in Hawaii. People keep asking if we’ll return to visit, but it’s a very long way from the East Coast!

So much has changed for us while we’ve been in Hawaii, and most of the changes emphasize why it’s time for us to move on. We’ve gotten engaged, married, and had a baby since moving here. My husband’s family wasn’t able to make the trip from Florida to Hawaii for our wedding because it was prohibitively expensive, but his submarine schedule gave us no real choice to go elsewhere. We’ve both lost family members including, most impactfully, my dad and grandmother. Our LG is currently the only “next generation” family member in my entire extended family and the only grandchild on my husband’s side. (He can’t really keep his cousins straight, so I’m not sure if any of my husband’s first cousins have kids! I love to tease him about the time he told me someone was his “uncle or cousin or maybe just a neighbor or something.”) It’s time for us to be closer to family. Additionally, it’s time for us to be done with submarines. I know there are plenty of submariner families, but losing my dad while my husband was on deployment and unable to return home at any point to help was an incredibly difficult experience for us both. He will probably be on deployment again at some point in the future since he’s going Reserve, but it shouldn’t be on a submarine and the circumstances will be different.

We’re also tired of all the traffic and construction on Oahu and constantly frustrated by the high prices. We did the math and realized that we could have purchased a house in my home town with all the money spent on rent since my husband first moved here! But on Oahu that same money would get us about 1/6 of the way towards buying something small on a lot so tiny it’s measured in square feet. There’s a serious lack of affordable housing and it’s a major problem of ra lot of people. We’re ready to be somewhere a bit more savings friendly and where we can have a bit more “peace and quiet.” Living in an apartment building where everyone’s windows are always open means it was never really quiet, plus we were by a pretty busy road. It became increasingly annoying after LG was born – it’s quite aggravating to have sudden loud noises wake your baby on a regular basis! Motorcycles, dogs barking, even neighbors snoring and sneezing were all regular sounds.

All that having been said, there are things I will miss. The water here is really lovely (though I think South Carolina’s beaches are way better! But SC’s water is dark and murky thanks to lots of streams and rivers). I’ll miss the opportunity to photograph the Milky Way. I will absolutely miss the opportunity to take sunrise and sunset photos over the ocean. I’ll miss Kaena Point, my favorite place to take sunset and Milky Way photos, and also where I took many of my favorite self portraits (the sunset photo lower on the page is from Kanea Point). I’ll really miss the gym down the road we’ve walked to for years. I’ll miss friends. I’ll miss those times when I managed to find some peace and was able to hear the trade winds rustling in leaves and smell plumeria blossoms. I’ll miss the idea of of living in Hawaii.

I think part of it is that we’re currently just not the type of person who really thrives here. If we wanted to live the surfer lifestyle, for example, I’m sure we’d have very different feelings about leaving. If our families were here that would change things, too. My husband grew up in Miami and didn’t mind the traffic and crowded beaches when he first arrived, but has come to really appreciate a greater amount of personal space. He went from telling me that he kind of liked sitting in traffic (???) to being frustrated with just how busy everything is all the time here. It’s pretty sad, actually – I know that tourism is a major industry for Hawaii, but I hope they decide to put the breaks on development soon. We visited Molokai this winter and I can’t blame the people there for not having stoplights, elevators, streetlights, etc. If I lived there and looked at Oahu, I’d say NO WAY! Keep that junk out of here! It amazes me that people still rush to develop places when you can so plainly see the detrimental impact of overdevelopment on other tourism and costal areas. (The same goes for Charleston, SC. I haven’t been there in three years and I hear it’s an incredibly different place these days.)

I have learned a lot, grown, and changed during our time in Hawaii and I’m thankful for that. We have plenty of good memories and an absurd number of photos. It’s forever changed my perception of the Mainland. After living in, apparently, the most geographically isolated place on Earth, I just can’t see anywhere OCONUS as being ‘in the middle of nowhere’ anymore because it’s so comparatively easy to get somewhere else.

Aloha, Hawaii. It’s been real, but it’s time for us to go.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Cynthia May 4, 2018, 13:38

    So bittersweet to leave such a beautiful place. We felt exactly the same way when we finally moved from San Francisco back to the East Coast. We’d been there 15 years and it was hard to imagine leaving, but then it was hard to imagine staying. We wanted the kids to be closer to family, we wanted the kids to have better schools and we wanted them to grow up outside a city. It took quite a while to settle in, at least for me, and there are still days when I really miss our life there. But it was the right move for our family. Hope you guys settle in easily!

    • Natasha May 5, 2018, 05:02

      A cross country move after 15 years must have been quite difficult physically, too! I never imagined that I’d be happy to move back to my “home town” (We actually moved here when I was in 7th grade), but being gone for several years and having a child of my own have changed my perspective.

  • Sarah May 4, 2018, 08:08

    I hope you have a wonderful life in your new home. My husband is from Ireland and some of the areas around his home are absolutely beautiful. He’s very fond of saying though – “you can’t eat the scenery”. If the place doesn’t support you how you’d like, it’s time to go 🙂

    • Natasha May 4, 2018, 10:00

      I’ve never heard that expression before – I like it!

      Added bonus: We couldn’t have cats or dogs in our old apartment – now we get to hang out with my mom’s indoor kitty, outdoor kitty, and her giant fluffy dog!

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