Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning the real meaning of "aloha"

With a move off the island imminent* we've started attacking our Hawaiian Bucket List with focus and determination. When we left California in 2008 after living there just a little over a year and a half we left full of regrets. We'd never had any reason to think we weren't staying there in California for the long haul so we hadn't felt rushed to explore and experience Northern California the way we could have. Consequently, we left realizing that we hadn't even visited some of the most obvious and amazing places in that part of the world.

So when we came to Hawaii we were determined to make the very most of this adventure and make sure that if we ever left we would do so with no regrets, with nothing left on our wish list of things to experience. As a result, we have experienced the islands like many, many locals never even experience. I've met people who've lived here their whole lives who've never been to Hanauma Bay, never visited the Arizona Memorial, never hiked Diamond Head. We've embraced the adventure of living here and taken part in as many Hawaiian experiences as we could. The happy result is that our original list of things that we wanted to be sure to do while here have been done! But of course we've added things to the list while living here and learning more of what the island has to offer. Our current Hawaiian Bucket List isn't actually very long. It consists of just a handful or so of things we haven't yet done but would like to do. And it also includes a few things we simply want to do one more time before leaving. Things that we've loved doing previously, places that hold special spots in our hearts. So we're packing our weekends with a few new adventures and revisiting some of our favorites. It's a very bittersweet time. But I LOVE that our Hawaiian Bucket List is mostly things we want to experience again. We've taken advantage of this place that we've called home for nearly 4 years. When we leave it will be with no regrets.

 Now in theory, the idea of redoing things that have been particularly special or important to us is a lovely idea. But when we started carefully planning our weekends to include each item on the list and then we actually started executing our plan I realized it was going to be brutally difficult to let go of this place. Ever since Willy lost his job in January I've known we'd be leaving the island, but I've been very selfishly in denial. When I truly think about leaving this place that has such a firm grip on my heart I weep. Every. Stupid. Time. My approach to dealing with the weepiness that results from thinking about the move is to... not think about the move. But we're running out of time, so I've had to think about it. And we've had to get serious about crossing things off our remaining list before we run out of time here.

So two weekends ago Willy and I took a trip to Waimea Valley to "hike" (aka walk up the lovely paved trail hehehe) through one of the most spectacular botanical gardens on the island for Willy to take pictures to his heart's content and for us to enjoy some time in the pool at the base of Waimea Falls. The first time I swam in the water below the waterfall I remember thinking "This is one of the most amazing things I've done in my entire life." The setting is spectacular. The waterfall is breathtaking and powerful. The experience is therapeutic and almost spiritual. I absolutely love Waimea Falls. It's one of my favorite places on the island. And somehow it became the first thing we crossed off our list of do-one-more-time experiences.

It also became the first place I had to say good-bye to.

We stayed in the 65 degree water much longer than we should have. We swam from one side of the waterfall to the other. We let the waterfall current push us across the pool of water and then we swam back to the base of the falls enough times that I lost count. We played together in the water and talked about how amazing the place was. We floated quietly and soaked in the experience. We postponed getting out of the water for as long as possible. But eventually it was time to leave.

As the sun dried and warmed me I studied my environment, trying to memorize the details. I didn't want to forget the beautiful cliff walls surrounding the water at the bottom of the Falls. I didn't want to forget the color of the rocks. I wanted to remember the greenery and vegetation of the valley. The temperature of the water. The slippery rocks under feet as you enter and exit the pool. The blue sky backdrop you see when you're floating on your back looking up at the Falls. I didn't want to forget a single thing.

But then it was time to go. And the most overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation for this place, one of God's most amazing creations, washed over me. How do you tell a location good-bye? How do you express to a place just how much you love, admire and appreciate it? "Aloha" means hello, good-bye and love. For the first time since moving here I think the full depth and meaning of the word reached my heart. I pressed my fingertips to my lips, blowing a kiss of sorts, while looking at the falls and whispered "Aloha".

And I wept. Because that's how I roll.

Waimea Falls, O'ahu, Hawaii

And a few of Willy's beautiful shots from the day. Is it any wonder that I'm emotional having to leave this amazing and gorgeous place?!

* Imminent move.... no formal job offer yet so no official relocation destination. But we're anxiously awaiting news from a company that has indicated that an offer is in the works. If the offer is right, we'll most likely be leaving at the end of June or very beginning of July. As bittersweet as it is to leave Hawaii, it will be a huge relief to get out of this limbo state of being that we're in right now and actually know where we're going next!


  1. first of all, ive follwed your blog for a little over three months now an i love seeing the photograpy on your site but something struck me when you were saying that its time to say good bye to the island, look at as a thank you for being given the time to be in a beautiful place where you and your family had many memories and adventures and where ever you are sent next will be just that another adventure and memories maker, i dont know if this makes sense but this is how i looked at moving while i was married to a service memmber in my past.
    sorry dont mean no offense with this but just thought id share a thought with ya.

    1. Thanks so much Melodie! No offense taken whatsoever. I think that's a beautiful perspective. Aloha is such an all-encompassing word that even though it doesn't actually mean "thank you" I do think that it's a word filled with gratitude and appreciation, and I definitely feel that when I think about this place that has been so special to me. I'm sad to have to leave because Hawaii has gotten so inside me emotionally. BUT! I'm really excited to get through the hassle of purging/packing/moving so we can start our next adventure. Someday I'd love to "plant our roots" but as long as my family is together we find a way to call each new location home and love it :) Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!