368 days ago our family, minus one, hopped on a plane for six hours and flew to what many call a paradise. Being as it wasn’t my first time as a resident of Honolulu, I landed knowing that is not always the case; paradise is a lot of things but it isn’t equally the islands of Hawaii. Maybe paradise is sitting on a sunny beach, all lathered up with sunscreen and cheersing a cold bevvie with someone you love, or it is riding bicycles with your SO, hair in a ponytail and the sun at your back as you feel the wind under your feet and around your neck. What I am saying is I think of paradise as actions or feelings, not locations.

The first few months

We arrived in Honolulu and went straight into quarantine with family for two weeks. We spent those fourteen days adjusting poorly to the warmth of Honolulu, the famished mosquitoes who loved feasting on our sweet blood, and admiring the daily dose of vitamin D we were now ingesting.

And my job search began.

Then, my job search continued. And in some rash logic, I chopped something like 10 inches off of my hair to cut out all the bad juju I was feeling, to renew myself, and to have some dramatic start-over, just like our move.

At some point, I counted 35-ish applications submitted all around the island. I edited my resume a slew of time. I began walking daily just to clear my mind and do something. And more importantly, I started taking it personal. I had invested so much time and effort into earning my degree in HR Management and earning my SHRM certification that it just baffled me that I was only phone screened twice out of all those applications. What became glaringly obvious was that Hawaii operated human resources very differently from the mainland – where time spent in a specialty was more important than my time as a generalist. Yes, that eventually ended and I landed somewhere amazing but wow did imposter syndrome rear its ugly head at me.

A house vs a home

A couple years ago, a friend messaged me privately asking how I can so openly share my life experiences in my blog without fear of hurting other people’s feelings. I said, I write from my side and I tell my truth. I still stand by that but it just hasn’t been feasible here in Hawaii. My words might affect others. That is the best explanation I can give on my one-year-blog-post-hiatus. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. And with that said…

In January we closed on our house alongside my father-in-love; this had been the plan for some time. This house has not been the greatest experience of my life for a myriad of reasons. Suffice to say the boys love their rooms, our dog loves her yard, and we anticipate a pool in the future.

When we drove by our old home on a visit to see family and friends, I turned away, unable to look at it. In that same sense, I cannot bring myself to share the Hawaii home. And that includes inside.

Island Time with Vee

Which brings me to the many friends who have reached out about Island Time. I really am continually surprised by how so many of you grew to love that weird little cooking show with me. I thank you all so much. We initially took a pause as the citizens of our nation cried out liberty and justice for all when it was becoming so glaringly obvious that still was not the case. It felt trite to film me making food while cracking eggs and jokes while protests erupted globally with experiences being shared that could bring you to your knees. George Floyd died and not one person opposed to the BLM movement has been able to eloquently excuse it or explain it away to me. Then the election. Then my grandfather died. No moment felt right, including purchasing this home that has not found my heart yet.

I don’t want to film it. Does that mean ever? I don’t know. It means not for now. I sincerely thank each and every person who has watched even one episode and cheersed with me and laughed. It means the world.

Family

Saying goodbye to my Grandfather before we left for Hawaii unsettled me. I knew without really knowing that I would not see him on this side again. As we began settling in here, I fell into a routine of calling him at least once a week on my drive in to work to chit chat. More often than not I would ask him how he was doing and almost always he would answer, I haven’t died yet. I would scold him, Grandpa, that is so morose! I mean, we danced this dance so many times that even though I knew it was coming it would still gut-punch me every time. We knew it was coming.

One of the last things he said to me was, the end is part of the journey.

I know it is true. It still hurts the same.

He passed on the morning of the election, which I laughed about because we disagreed so much on politics. He was convinced Trump would be reelected and he didn’t live to see that outcome. I find something poetic in this. I still think of him so often and being so far away from family was hard. I couldn’t just fly back because of my new job to hug my mom who had just lost her father. I couldn’t hold her hand and tell funny stories of him and his boisterous shenanigans and in turn, my other familial support was very limited. Grieving sucks. I wish I could have been with my family. I cannot thank my friends who became my family enough for the love and reaching out. I would be lost without you all.

Some of you have been able to visit me (I LOVE YOU SO MUCH) and some of you have weekly phone calls with me, and some of you have scheduled zoom happy hours. When you love people and they love you back, distance or a pandemic does not get in the middle of that noise. And I see you.

The Meanager

Parenting an adult son has been the tits, friend. No longer can I scold his one word responses or force him to answer my texts or calls. I’m always on a cliff of worry on if he is okay, if he is drinking water, if he is missing me, if he is not speeding while driving. I want to talk to him every day but in the same breath, I am not calling my own parents. Logistically, I know he is okay. I just want to snuggle him and chat with him. I have only gotten to physically see him twice since we moved and it hasn’t been enough. There are countless books on parenting small kiddos yet where is the What to Expect When You’re Expecting an Adult? Where is that nonsense? All the jokes about empty-nesters but what about missing-pieces-of-your-hearters? Where are they? Is there a support group? I would choose teething with him again over not seeing him daily. I would choose baby-poop blowouts with no diaper bag over not having him over for dinner and laughs every night. I want him to live his life and have the greatest time and still somehow be a part of it so bad that my heart physically hurts.

Hawaii and its new beginnings are harder without a complete family. I can love moments here while simultaneously missing so much from back home. And that is all I will say about that.

COVID

The end.

And then I shaved the side of my head.

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