I think the idea (and reality) of me leaving has hit. I had my last day in the office Thursday to distract me, then my going away BBQ yesterday. Now it’s just me and half-filled boxes spread around the apartment, waiting to be packed and sealed. I feel overwhelmed which is expected though I was hoping to stay zen until I stepped on the plane (and hopefully after). I don’t feel ready for this. So I’ll go through the motions as I need to and slowly get there, though I don’t have much time. Worst case scenario, I leave it all behind.
I’m getting somewhat exhausted at saying goodbye. I feel appreciated and loved, but in some ways I just want to leave already and get it over with. It’s a little bit like a bandaid slowly getting pulled off. Then I feel awkward about it all: the attention, the sadness, the guilt over leaving, the “nice to know you’s”, “we’ll be in touch”, “let me know how you’re doing”, and so on. Simultaneously I’m trying to process and navigate through the feelings I’m experiencing, as they fluctuate from moment to moment. And where is there space for grief? I am no stranger to grief and the pit in my stomach, heaviness and a deep sense of sadness is all there, waiting to have the attention it needs.
How do I leave behind all the memories here? So much has happened, so much has changed. Will I be the same person when I leave? I am not the same person who came here over 5 years ago. I’ve learned to slow down and really enjoy life in a way I never knew how. I’ve learned to value quality of life over career and status and to see people for who they are versus what they do. I have shed some of the seriousness I have carried with me my entire life and learned to laugh unabashedly. I found and lost love, became motherless, and experienced one of the greater losses in my life. I’m older and wiser, and have weathered storms I could’ve never imagined to have rained down on me.
Yet I move on, trying to be brave as I start over in a place I call home, even though it’s been 15 years since I’ve lived there. Will it still feel like home? I don’t know. I don’t know what is ahead of me and I’m scared but thrilled about the opportunities that have already arisen.
So much of me wishes I didn’t have to go, but everything within me knows it’s time. I will back, even if just as a visitor.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned while here is that “aloha” is not only real, it’s a state of mind. Hawaii will always have a place in my heart. It always has.
At this moment, in two weeks, I’ll be departing to California. I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m leaving or if I’ve just learned to be a happier person, but these past few weeks have been amazing. Shortly after I decided to move, I made the conscious decision to live in the moment and enjoy myself as much as possible until I leave. I understand that it may be a while until I return to Hawaii and I may never have the chance to live here again; I want to spend my time relishing my Hawaii ohana and the immense beauty that surrounds me. Outside of work, I’ve been mostly surfing, spending time with friends, gardening, hiking, etc. Of course I’ve spent time packing and taking care of the particulars of moving, but I’ve been able to simplify the process due to choices I’ve made.
Making this choice to live in the moment has been revolutionary for me. I normally would be suffering from crippling anxiety and instead I’ve decided not to worry about my future until I have to. I’m going to let life unfold in California when I get there. And I’m not afraid. I feel like this is how I’m supposed to live – moment by moment, trusting myself – and I have somehow now just learned this at 39.
A word that has come to mind lately is “liberated”. I’m okay with not knowing the future. I’m okay not knowing if things will work out or not when I move. I’m okay with trusting things WILL work out…whether it’s in California or elsewhere.
The bigger question is…what will I call my blog???
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community. What does that mean to me? How do I find it here in Hawaii? Graduating from grad school left behind a sense of emptiness in its wake. I received an advanced degree, but I lost a community. I recognize several people are still in Hawaii and I consider them close friends (though my closest friends have left) but what brought us together is no longer there. And it’s not like I want to go back; I don’t. But I have yet to see what will fill that space. It’s been over a year since I graduated but I still feel empty at times.
In an effort to meet more people, I tried paddling. Paddling in Hawaii is fascinating. It can be fiercely competitive and your team is your tribe. At the regatta’s, each team fly’s a flag with their team name and huddles together under their pop-up tents. Matching team shirts, shorts, hats, stickers, towels…you name it. I tried the top women’s team, then ended up with a significantly less competitive, and slightly disorganized team. It was a good fit. Interestingly, it the season came to a halt due to internal politics (or paddle-tics) and I’m ready to move on.
What I’ve been sitting on for actually years now is a spiritual community. Over the past few months, I’ve been attending a service at the Unitarian church on and off. And it feels like home. It’s not so much the message or sermon, but the desire for community as a congregation. At one service during the opening words, a man mentioned something along the lines of, “We are here for the same purpose: a people hungry for community”. And that stuck with me. Where in our daily lives do people speak like this? I am not sure where this path will lead me but I’m thankful it exists. I am willing to begin the journey for now. I sometimes grieve the person of faith I used to be years ago; I’m hoping now I can at least believe in community.