Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hawai'i

I still vividly recall the first time that I saw a picture of the Laie, Hawaii Temple. It was the early 90's in a tiny branch building in Brazil, Indiana. The primary president had it sitting on the table as a display along with other temples. It was very similar to the one pictured below.


I was so struck by the image that I decided on that day that I wanted to be married there. About fifteen years later, I made good on that promise.

 I long had a fascination with the islands. I loved the movies and TV shows filmed there (Magnum PI and Blue Hawaii anyone?) and I loved hearing the stories from those who had been there. I pored over my grandparent's and parent's photo albums and all of my sister's pictures from when she worked there. When I finally journeyed there in 2007, it was surreal. I had finally made it to the far-off paradise I had been dreaming of for nearly my entire life. And it was everything I had dreamed. So much so, that in December of 2009 we moved to the island of O'ahu with the intention of staying there permanently.

Fast forward a few years. I never imagined that I would want to leave my island home, but that's what was happening. Ryan and I felt it very strongly: we needed to go. I didn't know why I felt this way and I had no reasons to give my friends in Laie so I just told them cop-out excuses that I myself didn't believe. Things like "we want to be closer to family" even though we haven't lived in the same state as our families since we left O'ahu in 2012. I couldn't explain it, because I myself didn't understand it. In time it became apparent that I was in need of medical care that I could not have gotten on the island, but we didn't know that at the time.

The parting from Hawaii was painful. I cried on the airplane home and I cried myself to sleep at night for a month after we had gone. It took nearly two years to be able to watch any movies or tv shows filmed in Hawaii. Even now, nearly five years after my departure, the islands still haunt my dreams at night. Not a day - not a single one - goes by when I don't think about the people who became my friends and ohana. I wonder how they're doing. I wonder if the ones who said they were moving to the mainland ever did. I wonder how the ones who were struggling with their health are faring. I wonder how grown up my former cub scouts are and if they still compete in sports.

Two weeks ago it all came to a boiling point - I took my kids to see the new Disney film Moana. It was during the credits that I turned to my husband and with tears streaming from my eyes said, "I have to go back." I have no cultural ties to Hawaii, but the islands still have claim on my heart. It's more than just palm trees and sand, I can find that here on the mainland. It's more than that. It's more than green mountains and blue ocean waves. It's a love for a people and a place that are unlike any other.

"Drums of the islands, I hear you calling me and I'll return forever yours."      

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