When you move to Maui, or any other Hawaiian island, you quickly find that many of the people who have moved here from the Mainland have been on-island for less than 3 years. It’s strange, but Hawai’i is very transient; I have said goodbye to so many friends in the past five years we have lived here. But if I could go back to that moment we said “OK” to move to Hawaii, I wouldn’t change my answer.
Labor Day weekend, this weekend, marks five years in Maui. I can’t believe how quickly those five years have gone by.
I grew up in a small town in Michigan. You know, the kind that looks like something straight out of 1950s Pleasantville. Where the day the Dairy Queen opens in March is like a local holiday and everyone knows everyone knows everyone. Oh yeah, and if you’re from the town and your parents and grandparents grew up there, be careful about who you date–they may be related to you! You all know that kind of town; it’s idyllic rural America.
(Above: my parent’s backyard)
(visiting Ann Arbor in October 2013–just 20 minutes outside of my hometown)
I had no dreams of moving outside of Michigan. But then the call came: and it was the best call we could have received (read more about that call and it’s impeccable timing here)
So today, as I reflect on 5 years in Maui, I decided to write a love letter to my right-now home:
The first six months we were together, I felt every emotion that was associated with a new relationship: the thrill of something new and surprising as well as the fear of rejection and failure. We were off to a rocky start. I felt isolated with you and didn’t know if being with you would fill the gap that my absent friends and family had left with my exodus from my last love, Michigan. It was an up-hill battle.
But slowly, and with time, we became the best of friends. The fear, while still ever present in my life, began to dissipate and I began to see what you really were: a place for solace and simplicity. You are a place that focused more on who you are rather than what you have accomplished; you challenged me to look at things in a whole new way.
I found that letting go of stress and fear enabled me to be the person I have always wanted to be. You helped me do that. Amazing opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences have been laid at my feet in your presence. I spent my first two years with you exploring the land and what it had to offer. By the beginning of year three, you introduced me to paddling–which also challenged me physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I have swam in waterfalls, climbed through caves, plunged in your oceans, seen the most breath-taking sunsets, and fallen in love over and over again with you. My life is so different than I could have ever imagined it being.
Maui, you will never be the same as where I grew up, but I don’t expect you to be. As long as you keep challenging me to become a better wife, friend, photographer, and paddler (of course), I feel that we will be together for a long time.
So happy Hawai’i anniversary, Maui. Thank you for all the ups, downs, and everything in-between.
With much love and aloha,