Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Life Shining Brilliantly"

Well, the day finally came. I dreamed about this ever since I first set foot on these islands when I was twelve years old. I never thought it would be feasible for me to actually live here, but my life has taken so many unexpectedly beautiful leaps and turns in a whirlwind that ended up gently laying me here in this paradise, and I couldn't be more grateful. There have been a number of seemingly less-desirable twists and turns in the past year or so that I know also led to this, for which I have also been taught to be grateful. Lesson learned? No matter how cliche and obnoxious it is for people to tell you that "everything happens for a reason," when things are falling apart in your life -- listen. Their words are from God. It is such an enormous truth that it bears repeating from an annoyingly abundant number of occasions and people, so that it just might stick -- and prove itself to be the truth in your life.

I knew before I made the big move that I would need to start a blog to update everyone on my new life here, and also have a camera on me at all times so as to not miss any photo-ops to be included in it. I have been successful with the camera so far. I don't think I have left the house once without it -- even at the house it is necessary! I missed them by about a week, but apparently every night at sunset in the winter months you can see whales jumping and playing by the shore and on the horizon... of which we have a ridiculous view. But I am even snapping pictures of the day-to-day excitements, such as giant green bugs in the laundry room, fun with the outdoor sand shower, and oversized weekend pancake extravaganzas. :)

Due to my infatuation with Hawaiian culture (both modern and traditional), I decided to name my little blog "Ola 'Alohi," which literally (loosely) translated means, "healthy vigor of life shining brilliant." That about sums up how I feel living here. It was a toss-up between that and "Puka Lani" (heavenly gate), or "Lele Hau'oli" (joyo
us leap, or move/disembark, fly). I know, the latter sounds pretty fitting, but it's a little harsher on the haole (non-native, white) tongue. The less we butcher it, the better. 

So for those of you who may not know the full story, allow me to give you the rundown of how I ended up in this incredible place. I moved to Portland late last year after having overstayed my welcome in my beloved Corvallis. When you're older than most of the senior (and even some super senior) Beavs, and not actually in school, it's kinda time to move on. There were other factors aside from that realization that led to my leaving, but those don't exactly make for a feel-good kind of story, so I'll leave out the more dreary details.

In Portland, I felt that I had finally found a good place for me to be and grow in this next phase of my life, in between finishing my degree and finding new direction for a career path. I had my dear "wifey," Chandra, easily accessible within a few miles of home, and I was surrounded by many other loving, wonderful people. As I became intermingled with Chandra's circle of friends, I discovered even more people to cherish and the most meaningful way that this came to be was through a bible study that Chandra and her good friend, Selena (who I also knew through Chan, but had always wanted to become closer with), started not long after I came to the area.

At one of the first times we met for the study, I met Selena's best friend (and technically cousin, by marriage), Lisa, who was immediately interested in my marital status with her little brother, "Jay", in mind! I figured if this guy was anything like Lisa -- so fun, joyful, and sweet, that he would be worth meeting! But after learning that he had been relocated to Hawaii for work, I didn't know if that would even happen, much less that any actual dating would be plausible. 

But at the efforts of Lisa and Selena, who were bound and determined to set us up, Jason and I did meet only about a couple weeks after we had heard so much about each other (and the necessity of us going on a date) from the two. Well as it turned out, the pair made themselves out to be quite the matchmakers, as Jay and I were immediately, well, matched! At the risk of making my story sound even more like a Danielle Steel novel... let's just say we've successfully made believers out of some in the much-fabled ideal of "love at first sight." (I know, I know... feel free to let out a good, "Awwww....!" even if you're being sarcastic. I won't be offended)

Even with a distance of 2,600 miles between us, we were insistent on being "together" from that point on. In between weekends of flying out to Portland were boxes of "treats" sent in the mail to tide us over, surprise flower deliveries to my door (how lucky am I?!) and countless hours on the phone. (I'll even admit, I bought him a webcam for the ultimate in geeked-out communication... it's funny what you'll do for a long-distance love). 

After some time, however, it became apparent that we might not be able to tolerate the separation in good spirits (getting stared at by travelers in PDX while I bawled uncontrollably each time I had to leave Jay at the gate began to get a little old...) and we started brainstorming. I have yet to finish my bachelors -- University of Hawaii has a psych program... the wheels kept turning. So we thought maybe after his next transfer (to a different construction job, same company) which would likely be on the island, we would aim for a move.

But, as they will sometimes do, things got sped up a bit. My job was becoming increasingly miserable due to unkept promises of security and compensation, as well as being bullied into working 11/12 (or more) hour days. What it essentially came down to was that I had been roped into a lease in an apartment that I would no longer be able to afford, and it was highly unlikely that I was going to find work to replace the job I had, especially in the area where I could afford boarding for the horse. Living in paradise, albeit a good deal sooner than expected, started to look like a pretty appealing alternative, needless to say.

After nearly losing that job, there then came the straw that broke the car's (-- I mean, camel's?) back... my (intermittently) trusty Civic got plowed into oblivion one afternoon, and by the grace of God, no one was hurt (not even the driver who got about a thousand pieces of shattered windshield flying at her head). The man who rear-ended me was going at least 30 mph, as estimated by the police -- more than enough to ruin the tin can of a Civ. As I watched the old thing towed away, along with about 8 years' worth of pseudo-fond memories crunched and scrunched inside, I gave him a pat and realized at the same time that I knew I would never again stare out those purple-tinted windows, that I was possibly looking at my ticket out...

I was right. Yet again by God's goodness, we were incredibly blessed by the accident and it was the best thing that could have happened to us. We got way more money from insurance than we would have trying to sell the thing in this economy, not to mention the work that would have needed to be put into it (the car actually was having trouble starting, which began a few weeks beforehand). Because it would have been quite difficult to buy another car with that money, for only a few months, then turn around and try to sell it, we knew we were looking at needing to arrange the move -- fast. I wouldn't be able to work for much longer without transportation (not to mention the daily headache of the job itself). 

My 1,200-pound bit of precious cargo, as it were, was obviously the biggest hurdle. But miraculously, even that was a smooth transition! We made arrangements for the horse to be shipped out on a barge out of Oakland to Honolulu. Everything about her move, from the transportation to Cali, to the ship, to her island home on the ranch here was nothing short of a gift from God. I truly cannot believe how blessed I am to be able to have her. It means the world to me. 

Less than 3 weeks after the accident, I had a one-way ticket in hand to Honolulu. I hadn't been on a plane in about six years, so it was that much more of an exciting experience for me. I felt the way comedian Louis CK describes we ought to appreciate the miracle of human flight in this clip from his appearance on Conan. It was slightly embarrassing the way that I could not help but grin, giggle, and gasp uncontrollably on the flight. I took literally dozens of pictures before even setting foot on the island!
Even while still thousands of miles away for that matter! 

I just couldn't believe how quickly we were SO high up in the sky... and then about a minute later looking down at the Washington coast, when I realized that was the last time I would actually be able to look down and see anything awesome for about 5 1/2 hours.

But I was wrong, you look down and see CLOUDS.....
beneath you!! 

Needless to say, I was entertained, what with the cloud viewing, and the free juice and treats, plus the little Hawaiian channel on the TV that showed all the cool things people can do when they visit the islands. All I could think about was how I wouldn't have to hurry up and see all of those things and plan my days so that I wouldn't miss out on anything, because I didn't even have a ticket back to the mainland. I didn't even know the next time I'd be coming back. That was kind of a hard-hitting realization, but it didn't really freak me out. Throughout the whole experience I've felt nothing but peace (and excitement, of course) about this move. And then, I saw it.
My island!
Looking down at all that turquoise water, I just wanted to jump right in!!

Then -- thunk!

--we touched down and all I wanted to do was RUN off the plane to find Jay. 
So, I scurried off and jumped onto a little shuttle bus to take me to the baggage claim (which was easier said than done... airports confuse me, a lot). But, I found him! Lei in hand... (sweet, huh?!) I hadn't seen him in 3 1/2 weeks and immediately tackled him.

We jumped in the car (which literally took my breath away when I realized that was what I was going to be driving... forgive me for bragging a bit here, but it's a freaking BMW! If you ever met the Civ, then maybe you can understand the stark contrast between the two. Just trying to give an idea of the shock I was in...) and were off for a day at the beach!

I was very happy with my lei. :)
I don't think I have ever smiled so much as we drove through the island... There were palm trees and beautiful things everywhere...where I now LIVED! We stopped at a lookout (not sure exactly where this was) where I got my first real glimpse of the incredible scenery you can find here.

We then stopped for some ice and a bite to eat from a 7-11, where they have crazy Hawaiian food instead of hot dogs and burritos. 

looked like a little bread roll, but inside was tasty (strangely colored) pork! It's called a "manapua." We were going to have spam sushi, but Jay already had eaten some earlier that day (haha!). 
And then, I saw my very first beach!

It was like a fantasy. I literally could not believe my eyes, it felt so surreal, the beauty of it all.

We had our little cooler of Maui-brewed beers, beach bags and towels, and set up camp. Just being able to lay there actually physically next to him is heaven enough (when you're in
that long-of-a-distance-relationship as we were, you come to really appreciate such things), but there on that warm, sunny beach, on an island that we wouldn't have to leave, that people come all over the world just to visit, was indescribable. I kept thinking about how I suddenly didn't have anything on my little countdown-calendar to look forward to. This was it! I was done waiting. 

After a good swim (I'd forgotten that the ocean doesn't necessarily have to induce numbing pain to your limbs... I still love you, Oregon coast), we were off for our next adventure -- a local restaurant off the side of the highway up to the North shore. 

We were accompanied by various animal friends! A parrot, bunny, and chicken, right at our table! (There are wild chickens absolutely everywhere on the island.) We ate shrimp sandwiches (I later learned that there are TONS of shrimp farms around the Kahuku area and the little sea treats are not in short supply... You know how there are all those little Mexican taco trucks on the sides of roads in the Northwest? Well here, there are shrimp trucks, and they are everywhere. I was immediately reminded of "Bubba," of Forrest Gump fame, and all the ways he described how you could enjoy them... and began to get really excited that I was in shrimp paradise!), and we even had a fresh coconut for dessert! How Hawaii is that?!

We stopped to visit the ranch where Novalee would be coming to later that week, and boy was I blown away. I'll have pictures and stories about the new horse home in my next post. 

As it was getting close to sunset, we hurried home to watch it from the back porch, or lanai, as it's called here, and I couldn't believe how lucky we were to have such a good view! You can see the entire horizon of the ocean, and waves crashing near the beach. It is incredible. I looked out over the sea and tried to wrap my mind around what was in front of me. An answered prayer, a dream come true, an entirely new day to come. I slept so peacefully that night.




  2. Emily I wanna see a pic of the BMW! It is yours or do you share it with your boyfriend?

  3. You are living a fairy tale and you deserve it :) I love you Em! Can't wait for a time when I can afford to visit and meet your man :)