It's not hard to sit back and fantasise about leaving for a tropical escape when the weather gets moody and work deadlines are overwhelming. But actually making the move? Well, it's a heck of a lot more difficult.
Somewhere along the way, this fantasy became my necessity. I needed a shift and a change in pace after a long, tough year of health issues. So after some soul-searching, I bought myself a one-way ticket, quit my job, and moved out of my apartment. I said goodbye, San Francisco — and ALOHA, Hawaii!
The first few days were a vacation with my sister and my partner on the island with me — we joined my sister's friends for nights out to dive bars and house parties, rang in the new year at a Gatsby-themed soiree, soaked up plenty of sun on the beach, and drank too many mai tais. We spent the night at a trendy hotel in Waikiki and spent too much money on expensive appetizers. I got my honorary first sunburn.
Vacation life, ya know?
Having my dear friends visit was such a blessing!
I was quick to discover island living is not always sunshine and coconuts. Once my friends left, I was alone back at the house with myself, my thoughts, and one very fuzzy golden retriever. I realised that with the bustle of Christmas festivities and hours spent packing my life into boxes for storage, I hadn't really been alone alone in a while. When the outdoor voices quieted, the weight of the past two months' worth of big moments and big decisions let themselves be felt in their entirety.
San Francisco was my home for two years. I had made best friends that became family; I loved my job and the people I worked with; I was dating someone I loved; I had an adorable bedroom with old hardwood floors and a bay window. But even though the outside looked so picturesque, on the inside, I was slowly recovering from my mental illness — a wrestle with chronic depression and generalised anxiety — and the hustle of city living wasn't helping.
I had turned to the island of Oahu for an escape, a hope for a fresh start somewhere among the turquoise waters and sugary sand.
The truth is, no matter where you are in the world, your feelings still follow. Your story still has its past. Insecurities still exist. The questions and the fears and the hurt are still there. I couldn't 100 percent expect my struggles, my heartache, and missing my dear friends, old coworkers, and yes, even the city disappear in a bubble of beach happiness. I couldn't find healing instantaneously.
During my first few weeks on the island, I quickly learned that while moving can never be completely running away, I don't think it should be. Hawaii, while a gorgeous spot to lose oneself in a beach vacation, became my sacred, quiet place for processing and restoration. I had to remind myself this wasn't vacation — this was real life, my life, and I chose it. It was a dream 10 years in the making, and it was here.
It took a few 10-hour nights of sleep, unpacked suitcases, and pictures hung on walls for a comfortable reality to set in. I wasn't alone — I was a phone call away from those I love, a few steps from a welcoming roommate, an hour's drive from the North Shore and another dear friend on it.
But most of all, I was here — with me, myself, and I.
So far, this new chapter has been all about taking a long, sandy stroll back to myself, and I'm OK with it. Let the adventure continue.