The Interim: Hilo, Hawaii

This is my first time writing since I arrived “home” in Hilo, Hawaii.

This is the part of travel that many travel writers don’t discuss— the end, the interim between one dream chasing mission and another, the period of stasis interrupting adventures.

I personally do not deal with this period of time very well.
As a person who loves travel, trying new things, hearing many languages, meeting new people, and learning about architecture, art, history, and other cultures, living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is far, far less than ideal.

The place that I come from may appear to people passing through as a beautiful, small sea side town— but appearances come with a price. A fraction of the reality is this:

It has a terrible education system, a sky-high crime rate (for such a small place), is lacking in opportunities of any kind (good luck finding a good job or starting a career), has absolutely nothing to do, is “cheap” but still has a disproportionate cost of living, and is constantly hailed as a great place to live with literally no evidence of such a thing being true. So when you tell people that it is not the right place for you, they insist that maybe you are not trying hard enough to be happy or need to just “think more positively”.

That being said, I can honestly say that the threat of lava, hurricanes, and tsunamis is the least stressful thing about living here.

There is always a reality behind every place that you visit. There are always people living their every day lives there— working their jobs, tending to their families, and just trying to stay afloat. I think that many tourists tend to overlook this. There is no such thing as paradise.

One of the only things I appreciate about this place is that it taught me so much about how necessary it is to grow, how much I actually love my family (I never, ever would have come back if I didn’t), and how to conduct myself as a person in the world (mainly through examples of how NOT to be, as seen through locals and tourists here).

So here is to the travelers whose flight feathers have been temporarily plucked, those who need time to regrow their wings or refill their wallets.

I’m there with you.


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Maui, Hawaii: Returning “Home”

Home means a lot of different things to different people.
We all come from somewhere that in our heart of hearts is the source of our origin, whether that be where we were born, raised, or took that deep sigh and thought “this is it, this is where I belong”.

I find a little bit of home everywhere, in areas scattered across the globe.
I was born on the island of Maui, in Hawaii.
I was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii (otherwise known as Hawaii Island).
I found myself at home in the hillsides of Ireland, in a small beach town in Italy, and again in a little village in Germany.

And of course, I leave a little sliver of my heart in every place that I visit— a bit more in some places than others.

It seems fitting that after months of seeing new places and leaving bits of my heart behind, I would find myself returning to the place that I was born. To many people, the place that I come from is paradise— white sand beaches, palm trees, exotic flowers, and kind people, on a land secluded from the rest of the world. On some level, it is comprised of these things, and does hold a magic that you cannot find anywhere else in the world, but as is always the case, there is far more to a place than what you may see on post cards and television shows. There is a reality that escapes the attention of most people, even those who find themselves here.

Over the next few weeks I will give a deeper look into Hawaii as it really is. For now, I am sitting on a lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean , watching palm trees sway in the breeze, hearing the waves crash, and smelling the sweet scent of a plumeria tree in the near distance. For the first time in a long time, I am feeling just a little of the magic that I haven’t felt in so long. I want to thank all of the people that I met on my travels that made me see the magic of their own lives, and made me realize that maybe I have some of that magic to share as well.


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When I left my life behind, I knew that some part of me was doing it in the hopes of finding something. I wasn’t just running away, I was running towards something— though at the time I couldn’t have told you what it was. I just knew that it was “out there”.

For most of my life, I felt that I did not belong, a feeling accompanied by a hollowness and a sense of longing that I could never quite understand. There was some connection I longed to make with the world around me, some search for meaning that had to be undertaken, and I became convinced that I had to leave my life behind to find it.

When I began my travels alone, I felt outside of things, completely separate from the world around me. I doubted myself, and reasoned that maybe I was searching for something that did not exist— that place where I belonged and happiness didn’t feel like such a struggle.

Then my search took me to a place called Bella Vita, a Bed and Breakfast near the Italian seaside. Through Work Away, I worked there as a volunteer, and in return I was given food, a place to sleep, and the opportunity to meet dozens of new people, while sharing the beautiful sunshine and sights with those passing through. I planned to stay for two weeks and then make my way into the unknown to continue my search.

It is difficult to put into words how the next five weeks at Bella Vita changed me. I unpacked my bags and my expectations and just began living a new life. I worked in the mornings, lounged in the afternoons, and enjoyed home cooked meals and the company of pleasant strangers in the evenings.

I learned how quickly strangers can become friends, and how easily my heart can break when they go away.

I learned that honest work, friends, sunshine, delicious food, and the sea really can bring the greatest happiness.

I learned not to hold too tightly to any schedule because life has a plan and 9/10 times it’s going to overrule yours.

I learned that there will always be moments when I feel the emptiness.

Most importantly, I learned that what I had been looking for was “home”, and it could never be found just in a place or a person.

I felt it a dozen times while I was at Bella Vita—

At dinner while watching the sunset with a new but dear friend.

Looking out over the sea and enjoying the silence with a companion.

Walking alone and encountering flowers and trees I had never seen before.

Driving on the crazy Italian mountain roads with the sunshine and wind in my hair while listening to music on the radio.

Eating gelato so good I was surprised every time I reached the bottom of the cone.

Laughing with a friend over my poor knife cutting skills while trying to prepare a meal together.

Using homemade Italian language flash cards at a public dinner with my coworkers and listening in to the many conversations around us with smiles on our faces and food in our bellies.

Drinking cups of Earl Grey tea in the late afternoons with a friend and enjoying the dying light outside the window.

Taking a nap with the neighborhood canine companion in the middle of a warm, sunny afternoon.

It was moments like these when I felt like I had found what I’d been searching for, and I had to accept that they were only moments. Moments with amazing people, in breath-taking places, and moments that I had to let go to truly enjoy. If I tried to hold too tightly to them, they began to only make me sad because they were over. So in this way I learned that it really is living life in the moment and accepting the end of things that allowed me to find what I had been looking for.

After many conversations, sunsets, shell hunting expeditions, delicious dinners, laughs, goodbyes, and minor heartbreaks, it was time for me to leave Italy. Getting on the train and saying farewell to two people so close to my heart felt like a betrayal to myself and my happiness. But I got on the train and waved so long, and allowed it all to become  a beautiful memory.

No matter what other adventures I may have, I will never forget my time at Bella Vita— so aptly named “Beautiful Life”— because it was here that I came to accept how beautiful life really can be.

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