I first fell in love with Hawaii as a teenager, when I made my first trip to Oahu with my parents and sister. We stayed at one of the Outrigger hotels (knowing my dad, I’m sure it was the cheapest one!) near Waikiki Beach and did what many first-time visitors do: We swam in the ocean, people-watched on Kalakaua Avenue, snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, ate Dole Whip cones at the Dole pineapple plantation, marveled at the kamikaze surfers tackling the ginormous waves off the North Shore, scored free shell necklaces at Hilo Hattie, tried the free hula lesson at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, and watched the Friday evening fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
My parents didn’t seem overly impressed. My mom found Waikiki too crowded, and my dad — our rental-car driver — complained that all the street names were unpronounceable and looked alike to him. But for me, I had found my slice of heaven. Here was a place where it was summertime all year long, fragrant flowers grew everywhere like weeds, tropical fruit was the cheapest produce in the market, and the ocean was actually warm enough to swim in! I, the girl who grew up in San Jose, California and deemed it “too cold,” had found my balmy paradise.
And so my dream of one day moving to Hawaii began, and continued for the next 20 years. First I had some growing up to do back in California. I had college to finish, careers to try, boyfriends to date, and parents to become independent from.
Then in 2006, my friends Andrew and Masae invited me to their wedding on Kauai, where Andrew’s parents lived. I jumped at the opportunity to go back to Hawaii, and to experience a different island. Those four days I spent on Kauai revived my dormant dream, and I started to think more seriously about moving to Hawaii. I realized that I was now in a place in my life, financially and emotionally, where I could make this dream a reality if I truly wanted to.