You know you live in the right place when you don’t want to leave.
That’s what I told myself as I slowed my pace while walking to my boarding gate at Honolulu airport. I stopped on the walkway overlooking the courtyard below and inhaled the smell of the plumeria. I took in the colors of the trees and the sound of the wind before I shut myself into the enclosed boarding area. I didn’t want to go to California.
I was heading to a writing conference at USC, my alma mater. I was going to a place I love, doing what I love, and I didn’t want to leave the place I have come to love more – Hawaii.
Before I moved here, people told me the ‘aina (land) would either take me in or spit me out. I worried, especially after my bumpy arrival here. Hawaii isn’t like anywhere else I’d been. I needed to adjust.
So I did.
I learned to slow down, to listen to the land, the weather, the animals, the people.
I think of the mountains and how they slope into valleys and stretch out to sea. It’s like relaxing in a comfy lounge chair. I settle into the slope and breathe in the green around me, then gaze into the blue stretched out before me. Living here is soothing.
There are three places I feel connected to on this planet: one calls me back to its magic every few years; the second grips me and tells me I can’t leave because I have roots there and need to explore them: the third, O’ahu, welcomes me to the space it has made for me, and invites me to rest and take in its beauty.
Upon my return, I exited the airport and sat in traffic overlooking the industrial part of town. Even there, I felt the land welcome me home.