Two Years

IMG_2228Two years ago yesterday Brett, our three daughters and I arrived on Kaua’i to start a new chapter in our lives.

Two years ago our daughters did hold back and let us know again and again how angry and miserable they felt about our move. They left behind everything they knew, including life-long friends, boyfriends – everything – to come live on an isolated little island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They were profoundly unhappy with us, but Brett and I did our best to reassure them. “Give it time,” we said, “and then see how you feel.” We explained over and over that it had been time for us to make our move.

Last week, at dinner, as we were talking about some topic I don’t remember now, WenYu said, “I hope some day I can raise my children in a place like Kaua’i.” She went on to say how much she has grown to love our little island, its calmness, beauty, and friendly people. She said that moving here had been the best thing that happened to her. She still greatly missed her Portland friends, but coming here pushed her out of her shell and challenged her to take chances both academically and socially that she would not have taken back in Portland. She said she didn’t think she would be going to Wellesley College if we had stayed in Portland.

YaYu has blossomed here as well. She has made many friends, is doing very well academically, and is also taking chances that she doubts she would have taken back in Portland. Brett and I believe the move was harder in many ways for her than for her sisters, but YaYu now says she too is thankful for the calm and beauty of Kaua’i, and is glad we moved here. She has relied heavily on WenYu these past two years for company and support, but says she is ready to step out from her sister’s shadow and spread her own wings.

Meiling has built a solid independent life for herself back in Oregon, and is doing better than either Brett or I ever expected or hoped for. She did not want to stay on Kaua’i, and it was with great sadness and misgiving that we let her return to the mainland. She has told us though that she doubts she would have become as strong and independent if we were still in Portland, where she could have (and would have) called us to “come fix it” if things were not going well. We talk and text with her frequently every week, and offer advice when it’s asked for, but are so very proud of our daughter these days and the independent path she has chosen.

It has been a good move for all of us. Brett and I are more relaxed and far less stressed than we were back on the mainland. We worry less, hustle less, and let things happen as they will. We’ve made friends here, and are recognized more frequently as kamaaina, residents versus tourists. I absolutely love being called “Auntie.” With a couple of exceptions, we moved just the right amount of stuff along with us, and every day we appreciate our simple life more and more. We’ve figured out where and how to shop here, to find the best bargains, and we focus more on need versus want. We still get to travel. To know that the girls are now happy too about our move to Kaua’i is just the icing on the cake for us. While there is still lots for us to learn about our new home, we have a wonderful life here, and we are content. Our son has sometimes hinted that he wished we had moved to Oahu because of the medical facilities there, but both Brett and I are so glad we decided to settle on peaceful and less congested Kaua’i. It’s a great fit for us.

I’ve read that two years in Hawai’i marks a turning point (believe it or not, most new residents don’t last a year). If you can make it here for that long, then it’s said you’ve truly adjusted to the island way of life and will most likely stay forever, or at least for a very long time.

I know we’ve crossed that threshold. Kaua’i is home, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

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10 thoughts on “Two Years

  1. Jen says:

    I am so glad it worked out so well for all of you. I remember being a little bit worried for you when you were thinking about moving and then preparing for it. It seems to have worked out great!

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    • Laura says:

      It’s turned out to be a very good move for all of us, better than we hoped for. Brett and I were honestly nervous about the move, but came with few expectations and decided to let things unfold. We told ourselves though that we would at a minimum stay for four years, no matter what, to let YaYu finish high school.

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    • Laura says:

      We are too, and happy that they can acknowledge and articulate it as well. WenYu has the experience to compare her school here and the one back in Portland, and says she likes the school here so much better, while this is YaYu’s only HS experience, so she’s a bit more jaded, as you might expect. After being in Honolulu for a few days, both girls said they are glad they don’t have to drive there!

      We love it here!

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  2. JJ says:

    Wow, time sure is flying. It doesn’t seem like it’s been two years already! Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I agree with Denise that it is very inspiring. Regarding your son being concerned about the medical facilities, Oahu is only a half hour plane ride away, and you would only need to go there in a major emergency, right? I’m assuming Kauai has hospitals that can deal with ‘normal’ medical issues.

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    • Laura says:

      Health care on Kaua’i is more than adequate for our needs now; I think our son is more worried about what we’ll need in another 10-20 years. We have access to the huge Trippler Medical Center (Army) on Oahu though if we need it, and in some cases the military will pay to get us there if needed. Locals and long-time residents though say that medical services on Kaua’i keep expanding and are offering more and better options all the time. So far we have absolutely no complaints!

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    • Laura says:

      For both girls, it helped A LOT that they had each other to lean on at first. Then, getting themselves involved with sports started to change their attitudes about our move here and their new school. They met people through their teams and made friends quickly (the girls both say kids here are friendlier than back in Portland). They have also come to appreciate how much less materialistic kids are here, which has made a big difference in their attitude as well. They’ve also had very supportive teachers and counselors. Their HS here is very small compared to their school back in Portland – there they were little fish in a big pond. Here, their academic and athletic achievements shine, and I think that’s the biggest reason they feel now that the move has been a good one for them.

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