It’s really interesting to think about how culture impacts the human race. From childhood, the people you are surrounded by and the place you live shapes your experience and your habits.
I’m from Texas. We like our tea sweet, our food fried, and we pride ourselves in southern hospitality. I was taught to say yes ma’am, no sir, and have manners. Not saying this isn’t true of other states or is true of everyone from Texas… I am more conservative, I believe in second amendment rights, and I love camping or floating the river.
Texas is a huuuugeee state. If you go on a road trip (especially if you live in south Texas) you will spend the first day trying to get out of Texas. Now I live on an island that is smaller than the size of Houston. That transition for me was rough and it still is. There are things that I miss, conveniences that I took for granted living on the mainland. But there are also some really special things about living on Oahu.
The things I miss are endless. I miss the food, the sweet tea, Chick-Fil-A and Cracker Barrel, being able to find a parking space, looking out into the endless grassy fields that are everywhere at home, and I miss the weather – super hot in the summer and a little cold in the winter. I miss the Texas spirit, the southern way of living, and the cost of living (the apartment we live in is worth a decked out two story house in my home state). I really miss thunderstorms and the intensity of the rainfall. I miss family most of all. It’s really difficult to raise babies without the help of family, particularly Dalton and Ellie’s grandmas. It would also be really nice to not have to buy a plane ticket to go home or to travel.
The things I love about Hawaii haven’t come as easy to me as I thought. When we first moved here it was the most exciting adventure for Taylor and I, and it still is to a certain extent. But we aren’t beach people, the sandy mess that comes from one trip really sets off my obsessive compulsive tendencies. We also decided to live off base and have quickly come to realize that we really want a house (but here we couldn’t afford one). I miss air conditioning and I really want a dishwasher, a driveway, a backyard, and more than a 900 square foot space to live in.
The things I do love… The sushi, our amazing church family, the sunsets, the views, sometimes the beach, it’s always shorts weather, and it’s always sunny. It really is amazing to be immersed in a culture that is so different than my own. Here they take life slowly, they care more for the environment, they love fish and rice, and they really value family. There are a lot of great hikes (we aren’t hikers). You get to see clear water with beautiful fish, massive sea turtles you can swim with, you can go to luaus and meet some really amazing people. There are some things I have done here that I won’t be able to do anywhere else.
To be honest, I have spent way too much of my time being pessimistic about the time we have left on the island. I still have my days where I can only focus on moving back to the mainland, we have spent two years and two months here. I am ready for a change of pace, to live in a place that may not be home but it is more similar to it. But I am really thankful for this experience and I want to soak it up as much as I possibly can. Here in Hawaii, Taylor and I have learned to live by ourselves and have learned to lean on one another for support; our marriage is really strong because we only have one another (and Dalton/almost Ellie, but I’m talking about adult relationships). The support we do have comes from our brothers and sisters in Christ that will make it hard to leave when it’s time. If we didn’t have kids and if I didn’t spend 18 months of my life here pregnant I know I would have been able to experience more which would probably result in more thankfulness (but I wouldn’t have it any other way). I know I will miss the beaches, maybe not the sand but definitely the crystal clear water. Overall, it has been the best experience to live in such a culturally rich place as our first duty station. Yes it is different, but now we can take this experience and learn to find positivity in the nature of our surroundings that will change every few years.
But Texas will always be home. I will always carry a sliver of homesickness when I’m away and it serves a purpose, to remind me of just how grateful I am to have grown up in such an incredible place.