A beautiful sunrise in Hawaii Kai
On August 31st, I say goodbye to residency in Hawaii for good (but I FLY BACK FOR WEDDINGS!). It’s a bittersweet thing, but I’ve done so much, SO MUCH, on this island. I’ve been here for ten freakin years! How many people can say they’ve spent a decade on a remote island in the middle of the ocean?? So I’ve been here since I was 19 and the amount of things I’ve done is insane. INSANE. I’ll be writing a blog on that soon enough, but let’s focus on what lessons I’ll be taking away from this gorgeous island in the middle of the pacific!
1. Racism still exists.
Now, I know a lot of people will be pissed that this is the first thing I share, implying that it’s the most important lesson I’m taking away with me. However, as a white person, I feel like this experience is vital for me to empathize with others that have dealt with racism their whole lives. Believe it or not, this island is filled with locals that loathe “the white man.” This is not condescending to their hatred, this is literally a term I have heard personally, including from my current roommates. In Hawaii, they have the term “Haole” which actually means “Foreigner” but has somehow become a racial slur against white people. It isn’t uncommon to become embroiled in a dispute and be called a “fucking Haole.” I once saw a (white) man become irate in the movie theatres because he had some preconceived notion about how many times he should move for people to pass him. He muttered angrily to a (local) couple trying to shuffle past him to some chairs and when the woman whispered, “what did he say?” her boyfriend said, “nothing, just some Haole bullshit.”
To me, racism should be illegal. I believe everyone is equal and this is obvious if you know me or even just take a look at my portfolio, you would see I practically specialize in bi-racial couples and LGBT couples. It makes me sad to see people so incredibly stuck on the mere color of skin. Being in Hawaii, belittled at times simply because of how I was born, has taught me to enter cultures with a more open mind.
2. Traffic should never be underestimated.
Did you know that Hawaii has one of the worst traffic situations in the nation? #truestory There was recently a day where it took eight-ten hours for some people to get home, merely because one lane on one highway was shut down. I personally knew a person who just had to get a hotel in Waikiki, because her bus just never arrived. Check out Trafficocolypse here
I was lucky enough to not have to be anywhere, but I have rescheduled meetings if there is an accident. It just isn’t worth leaving the house. It’s definitely become worse in the past year and a half, thanks to this ridiculous rail project they’ve begun. I cannot wait to move to Texas, where the lanes and highways are wide! GIVE ME SOME WIDE OPEN SPACE!
One of my favorite locations in Hawaii
3. Rainbows are ALWAYS lucky.
It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, when I see a rainbow, I stop and feel lucky. I always think they’re a sign of good things to come and so even on bad days, they make me smile. The good thing is that Hawaii is pretty full of these gorgeous shiny colorful creations! It’s also a huge reason I judge photographers for photoshopping them into photographs. How cliche and cheater cheater can you be?
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4. Asian Food is AMAZING!
When I first came to Hawaii, I didn’t even know how to use chopsticks. I remember making a bowl of cheap ramen in my barracks room, stumbling through my way, my thumb incapable of taking simple directions. Now? I can expertly pick up single grains of rice, grab a lump of noodles, and shove sushi into my mouth without dropping it. Speaking of noodles, Udon is so damn amazing. Give me chicken katsu, ramen, sushi, pho, LOCO MOCOS. Hawaii is actually limited on delicious diverse restaurants (we’re budding!) but I have a half dozen Udon restaurants I can suggest!
Lanikai at Sunrise.
5. Paradise has a price.
“You’re so lucky for living in paradise!” Man, I’ve heard this for the past 10 years and I always cringe. When I announced I wanted to live in Texas, I’ve had multiple people tell me how much I’ll hate it. But let’s be real: mountains and beaches are amazing, but being able to afford a god damn place on my own is priceless. I once paid $1475 for a termite-infested, rotting studio in a part of town where I heard gun shots regularly. My landlords were meth heads, I didn’t have counter space in my kitchen and the neighbors kept me awake. Last year, I lived in a tiny cottage, split $1590 rent (no utilities included) and our landlord was a sexist scumbag, dogs barked next door 24/7 and again, no kitchen counter space.
Am I making myself a little more clear why “flat landscapes” is totally fine with me? Because you need to be making a minimum of $50,000 a year to just SURVIVE in Hawaii. Most people need two jobs and most local families have 2-3 generations in a household to afford the mortgage/rent. p.s. I just paid $4 for a quart of milk.
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6. Fun is free.
Seriously, if you just invest $800 in a paddle board or kayak the moment you move here, your investment will come back tenfold. When I first arrived, I became diver certified and I have seen parts of Hawaii that you couldn’t see otherwise. I’ve been in shipwrecks, inches from sharks, seen some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. I DID get a paddle board finally but then moved to a place where it wouldn’t fit. So that’s lame. However, Hawaii provides cheap ass entertainment, with hundreds of small beaches, live music, festivals (we do Halloween like NO ONE ELSE) and even movies on the beach. Hawaii is pretty awesome for entertainment. Except big name performers…they don’t come here.
That’s a turtle hanging out with a white tip shark behind me!
Hawaii is a wonderful place, don’t get me wrong. It’s gorgeous, scenic and you cannot find a place that smells better when you get off the plane. I’m going to miss the fuck out of this place, because Texas definitely won’t have good Udon or Sushi. Whether you’re coming to visit or to live, Hawaii has some amazing activities, adventures, and opportunities. I am so grateful for being here and having the right to brag about everything I’ve done here.