I moved to Oahu a few months before my 21st birthday. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago, but as I look back through old photos before I pack them away, I can remember discovering Honolulu through my 21-year-old eyes.
Coming from Maui and having had a brief taste of living in New York, I was restless and wanted to do and see more, more, more. I was ready for new adventure. So Honolulu was my compromise – the “big city” nightlife and culture, better job opportunities, but still close enough to my family on Maui.
In my 20s, I was fortunate enough to find myself surrounded by an amazing group of friends. Back then, we traveled in packs, created “theme nights” to celebrate birthdays, raised thousands of dollars for charity, ran marathons and traveled across oceans together in search of adventure.
In our 20s, we pursued careers – doctor, lawyer, architect, therapist, accountant, professor, nurse, artist, teacher – with the same passion we went after boys. We took shots, we took chances, we took many, many group photos. I’ve been so proud that I’ve cried during a handful of graduations, including (eventually, and a bit surprisingly) my own.
Along the way, I’ve also rekindled friendships from my childhood, some going back as far as Pukalani Elementary. We simply picked up wherever we’d left off, and I realized that there’s something to be said about a relationship where the other person knows every single part of your history. There’s no need to tell stories of childhood or growing up, because they were there.
It was these friends who were with me through the not-so-happy times. We comforted each other through sadness, frustration, loss – smiling through the tears of breakups, arguments, even death. During the times when I felt like I had no fight left, they were the ones who showed up, sat with me and who allowed me to just be me. I’m forever, forever grateful.
I’ve watched as many of my friends turned into wives and then mothers. I’ve cried tears of joy at each engagement, wedding, and birth announcement, knowing that these strong women have found someone who appreciates just how unique and special they are. Who, like me, would treasure them. Trusting that they are now in good hands.
As for me, while I haven’t yet found that romantic love or a life partner, I don’t have regrets. I’ve lived my life the way that felt right to me, every step of the way. I did my fair share of staying up all night, sleeping in til noon, I found (and left) a variety of careers, relationships and passions. Of course, I also ate my way through Honolulu and around the world.
All of it has led me to the person I am today. I feel very, very lucky looking back on the time that I’ve spent here.
Now 13 years later, as I prepare to leave, there are a few things that I’ve always wanted to do, yet have never gotten around to. Unfinished business is not my style, so here you go… (drum roll, please!)
Malia’s Honolulu Bucket List
Around the whole island by bus
Watch the sunset at Kaena point
Makapuu lighthouse trail for sunrise
Kyung’s Seafood’s sashimi platter
Morning Glass’s Mac n Cheese pancake
Ono Hawaiian Foods
Izakaya Torae Torae
Sunday Supper at 12th Ave Grill
Liliha Bakery waffle, extra crispy
Picnic lunch on Iolani Palace lawn
Yajima-ya’s mushroom chicken
Yes, a lot of it is food. I’m sure you’re shocked. 😉
Looking forward to my last few weeks of Honolulu adventures as well as what’s in store for the year ahead!