Infidelities: or Things I Miss About the Big Island

We've been on Kauai for almost 3 months now. The first three months someplace are usually the hardest-- no friends, no routines-- unfamiliar roads and disorienting landscape, not to mention a mountain of unpacked boxes. But not this time.
This time, I think I'm in love. Everywhere I go-- out to the dry and stunning Waimea Canyon or to rainy and dreamlike Hanalei Valley-- I'm awed. Even riding my bike every day on our little muddy road and through the pastures I sigh and giggle. It's just all so beautiful!
And the food! There is good food in every nook and cranny, in every little lean-to town--the ramshackle little place serving steaming bowls of rich brothy Pho with spicy basil and cool lemon grass on mismatched tables and wobbly chairs, or the cafe with the ugly ripped booths and flourescent lights serving buttery apple turnovers crusted with sugar. And my favorite, genki sushi-- where the sushi comes around on a conveyer belt and you can pluck it off like gleaming little fishy fruits from a tree.
So I'm smitten with Kauai. It's easy to live here: the beach is close, I can walk to the grocery store, folks are friendly. And all of this has me feeling... like a traitor. Almost three long years I hammered away at the Big Island-- I lived in mist and rain for one cold year, and on a lonely windy horse ranch, and, then on a little farm in Hawaiian Homes. I worked hard at living there.
So what I really need to say is,
Sorry Big Island, I loved you too, I really did. It's just that it was so hard to love you! You were beautiful, in your own unique way, with the wide open plains and scrubby forests, and the fearsome power of the active volcano. And your beaches were beautiful in their own harsh, geologically young way, with the heaps of black rocks and the course little strips of sand between the thorny kiawe trees. You were a challenge-- a closed book. You confronted my fears and expectations at every turn-- you rubbed me raw. You were alive with ghosts and heavy with walking gods and goddesses-- sometimes marching. Kauai is like a sleeping goddess-- she is humming to herself, rocking in her hammock. Not raging like you, Big Island.
So for your sake, here's what I miss about the Big Island.
The eerie emptiness on the plains of Mauna Kea
The Hawaiinness of everything-- the puu, the waa, the living presence of Madame Pele.
The nice libraries who didn't hiss and shush at me and kick my baby out of the library
The Wana crackling and shedding spikes on the black rocks at the beach
The surprising petroglyphs hidden in plain sight
Everything that made you difficult also made you beautiful. I struggled to find the beaches, to break through the barriers and make connections. But each labor made the reward sweeter.
So, thank you Big Island. You are beautiful and difficult. Kauai is easier, but I miss you.


  1. I can't believe you've been in Hawaii that long. Your descriptions still make me jealous. But someday I really will come...

  2. I stumbled upon your blog through my love of Kauai, and, as an English teacher, I must say that your writing is splendid. You should submit this to "Kauai Backstory" (, an online publication of writings on Kauai. I loved reading this!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fresh Grief: How to Help When People are Grieving

Malihini 101

The First Year of Suicide Grief: Some Advice for Pain