Thursday, September 27, 2012

Making it in Hilo

I've been thinking a lot about the trade-off people make when they move to a tropical island with little money. It is expensive to live in Hawaii, and the number one question we always got before we headed back over here was, "How are you going to live?" 
Once you cross the ocean, prices soar like the tops of the volcanoes! The normal living things like heating your water, keeping lights on in your home, fueling your car, paying your monthly rent, having a savings account, and buying a gallon of milk, become major financial issues when living in Hawaii. It is pricey, and each month we are finding that we are just breaking even to get by.
Furthermore, my husband is a public school teacher and I am a stay-at-home mom, and this is our agenda for the next million years, (or at least until our kids are old enough to fend for themselves.) Many people here have both parents working to make ends meet, but we feel very strongly against this for our family. It's just not an option for us, so instead of relying on a double income, we've relied on frugality, living simply, and the help of the Lord. So far, it has worked out beautifully, yet with a lot of hard work involved, too. We're not afraid to work hard for what we want, but lately we've both been feeling the need to rest; to settle down, to stop moving and wandering, to find permanence in our lives. We want to do this by buying a home.

One of the trade-offs of moving to a tropical island with little money is that you get paradise in return. You don't own fancy cars or nice houses, but instead you have turquoise water and white sand beaches. You get gorgeous, sunny days, and balmy breezes, while sipping on real coconut water from real coconuts, out on your lanai, in the house you pay triple the rent you paid  in Utah. In return you get perfect surf, long days at the beach, bonfires in the sand, and outdoor reggae concerts. You don't even notice you live in a crappy, run-down house and drive an old beater car, because you're too busy smelling the plumeria flowers, snorkeling tropical reefs, hiking up to pristine waterfalls, and watching the spinner dolphins leaping in the bay.
These are the things about Hawaii that I've always loved, and looked forward to when moving back here. These are the things I was willing to trade for, to sacrifice for, to give up all the material, superficial desires for. These are the things I wanted to have, along with a humble, simple, and meaningful life. It was a package deal, and one that I could imagine living forever.

So you can imagine that Micah and I are laughing now (a little sarcastically) because we've landed ourselves pretty permanently in Hilo. Oh, Hilo, Hilo, Hilo: Rainy, rocky, windy, cold, rugged Hilo!
This is Hawaii, and it's beautiful, but it's not the Hawaii I fell in love with. This place is another brand of Hawaii, and one that takes some serious adjusting to. No white sand beaches, no perfect surf, no turquoise water or long days at the beach. No bonfires in the sand or pristine waterfalls nearby, and definitely no spinner dolphins in the bay because the bay is polluted with dirty river water and I wouldn't want to spin in there, either. (sigh.)
We've been here for over a year now and it's been quite the adventure, if you can imagine! However, here we are. We have a job and a place to live, and callings to fullfill.
 My Grandma Lois used to always tell me,"Be happy wherever you are. I am happy when it rains, happy when it's sunny, and happy when it snows."  I always loved her optimistic attitude.

Okay, so you can't live your life for the weather, but what if it rains every single day, and you're so close to the ocean you can smell it, but you can't go in most of the time because it's cold and dreary, and this isn't why you moved back to Hawaii...... What then? What is the trade-off for living a humble, simple life in a place you can't really afford and don't completely love?

That is the question my husband and I have been throwing out  to the universe lately. We don't necessarily want or need the answers right now, because we're not moving, but it's been on our minds. It's funny where life takes us. It's funny where our choices lead us, and how we often don't know where we're heading next, but God knows. I know He's got some sort of crazy plan  concocting up there for our family. I'm a little anxious to see where this goes next.

Stay tuned for a follow-up-post titled: All the wonderful, beautiful, amazing, fanatastic, joyful things we love about Hilo, for reals.


arianne said...

I'd like to know if life ever gets to the point where it feels like it fits and you can relax and enjoy it. We've moved so many times it makes my head swim. So right now, I'm not worrying about how long we're staying where we are. (Because I know other things are coming.) I'm just focusing on today. I'm okay living in Utah today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Who knows where the tide will take us?

I'm curious about Hilo. Looking forward to your next post.

Da Denninghoff's said...

Oh Sally! I love your thoughts, just today I caught myself checking house prices in Hawaii and trying to figure out how we can make it work. Mark still has one more program to accomplish until then we can't even think about buying a house. Like 7 years from now. The thought seems so far away but until then I have to remind myself over and over and over times afinity to enjoy the journey and be content. I REALLY struggle with this. Like really bad and many other things. I'm excited to see what's in store for you all. I adore your family:)