On Hawai’i Time


More stories from Maggie Cipriano

On Hawai’i Time
December 3, 2018

This past weekend I celebrated my 21st birthday. My weekend was filled with beachy adventures, fancy dinners and an abundance of love and warmth from family and friends. I expected my birthday to be a wonderful time, of course, but I did not think about how hard it would be to spend my first birthday away from home.

Last year in Eau Claire for my twentieth birthday, the weather was dreary and absolutely freezing. However, I was still surrounded by friends and was heading home for Thanksgiving the next day.

Here in Hawai’i, I will be spending my Thanksgiving working (double time makes that worth it),  and after work I will be at a beach house with my Kiwi and Aussie friends on the famous North Shore.

I am hoping that the North Shore festivities lessen the blow of missing out on the incredible dinners that my family devours on the fourth Thursday of November.

As my time here continues, I am beginning to sense a theme: Everything is about change. I am learning how to handle change. The pros and cons list that compares Hawai’i and home is extensive.

Home has family, friends, familiarity and seasons. Hawaii has adventure, education, opportunity and a consistent joke among my friends: No seasons, which means no seasonal depression.

Those who know me know that every fall and winter I am stricken by a perpetual cold that lasts until the ground defrosts. Being in Hawai’i has given me the healthiest five months I have ever experienced. Five months without a runny nose or a lung-scrunching cough.

Hawai’i, however, offers a very rough terrain. The lava rock ground feels like walking on a million small, sharp Legos. The reef in the water feels like nails, only with jet black sea urchins awaiting to prick you. To be honest, for every sinus infection back home, I would rather scrape my shins on the reef here.

Change includes how to deal with homesickness when so much is happening at home. So many new puppies in the family, so many birthdays and Sunday night dinners at Grandma’s house. It was hard to not be able to blow out the candles of the annual birthday pumpkin pie at home. But here, the chocolate macadamia nut pie with a candle, surrounded by my buddies made the experience wonderful.

Change also includes spending birthdays on cliffs overlooking Honolulu. Behind me, the sky was dark purple, spotted with cotton candy pink clouds, silhouettes of palm trees blowing in the incoming winter winds. In front of me sat my best friends in a pod, fighting over bags of potato chips. Past them was the dark, wavy ocean, an island full of city lights and mountain tops all set in front of a fiery sunset.

For every instance I miss home, it is made up by a new experience here. It is a constant tug-of-war between reminiscing on my familiar, and exploring my future. It is not a matter of what matters more to me — everyone back home, or opportunity here — it is about growing as a person.

I cannot imagine who I would be if I was, say, still at school at Saint Louis University. Who I would be if I never moved to Hawai’i the first time. Well, I would have never ended up at UW- Eau Claire. And If I never went to UW-Eau Claire, I would never be where I am today.

Hawai’i has set me up with many challenges of missing home dearly — should I go home? That feeling of homesickness fuels my fire. It urges me to do something new, try something new everyday that I am here. Endless adventures.

Hawai’i has taught me to embrace the loss of familiarity. No more snowy Water Street, no more smell of home. I have my whole life to live in Wisconsin and Illinois, that time is not now.

I think about my time here, all that I have learned and experienced, how extremely thankful I am to have been given this opportunity. I am ready to fully begin my adventure in this new home.

Cipriano can be reached at [email protected].