Four years ago to the day my life was about to change in ways I never imagined.
I boarded the plane in Baltimore, had a six hour delay in Chicago, and at 11ish PM Friday, July 13, 2012, I set foot in Honolulu for the first time in 23 years.
When I was eight years old my family spent our summer vacation here for just shy of two weeks, I think. We landed in Honolulu, spent the night here, then flew to Maui the next day for a few days, then to the Big Island for a few days, then back to Oahu for the last few days before heading back East.
I have a handful of solid memories but mostly just impressions from that trip:
Marveling at the lava flow on Big Island.
Running around a golf course at midnight on Maui and helping bullfrogs learn to fly.
Sparrows flying into the rooftop restaurant on Oahu.
Being afraid that the roof of any of the inter-island Aloha airline planes we rode would come off like it did a few months before.
Chewing sugarcane for the first time.
Watching my first Indiana Jones movie – The Last Crusade – at a drive-in movie theater.
Marveling at the hula ladies…
Even then I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something magical about this place.
Twenty-seven years later, after four years of living here I still can’t.
The Aloha Spirit.
The verdant landscape.
The very earth itself brimming with life and vitality.
There’s just something magical, mystical; old yet fresh about this place.
While I’m not a fan of the population density on Oahu, I always feel like I’m back home whenever I return from a trip somewhere else (with the exception of The Big Island – I always feel like I’m going back home whenever I visit there).
Four years ago today, I had no idea what I was getting myself into; what with my assignment at a joint command, my first duty station usually reserved for no lower than E-5s, maybe an E-4 soon to be promoted, yet there I was, an E-3.
And little did I know how much of the world I was about to see.
I thought boot camp and “A” School busted open my worldview…
Cumulatively six months in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
A month and some change in Europe and then a couple months on a couple glaciers.
I feel as though I’ve certainly aged, but I also feel as though I’ve gotten a little younger somehow…
Started making real-life grown-up decisions on my own, being as far away as one can be from friends and family before you start going back around.
Knowing what I know now there are some things I wouldn’t have done, but I don’t really regret anything. It all goes into that worldview I was talking about before.
I’ve learned not to grasp things too tightly for too long, so I’ve learned to cherish the present moments even more.
Entering the service and giving up many freedoms have helped me appreciate and value freedom even more; I feel more a free man than I ever have.
I met my wife and my kid was born here.
Where will I be in four more years? No clue.
Probably still around. Maybe about to head elsewhere; who knows?
Until then I just keep doing what I do everyday: take it one day at a time.