Friday, October 6, 2017

Going to paradise.


A week or so before my mom died around New Year's, Dillon and I took the kids to see Moana at the movie theater. I had been told it would make me emotional, and it definitely came through on that front.

There were a few themes within the film that resonated with my situation at the time -- namely, being required by a higher power to do a very hard thing and somehow surviving it all. Plus, the loss of a family member (they portrayed Moana's grief of losing her grandmother so perfectly, by the way).

The timing of that movie's release was impeccable for me. I didn't realize how much I needed it at the time. I thought I was in for a mental break from the depressing reality of my mom's terminal illness, but in reality, seeing Moana caused me to delve even further into my emotions than anything else could. Art has that effect on people, you know. I still can't watch the baby Moana scene at the beginning of the movie without losing it, nor the end when she sings her song to Te Ka. Daaaang.

When Moana was released to Blu-ray a few months later, my then-2-year-old daughter Clara unsurprisingly took a liking to it. Well, it was more of an obsession, in true toddler fashion. She watched it at least 2 - 3 times every day. Morning, noon and night. I would occasionally try to persuade her to engage in a more educational activity or even to just watch something else, but nothing beyond casual encouragement. I was too overwhelmed with grief and depression to care.

But, I didn't really mind that Moana was basically on repeat for a month and a half. The movie is visually stunning, the music is inspiring and heartfelt, and moments of hilarity abound (that Hei Hei is too good). So, having Moana in the background of my life for about six straight weeks was not the worst thing.

Maybe it was the manifestation of Stockholm syndrome, but there was a day about three weeks into Clara's Moana addiction when I suddenly decided I needed to visit Hawaii. I became as obsessed with the idea as Clara was with the movie. I couldn't stop thinking about it and looking up flights online.

Now, I know Moana isn't set in Hawaii specifically, but it's close enough and I've always, always wanted to go to Hawaii. Call me basic or whatever, but I've never been and from what I hear, it's magical. Plus, we have some family ties to Oahu and I've longed to see it for myself for decades.

So when things fell into place around my 30th birthday thanks to a very generous gift, I decided to book the trip. That was back in April, nearly six months ago. And on Monday, Dillon and I are hopping a plane to paradise for an entire week (direct flight, too!).

A student at the school where I work (oh yeah, I work at a school now. More on that later) told me the air in Hawaii is different -- "It's rejuvenating!" he said excitedly. I wanted to cry because that's exactly why I am doing this. I have clung to this upcoming trip for so long for its promise of revitalization. My soul needs it. It needs a week to decompress, unwind, sleep, move slowly and savor its existence in this beautiful world.

I do feel that being alive is a real privilege -- not to say the "other side" isn't wonderful, but mortality offers us experiences that God knew we could only enjoy in a physical state. And yes, traveling can be a huge sacrifice and I recognize we are very fortunate to be able to do it. I know how privileged we are to be able to take the time and resources to go see another part of the wondrous earth God created for us. That fact is not lost on me.

So, it's finally happening! It feels like Christmas. We're going to eat our weight in delicious poke, we're going to lay on the beach, we're going to enjoy some fire dancing and we're going to breathe in as much of that rejuvenating Hawaiian air as we can fit into our lungs. And when we get back, I'll tell you all about it.

In the meantime, you were all so helpful when I went to Utah over the summer that I'm going to ask you again -- tell me where we HAVE to eat and what we HAVE to see and do. We're staying half the time on Waikiki and the other half on the North Shore, and we're renting a car so the sky's the limit. The trip is pretty well-planned already, but we may have missed something. And let's be honest, I don't know that I will get the chance to go back any time soon. So, lay it on me!


  1. We did the same exact trip Jenna! You must eat at Marukame Udon (just look it up on yelp to convince you) and Givanni’s Shrimp truck at the north shore. Surf lessons were my favorite part of the trip (we did para-sailing and I was meh about it). The Polynesian Cultural Center was one of my FAVORITE things and I wish I had gotten there right when it opened because there is so so much awesome things to do there. We are at a couple fancy restaurants, let me know if you want to know about those. We loved Hawaii!

  2. Your blog is very nice,Thanks for sharing good blog.



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