You Can Go Home Again

My view from the sofa

I am happy these days. It’s not just a things are going well kind of happy either, but a deeply contented happiness that comes from realizing I’m living in the right place, right now.

I loved traveling and living on the road, and was happy then too. I loved not owning or wanting things other than the clothes in my suitcase, and waking up each day knowing there was going to be something new out there for Brett and I to discover and/or learn. I was crushed when it all suddenly had to come to an end.

We watch amazing sunsets right from our living room.

Contented and happy was not what I was feeling when we left Kaua’i in 2018, and neither of us was sure then whether we wanted to come back or not. When I reflect on that time though I now can see the reasons for our unhappiness. We were miserable in the place we were living. Our landlord was a jerk and getting weirder by the day; the house was nice but very difficult to maintain; and it was nearly always hot and humid inside with no breeze and nothing to look at from the windows but the house next door. Getting through the constant bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Kapaa area was miserable as well, as were the drives to and from Lihue and down to Costco. Any trip in the car involved sitting in traffic, or adding mileage and time to get around congested spots (and even the bypasses could be heavily congested at times). The humidity on the east side could be brutal at times, and for me was compounded by a lack of air circulation in the house. Finally, Brett’s and my lives back during our four years were completely constrained by YaYu’s and WenYu’s busy lives and schedules with school-related activities, sports, or work, YaYu’s in particular. There was a purpose in all that they did, we supported their efforts, and it paid off in community recognition and scholarships for both girls, but Brett and I often felt like we had no life of our own outside of wherever they needed to be or what they needed to do. It was often difficult for us to find the time to see and do the things we wanted.

These days I get to savor my morning cup of coffee along with a beautiful view and a cool breeze blowing through the living room.

It was with some trepidation that we came back to Kaua’i this past March. Our girls had told us last December that they all thought we should return, and we loved being back when we visited in January, but we still weren’t so sure it was the best place for us to settle. However, once we did decide to come back we made a second decision: no repeats of the things that had bothered us before, and to start again from scratch. That decision was the smartest thing we did, as our second time around has turned out to be a very different experience in every way, with the result that both of us feel deeply happy to be back on the island. After nearly six months here I cannot think of even one thing I don’t like about where we live (and I have tried). Our landlord is definitely not weird, and a genuinely nice guy, born and raised on the island. We love our apartment’s location out of the tourist bubbles. We love the layout of the rooms, the amount of storage we have, the massive bathroom, the big, beautiful private yard with its flowers and fruit trees. Most especially we love the steady flow of air through the rooms that keeps the apartment feeling cool and mostly humidity free. We’ve had absolutely no need of an air-conditioner here. We’re very happy with the furniture we chose and how it fits into the space. The apartment’s size is perfect for us although we easily accommodated YaYu this past summer, and we have nice neighbors. It’s a less than 10-minute drive each week to a great farmer’s market, and although Costco and Lihue are actually further away from us than they were before, the drive to those places is easier and faster these days as we don’t have to deal with Kapaa’s stop and go traffic like before. We have a great walking venue nearby and our south shore location is also an easy distance from several nice beaches. Salt Pond Beach Park is just 15 minutes away, and the base at Barking Sands with its long beautiful beach is just a 30-minute drive. We can go the other direction to the Poipu beaches and be there in under 15 minutes. Finally, and maybe best of all, Brett and I make our own schedule these days, and mostly go with what we feel like doing at the moment rather than make plans in advance. Our time is fully our own. (Note: Currently the traffic moves nicely through Kapaa because of the lack of visitors to the island. When they return, so will the traffic.)

The beach is always a happy place for me.

It seems you can go home again, maybe as long as you bring a different set of expectations along with you the second time around. I know that things can change for the worse on a dime (been there, done that) but I’m so happy we decided to give Kaua’i a second chance, and that we’re now, as Oprah says, getting to live our best lives here. The only thing that could make me any happier than I am now would be to have it easier for our children to get here or for us to get to them. Until that happens though, I am going to enjoy this happy place we’re in to the fullest.

14 thoughts on “You Can Go Home Again

  1. This post made my day. I knew you needed to be here! When you’d complain about the humidity, I never understood it since our weather up here is totally different. You are living the life of a truly retired person right now. So happy for both of you!!!!!

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    1. It really is a different life down here, nothing like it was up in Kapaa, and boy has that made a difference in how we feel about living here. We always liked Princeville’s weather, but it was (and still is) too far away for the stuff we liked and needed to do. Just a little ways down the road from here though and the weather changes completely again – the west side is HOT and dry!

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      1. We’re just a couple of miles east of Kalaheo, on the border between Lawai and Koloa. Where our house is located we catch the wind that comes through the Lawai valley, which is why it stays cool where we are. We do face west though so get the afternoon sun, but nothing as bad as we had when we lived in Kapaa. The park where we walk is in Kalaheo though – there’s always a breeze there.

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  2. Really happy to hear this. We are facing somewhat of a reverse situation, as we’ve really liked the weather & norcal area. But, the weather…. omg. And the fires. I believe in climate change, & if it’s going to happen this quickly & this intensely, I’m not sure we can hack it until the kids graduate from high school (5 years), which is our current goal.

    I get miserable & grouchy when the weather is hot, so can relate to the humidity. We have AC, but we try to be responsible about usage, and even so, I hate feeling like i can’t be outside all day. We’re already so limited socially with COVID, that I count on socially distanced walks, runs, etc. Taking that away has been really challenging due to air quality & heat.

    Enough with my whines. So very happy for you that you’ve found a great place (even if it’s a new look at a place you’ve been before)!

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    1. My heart aches for my beautiful California – I almost can’t believe what’s going on. It’s apocalyptic. Hopefully better weather will be arriving soon (with rain) and calm things down so that life can return to normal for most. Deny climate change at your peril is my mantra – it’s coming, and more quickly than ever.

      I get very cross when the weather is hot, and humidity only compounds things, so I am super happy to be here now, and grateful we can get out every day for a walk. The temperature has climbed a bit though so I go fully equipped with a wet cloth around my neck and a big sun visor.

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  3. It seems like all life circumstances changed to bring you peace and happiness. That rarely happens, I should think. But, the landlord I can totally understand. A good view out the backyard and a breeze would make me supremely happy.

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    1. I’ve felt that way too, that life circumstances did conspire to bring us to where we are now. Would I rather still be traveling? A few months ago I would have said yes, but these days I’m not so sure. The longer we’re here, the more contented I am.

      I still pinch myself every day over the view from those French doors. What did I do right to deserve this? But then again, in the past it was what did we do to deserve that former crazy/awful landlord?

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  4. Interesting post. You have proven that you can go home again, as long as you change the things you didn’t like the first time. You lived in a busier area, so you moved to a less hectic place. You had a crazy landlord, so you knew who to stay away from. It was too humid where you were, so you went to a different part of the island. This post is also very timely for me because I was just discussing with a friend how difficult it would be to move back to a place I used to live, but maybe that’s not true–if I adjusted my expectations and changed the things I didn’t like when I lived there previously.

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    1. Changing our expectations was what made the difference. We knew after visiting in January that if we ever came back we did not want to live in Kapaa again – it was depressing for us to drive through it again. So we thought about where we might like it more and narrowed it down to the south side. And here we are and we love it. We still go to many of the same places, but aren’t dealing with any of the negatives these days.

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  5. Such an interesting post. And it does seem like a lot has changed for you since your last time living there…all for the good! That view and the weather would be a seller for me. 🙂

    We were just looking around the country/world at weather (fires, hurricanes, hot/cold extremes, etc.) and thinking about how lucky we are to be here. There are some gray days ahead, but overall, we like the seasons and we built in a lot of windows and a gas fireplace (which we both love in cool/cold weather). I thought I would miss my former house, but right now all I can think is how much I DON’T miss the upkeep and worrying about the next infrastructure challenge to come. Covid and virtually no social interaction have been a challenge, but overall, we have no complaints. I think retirement, once you settle into it, is really a joy. I’m grateful to have lived to this point and to be able to make my own schedule.

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    1. It’s not just the location, but also the fact that we’re finally able to make our own schedules. That’s been a huge factor in our satisfaction this time as well.

      We currently feel very grateful to be here – Kaua’i is a very safe place as far as the virus is concerned, for now anyway. Things are still shut down until October 1, and locals take the ordered precautions (masks, distancing) seriously for the most part. But even when visitor do start coming back, we are out of the tourist areas for the most part which will help.

      We initially talked about possibly buying this time, but after a few months we’ve realized we’re happy renting again. This house is a long-term investment for our landlord and his wife – they are both from here and are unlikely to sell (it was their home for years – they lived in the apartment upstairs).

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  6. What a positive, optimistic outlook you have laid out! I could get used with that view and soon, those 2 palm trees in your pictures will become so easily recognizable. I am so glad for you, you’ve found your place for a peaceful existence which is not small thing.

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    1. The coconut palms out back are the icing on the cake for me. Brett and I think the coconuts on the trees must be glued on because they are all ripe and yet NOTHING seems to knock them off! The are always the perfect way to frame each day’s sunset.

      They will have to pry us out of this apartment with a crowbar. We love it here that much!

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