my way back

It’s hardly the first time I’ve stood on the curb at this airport crying, with the island breeze wiping my tears away. The tears started nearly a decade ago. “I’m just going back to the mainland to get the rest of my stuff. Then I’m coming back” I would joke in a a feeble attempt to relieve my own heartbreak.  And somehow I always find my way back to this island. Can never deny its pull on my heart for too long. I have yet to move my belongings to the Big Island. Yet Aloha pours around me like lava flowing into the ocean, and when it cools, it becomes increasingly difficult to extract my heart from the majestic Pahoehoe and Aa.  Piece after piece of my heart remains each time I return to this rock in the middle of the sea.

For 10 years I’ve stared out my living room windows at snow-covered pine trees and crimson autumn leaves. Stared out the car window at vehicles moving at a hectic pace, rushing through life. Behind their steering wheels, drivers with busy lives and road rage and no time to offer strangers a smile… or even friends.

10 years of suffering from all the symptoms of homesickness for a distant world that is so much more than beaches and palm trees. Lava flows into the sea, and Creator God is still very much alive, creating land while we live and love and work and play and laugh and pray. Perhaps that is why I feel  closest to Him here. Perhaps that is an aspect of what calls me back.

I return. And during my time on the island, new friendships, memories with old friends, meaningful conversations, life-changing adventures, and heart-changing epiphanies fill my heart. Reluctantly, I say goodbye, and stand on that curb in Hualalai’s shadow, and offer my tears once again.

I thought that last goodbye cut the deepest. And that time it wasn’t even I that was flying away across the ocean.  It was 2106. He was flying back to the mainland and leaving me behind. His words sounded logical. He just couldn’t be away from work for two weeks. It would cost so much money to change both our plane tickets. It made more sense for me to stay both weeks. It was all paid for already.

My heart however read between the lines in the black sand. He was not just leaving me on the Big Island. He was leaving me. For him, there was no going back. He was flying back to the life he had chosen, and was leaving me where I have belonged for too long now. I pulled away from that curb in tears that flowed so fiercely I thought I may stop breathing. I drove and drove until the tears subsided, somewhere north of Hawi. And I nursed the seemingly unmendable tear in my heart at the end of a road lined with cows and windmills. It was far deeper than heart break. It was the pain of a heart that believed for years that when I fell in love, it would be forever. It was the pain of a heart that knew before my conscious could be ready to acknowledge it that there is a difference between being in love, and being in love with your soulmate.

What hurt the most was letting go of love for someone who wasn’t my soulmate. That moment when he flew back to New York, and I remained on the Big Island, deep down in my bleeding heart I knew that our hearts were from worlds so different that to hang on would mean one of us would forever be a foreigner, never truly feeling at home in the others world. As painful as that was, I am strangely grateful he left my heart in Kona.

Because he did, I was free to follow the aloha God etched into my heart like the ancient carvings of the kahuna on lava rock from years gone by. But the thing is, I’ve been taking the scenic route. And since God is more concerned with who we are becoming, that is perfectly acceptable, because I have become compassionate, kind, courageous, loving, prayerful, patient, grateful, and joyful while roaming this route.

In 2005, I signed up for my first marathon, the Mohawk Hudson marathon. It ended in what was then my “backyard” in Albany, NY. After my 17 mile long run, I admitted that I was in over my head. My heart craved that 26.2 mile journey, but I had yet to even race a half marathon. Encouraged by one of my very best friends, Tammy, I downgraded to the half, and we finished our first half marathon in under two hours!

In 2017, I was pursuing my soul’s version of a first marathon, the move to the Big Island, where I had raced my very first triathlon and met another one of my very best friends in 2009. After all these years, my heart still longed to call this volcano my home. And that best friend, Bree, encouraged me to pursue that job at the resort. “Don’t you dare look back” was the song she sent me in March. But I had to finish a half marathon first. A scary, solo move to New Hampshire, where I incidentally completed my first marathon back in 2010.

The half marathons are behind me now though. Just stepping stones carved of lava rock and coral along my way to the big dance. Because at heart, I am an endurance athlete and an island girl. That is who God made me to be! I just needed Him to give me the strength to try it one more time, to push a little further…

It’s hardly the first time I’ve stood on the curb at this airport crying, with the island breeze wiping my tears away. The tears are different this time though. Sweeter. Tears reflected in the eyes of someone who I am in love with, true. What matters to him matters to me. Because truly there is a difference between being in love, and being in love with your soulmate.

“I’m just going back to the mainland to get the rest of my stuff and pack. Then I’m on my way back” I tell him. But this time, it’s not a joke. On this Hawaii Nei a pure, passionate heart beats to the sound of the same tribal drum as mine. Now I know what I’m after. I can see that in Patrick’s eyes. I can see forever. I can see Aloha. I can truly be home.

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