A brief history of my twenties thus far: lost, found, lost, found, lost, found, lost, found, lost.
I have lived in Hawai’i for a year now. I still have no clue how this happened to me. How did a science nerd from Texas end up in horticultural therapy in Hawai’i? If you figure that one out, let me know. But that is not what this is about. In fact, I’m not sure what this is about. In classic Kate style, I’m just going to ramble and not proofread things before I post them.
Here we go.
Let’s start with this: what have I been doing for the last year at work? (the condensed version)
I took cross-country road trip with one of my best friends and flew to Hawai’i at the end of it. Then, I started doing shift work at a horticultural therapy program. Now I’m a Wellness Supervisor for that same program and have a normal schedule for the first time in my life. I have learned about gardening, eating disorders, PTSD, how to walk someone through a panic attack, how to make organic pesticide, how to make pesto sauce, how to talk to young adults about suicide, how to talk to parents of young adults about suicide. I have learned the difference between cinnamon, thai, pesto, and tulsi basil (seriously, someone test me. I am so good at it). I have harvested pineapples, so many kinds of peppers, bananas, turmeric, taro, eggplants, papayas, starfruit, oranges, limes, mulberries, coconuts (if you consider taking a machete or a rock to a fallen coconut “harvesting”), kale, beets, lettuce, soursop, ulu, spinach, so many different herbs, and one singular carrot. I can say that some of the people I have worked with are the best people I know. I have cried while sitting under my desk next to a box of Pro Omega supplements because of a student. Recently. I have laughed at work. A lot.
What have I been doing in my non-work life? (Also the condensed version)
Outside of work I have done more than most people ever get to do. I’ve hiked Waipi’o Valley 34 times. I’ve jumped off of a cliff at the southern most point in the U.S. I have found the world’s best hammock spot (and shared it with very few people). I have seen the most amazing sunrises of my life so far. I have hiked Hilina Pali by myself. I have slept in my car more than I did when I lived in my car (and I consider myself lucky for this). I have climbed to the top of sacred volcanoes. I have paid my respects to lava and the goddess lava represents. I have reread the Harry Potter series and am halfway through it again. I have read so many other books I don’t want to try and think of them all right now. I have made friends with sea turtles, whales, dolphins, urchins, eels, an octopus, so many fish, wild horses, cats, dogs, cows, boars, goats, sheep, and people (well, some people). I have hiked through rainforests. I have broken bones, torn muscles, and seen a lot of my own blood. I have spent a week adventuring with one of my best friends, Sam. I have spent countless other days adventuring with my cohorts. I have been surfing in a sacred valley with a local Hawaiian whose name I still don’t know. I have climbed inadvisable rocks and trees and fallen from inadvisable rocks and trees. I have eaten a lot of Thai food. And I mean A LOT of Thai food. I have hiked into Waimanu. I have gone swimming in waterfall pools and jumped from more rocks than I can count. I have learned about people and places. I have hiked Pololu. I have slept in hammocks next to the best people I will likely ever know. I have studied Game Theory Application, Vertebrate Anatomy, Biochemistry, Poetry, International Price Theory, Epidemiology, Biomechanics, and attempted to study Political Science before I got bored and moved on. I have hiked Halape. I have gone snorkeling so much I think the fish in Honaunau Bay probably recognize me. I have star gazed into the clearest sky I have ever seen. I have watched a meteor shower alone in the middle of nowhere. I have collapsed after getting off of the stair climber at the gym. I have turned my tongue blue with shave ice. I have had some really weird fruit. I have gone paddle boarding. And kayaking. And learned how to lash a Wa’a. I have seen all sorts of different colored sand. I have cut my toes on lava rocks. I have only been sunburned 3 times.
How do I feel about the last year?
I have had to say goodbye to a lot of people. I have had to learn to work with a lot of different people. I have had to learn to live with a lot of people. I have learned that my stubborn-ass tendencies are not always fair, but it doesn’t look like they will be changing. I have learned to let go (Not really, have you met me?). But I have learned how to not be miserable all of the time.
So yeah, I feel pretty damn good about the last year. I am content with my choices. I miss some people on the mainland, but I doubt I would have figured that out if I did not leave. I feel like my recklessness paid off and I feel like the luckiest person on earth.
But above all of that, I feel grateful. I feel grateful to the land. I feel grateful to the water. I feel grateful to myself and what I am capable of. I am consistently overwhelmed with gratitude. For my entire life, I have been cursed (?) with noticing and remembering every single detail of everything. It was isolating and depressing to fixate on so many little things all of the time. Now, I notice things and am grateful. I wish I could pinpoint when that happened, but I can’t.
What happens next?
[Language alert. Sorry, mom]. I have no fucking clue. I am going to Alaska in less than a month. So, that’s cool. I just got an amazing review from my boss and things are looking good there. I gave my word that I would be at my job until at least May of 2017. I want to go back to school. Likely Fall of 2017, but who really knows? I need to live somewhere cold next (whenever that is). I know people in Chicago? I got a job offer at a distillery in Alaska? I have always wanted to live in the PNW? I miss some people in Florida? I miss some people in Texas?
What happens now?
I’ll probably hike Waipi’o another 30 times before I leave the island. I’ll probably fall from some more trees. I’ll probably make some friends. And I’ll likely say goodbye to some friends. I’ll probably drink some more Jameson and Longboard Lager. I’ll probably eat a lot more Thai food. I’ll probably swim so much my feet may never not be pruned. I’ll probably watch the sunrise. I’ll hopefully get to bring some of my mainland friends and family out here. I’ll probably hang out with some more whales at my hammock spot. I’ll probably stop at side of the road fruit stands.
I will definitely revel in all of the good mana before I say a hui hou to this aina.
And yes, I will probably continue to drink whiskey from my owl-decorated coffee cup. Life is pretty cool sometimes.