I enjoyed that last 30 day prompt I did, last spring. It got me blogging again (in spurts) and using my scheduling tool so I didn’t feel so bad about a neglected blog in between times. So I looked for a few more to fill out over the next several months. See how it goes.
Prompt: The furthest away from home you have ever been (~1000 words)
I think the furthest away from home I remember being is Hawaii, in 2007, as a sort of make-up honeymoon.
I’ve been in Germany, Paris, and Wales. But I don’t remember it. Frankly, I think my parents were being supremely unfair to even take an infant on such travels. It doesn’t count as traveling if you can’t remember it!
Anyway, back to the make-up honeymoon. It kind of begins in 2001, when we got married– a small ceremony and no honeymoon to speak of; partially due to finances and partially due to cultural pressure. We were mormon at the time, and not getting married in the temple had an element of shame attached to it.
Fast forward a few years, and in 2006 we were having some issues and separated. We reconciled a few months later. Shortly after my grandmother passed away. I was surprised to learn I would receive a small inheritance. Of course, the first thing we did was pay off several debts and put some money into savings—but I also wanted to treat my husband.
At the point we went on the trip, we’d moved back in together and been going to marriage counseling for almost 9 months—working on reconciliation for nearly 10 months. Some people said it was a bad idea to splurge the inheritance funds on a fancy trip when our reconciliation was still so “new,” but to me it seemed more than worthwhile.
Our separation wasn’t because of a difference in values, or because we fell out of love. It was communication issues, plain and simple. Both of us feeling unappreciated. For six years, he’d worked long and difficult hours at often thankless positions to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table.
And now, when it came time for it, he’d actually listened and gone to the effort of making the changes he could to improve our marriage. He’d communicated the changes he needed from me. Not many people do that, y’know. Not many people have the strength or willingness to lean into the discomfort of confronting their own biases, their own entrenched habits and bad behaviors. But my husband has that strength, because he’s awesome.
He found ways to show his appreciation for my contributions as a wife, mother, and life partner. On a daily basis, he made concerted efforts to be present, generous, respectful, compassionate, and thoughtful—to leave work at work, to develop good stress-resolution coping skills, to communicate his needs. We were working through our problems.
So as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t a risk or bad idea at all. It was an opportunity to take the honeymoon we never got to have. The only regret I have is that I didn’t buy the trip through Costco Travel—I used some online travel package place, and they kinda sucked in terms of price to value. I could have gotten a way better deal through Costco Travel. I know it sounds like I’m totally pimpin’ as a salesperson, but for real—I spent about $3.5k for about a week and a half on what was advertised as a 5 star hotel room (it really was not) on the beachfront (I guess three blocks away is kind of the beachfront).
We also got a rental car, luau night, and a magic show. After a few days, we realized the spare tire on our rental car had a rusted screw jammed into it (clearly not put in by us—the rust was old and spreading onto the tire rubber as well), so we took it back to the dealership. I’d specifically paid for a convertible, and they tried to push us into a sedan. We ended up getting the last convertible on the lot, a Sebring or something like that. While on the trip, I made the mistake of pricing out the exact same package through Costco Travel and found out we could have stayed in one of the super nice ocean view resorts right on the beach, gotten two extra days, and saved money.
So yeah, that’s the only thing I regret.
The rest of it was amazing, though. We had a really fantastic time, with just the right balance of touristy activities and self-guided island wandering. I tried sushi for the first time, and there was this one day when we rented mopeds and whizzed around Honolulu. As it turns out, they don’t have helmet laws on Oahu (which is utter insanity), and realistically speaking, all hours are kind of rush hour traffic in Honolulu, but we were literally riding through what is colloquially accepted as “rush hour traffic,” that is, 5 o’clock traffic. It was terrifying and exhilarating.
When I began riding motorcycle in 2008, I’d often think back to that experience and tell myself, “You survived riding a moped without any gear at all in rush-hour Honolulu traffic. You can do this.”
We drank pineapple juice every morning and ate mahi-mahi at the restaurant every night. We would get up early, just as the sun was rising, to walk or snorkel at the nearly deserted beaches. I guess the time of year we went was the off-season for Hawaiians to go to the beach, and no-one on vacation likes to get up at dawn. For Washington natives, sunrise in Hawaii in the fall is absolute perfection, though.
We visited historical sites and museums, Buddhist temples and gardens, and beautiful national parks. At the magic show, an illusionist made a helicopter appear on stage.
At the luau a woman in a grass skirt stood in front of the audience and gave a little speech about traditional Polynesian values and culture before launching into a blessing for the gathered attendees which sounded suspiciously similar to the typical mormon, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for everyone arriving safely this evening, and please guide everyone safely to their homes and families at the end of the night, in the name of Jesus Christ amen,” template. I choked on my Long Island Iced tea and met my husbands’ eyes across the table, smothering laughter as we shared silent merriment at the LDS prayer over our alcoholic drinks. Later, on the fake beach by the dugout canoes, I found BYU insignia painted on the wall, but I was too drunk to be indignant at my inability to escape the mormons even on vacation.
Near the end of the trip, we got tattoos to commemorate both the honeymoon and our renewed vows. I chose three plumeria blossoms, while my husband chose three sea turtles (each with a different design on the shell). Three to represent our family: Husband, self, and son. Plumeria and sea turtles to represent Hawaii, and new beginnings.