Every good thing must end, I guess. Especially perfect vacations.
Martin went out to photograph his last Kauai sunrise while I started packing for the trip home. All the recent biking, kayaking, and hiking was making itself known today: Every muscle was sore, every movement induced a wince. We hurt “nose to toes,” as Martin put it. Like a couple of old people, we hobbled around.
We said goodbye to our pretty condo overlooking Wailua Bay and went out to breakfast at the Ono Family Restaurant. The Hawaiian word ono – “oh no!” – means, counterintuitively, “delicious.” It reminds me of the car “Nova,” marketed to Hispanics, which translates from Spanish, unfortunately, as “Doesn’t go.”
Who wants a car that doesn’t run? Or a meal that inspires a gasped, “Oh no!”
Over a definitely ono (Hawaiian ono, not English “oh no”) breakfast, we briefly toyed with the idea of– oops!– “accidentally” missing our flight home. Oh darn! The next flight is when, tomorrow? Or maybe not until next week, even? Gosh, sorry about that. Isn’t that just too bad. I guess we’ll just have to hang out a little longer in Kauai, what a tragedy.
Then, excited and inspired, we kicked around the idea of just staying here. Not even going home at all. That’s it! I’ll quit my job! I’ll get a job here in Kauai! We’ll sell our house and live here, in paradise! We’ll book a cruise or hire a boat, something to get our two dogs safely from California to Hawaii, without subjecting them to airplane cargo holds. (Getting around those pesky quarantine laws will take some thought and a little ingenuity, though.)
But it turns out that nursing jobs (yes indeed, I researched the possibility) pay less, and housing and gas and food (read: everything!) costs more, and … we could live in Kauai, but we’d certainly live poorer.
Besides…. we really needed to release our friends Karen and Michael from house-sitting and dog-caring duty. They have uncomplainingly lived at our house, watching three energetic dogs and tirelessly wiping twelve muddy paws through ten days of torrential spring rains while we frolicked shamelessly about in paradise.
I am very grateful for friends like that.
And I am desperate to see my dogs, my two glorious and beloved Golden Retrievers, who probably haven’t even noticed we’ve been gone, given the outstanding care Karen and Michael have undoubtedly showered on them.
I hate friends like that.
And (heavy sigh, grumble grumble), Martin and I are responsible people. We can’t just not go home. We can’t just not show up at work.
Alright (grudgingly resolved): We’ll go back.
As a befitting bookend to this trip, I cried as the plane took off. I cried about leaving this tropical paradise, this shining place where my soul belongs. I cried over the end of this fabulous perfect vacation.
I even cried because I felt like I was losing Samoa all over again, forsaking my beloved tropical island just as I did twenty-five years earlier, upon completion of my Peace Corps service. I was wrenching myself away, tearing my heart, my very soul, in two, leaving a big piece of me behind. Leaving it here, on the island.
Where I belong.
But I guess the dogs will be happy to see us.
Karen and Michael, too.
Although I know that Karen and Michael won’t be “happy” to see us so much as “profoundly relieved.” It makes their gift to us, freely taking care of our dogs at our house, all the more precious.
It was the Best Vacation Ever, taken with the Best Husband Ever. I was going home to the Best Dogs Ever, taken care of by the Best Friends Ever.
Tomorrow, I turn 50 years old.
I don’t need to live on a tropical island. I don’t need to change a thing. Because you know what I’m lucky enough to have?
The Best Life Ever.