I once had an old stilt house on Judd Street just above downtown Honolulu. It was situated in Nuuanu Valley at the bottom of a driveway so steep you'd have to bend completely at the waist and hike to it's top. On trash day I would put full bags of garbage on the hood of my Toyota and drive them up to the street for collection.
Between the houses were giant mango and fragrant plumaria trees. If the property owner, Mrs. Hayashibara caught you even picking mangoes that had fallen to the ground, she would give you stink-eye and wag her finger at you. The house came with a small patch of grassy yard that had an old fashioned clothes line running it's length. Red Ginger and Gardenia bushes grew along the property line making the air and the sun dried laundry smell sweet all year round.
The wooden staircase leading to the front door made hollow sounding thumps as you climbed them, and when you reached a small porch at the top, you were greeted with gusts of gentle wind that seemed to be waiting there for you to come home.
Inside the house was nothing fancy, with wood paneled walls and old shaggy carpeting reminiscent of the early 60s. But tree house views from jalousie windows that wrapped around the structure made up for it's lack of decor. Standing at the kitchen window, you saw the rooftops of homes on the terrace just below, and off into the distance the industrial side of Honolulu Harbor. I'm not sure I fully appreciated it at the time, but in retrospect the view was pretty spectacular to look at while washing the dishes.
The hilly residential district of Alewa Heights was located just across Judd Street and made for great walking territory. I would take the same route every day and make mental notes of check points along the way.
First the Puukamalii Cemetery where many WWI Vets are buried along side local Japanese from years gone by. Even then it was neglected and deteriorating, but the aura of "manna" still lingered. Several blocks later Natsunoya Tea House, an old home converted to a Japanese tea house almost 80 years ago and still in business today. Then Kamehameha Middle School. When I reached the locked fence surrounding the play yard there it was time to turn around and head back down Skyline Drive toward home.
During those years I worked at Queen's Medical Center on Punchbowl Street. A six mile drive from Judd Street that took up to 45 minutes on weekday mornings. Three miles in the other direction was Tamashiro Market where every conceivable kind of fresh fish could be found every day of the month. I think I ate my weight in salmon, tuna and rice every week.
I loved living in Honolulu every day that I was there, all together about 10 years. But I made a promise to myself the day I decided to move back to California. That in the future when ever I felt the familiar longing for the beauty and distinction of Hawaii, I would consciously remember the reasons why I left.
The isolation, cost of living, cost of leaving (even for a weekend), the lack of housing, business climate, year round heat and even some of the cultural differences that exist there. It's always best to appreciate what you have, when and where you have it, and remember to take your happiness and memories with you where ever you go.