Rowing in Maui, summer 2006
Not for long, though, and that goes for both parts of the headline.
Seven years ago, my good friend Crystal and I came to Hawaii to celebrate our high school graduation and vacation one last time before going off to college. I was headed for the University of Arizona and she was about to start classes at UC-Davis. When we went to Hawaii the first time, smartphones weren’t really a thing, but we used our flip phones to keep in touch with our boyfriends and coordinate meeting times with the rest of my family (also on the trip). We didn’t think to use our mobile devices to take pictures — we had real cameras for that. Though we documented our stay pretty well, we focused more on enjoying the island than keeping the trip alive through images.
Life is much different for us nearly ten years later. Crystal is temporarily living in Honolulu for her final year of eye doctor school and I’m, well, visiting because there’s not a whole lot going for me in NYC anymore. My open schedule enabled me to jump on a plane to Santa Barbara last week, and I’m dreading my return to Manhattan on Wednesday. I thought I had an extra day in Hawaii, but I was wrong. I will say I’m excited to see my NYC friends again (and have more food options at my fingertips). That’s another thing about Hawaii: Gorgeous as it is, I’m not crazy about the cuisine. I miss burritos, Italian food, bagels, and Chinese takeout. As soon as I get back, I’m ordering Blockheads or eating at Chipotle. And it will be glorious.
Because she had her first day of work today (I totally acted like a mom on her daughter’s first day of school too — so nerdy haha), we did most of our outdoor adventures over the weekend. On Saturday, we drove out to Honolulu to go snorkeling, which was incredible but left both of us with major battle wounds and sunburns. I’m still on NYC time, so I got up at 5:45 and FORCED myself to stay in bed until 6:15. I felt like my Boston grandparents who cannot for the life of them sleep in past 5:30. I have a feeling I’m going to take after them when I get older. I was pretty hyper for Crystal but she commended me for having so much life and enthusiasm in the morning. I swear I’m not always like that — I just happen to be pretty worry-free at the moment.
I’ve been pale since birth, and the last time Crystal and I came to Hawaii, I got burned all over my body, so I was much more careful this time around. I bought Coppertone’s SPF 70 sunscreen and lathered it everywhere — naturally, I missed a few spots on the backs of my legs and looked kind of like a lobster at the end of the day, but there was no way I was getting out of that experience without at least one bad burn.
We left our phones in the car, so while I wanted to take tons of pictures of the beach and what not, I wasn’t willing to leave my iPhone in the sand all day, so we couldn’t photograph the water or anything like that. We didn’t take our cameras to the beach seven years ago, and sometimes it’s nice to just live in the moment without Instagramming or Vineing. We can’t always be our own publicists, right?
For whatever reason, I’ve recently had some increased control issues, so you can imagine how tough it was for me to approach snorkeling at the beginning. For one, there’s a lot to focus on in the water. You’re not allowed to touch or walk on the coral beneath you, but if your mask leaks water all over your eyes or your breathing tube is full, you need to stop and get your gear together. You also have to pay attention to your flippers and breathing tube, and for me, it was a lot to manage in addition to swimming and keeping saltwater out of my mouth (accidentally swallowed gulps of it too — almost threw up afterward). With Crystal’s assistance, I found my way, and we had an awesome time looking at the beautiful fish below us. One actually swam right up into Crystal’s face and caused her to scream underwater. I’d seen the same fish lurking around — he was definitely looking to mess with people that day.
I got thrown around by the waves a couple of times and slammed both knees into the coral (ow!!!), but it’s all part of the experience. The scariest thing that happened was getting a foot and calf cramp on the deep end. I was in serious pain but swam through it — it’s either that or death by drowning. Goes to show I need to stretch before physical activity and eat more bananas. My calf still hurts a little — someone’s out of shape!
On Sunday, we went jetskiing on two separate jetskis. At first, I was nervous about being on my own, as we’d shared one in Hawaii seven years ago. I was fine after the first few minutes and we waved at each other during the entire run. Then we saw Gabe Bondoc in Honolulu. She’d seen him before but he was just as great this time as he was in Portland. Crystal introduced me to his music last month, and I will admit to tearing up during some of his songs. He did too, so it was totally normal. The audience was pretty lively and entertaining as well — The guys next to us were rowdy yet hilarious, and I think the high energy of the room really added to the experience.
A lot has changed since we came to Hawaii nearly a decade ago, but I’m glad to say our friendship hasn’t. Crystal is a reliable honest friend, and that’s why I laughed when she straight up said I’m the dictionary definition of the quarter-life crisis.
“You want to start going by your middle name, you’re changing industries, you’re moving back to California, you’re giving up on journalism. And you’re 25. You’re the quarter-life crisis in a box.”
“Is it bad that I don’t see it as a crisis?” I asked.
“No, I guess not.”
I’m starting to view all this as an opportunity, not a bad thing. I left one field to pursue an industry better suited to me, and though I’m at the very, very bottom of the food chain right now, there really is something liberating about recognizing when a major part of your life just isn’t working out. I was very successful as an online writer/editor, but most of the time, I was stressed and always feeling behind. I could have the greatest day in the world, but 24 hours later, everyone would have forgotten about the heartfelt article I’d published and put so much work and thought into. They were more likely to remember my missteps than my accomplishments, but isn’t that how we’re all wired?
Somebody recently messaged me out of the blue to say they don’t think screenwriting is going to come together for me. I’m not afraid to admit that’s a possibility — but what I don’t need is default discouragement simply because I’m taking a big risk and entering another cutthroat business. There’s a huge chance I will fail at this, but as my friend Nikki wrote in her own blog, I’ll still be me at the end of the day, and nobody can ever rob me of my love for writing. I’ve dedicated my entire life to writing, and I may not be the best at it, but I’m never going to stop working to serve others with this particular skill.
If you don’t think I’m going to succeed, or don’t want me to succeed, that’s OK, but just know that I wouldn’t have decided to change my life if I didn’t think I could make the transformation. It was either that or stay in a line of work that was destroying my spirit. Which one would you choose?