I’ve often gone on adventures and written about them in my blogs and newsletters. But for some reason, our recent trip to Hawai’i has been more difficult to write. Maybe it’s too personal. Maybe the lessons were so subtle, they are hard to capture. We’ll see as I write because that’s when the lessons are often revealed
In the spring of 2021, I bid on a trip to Hawaii through the Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences fundraiser. I did it on a lark, not really thinking it through, but wanting a bit of stimulation during a time of COVID lockdown.
When I won the auction, I felt a bit foolish even as I was excited. Jacob and I don’t commit large sums of money without talking it over first. But since it was done, we talked it through and decided to take that “trip of a lifetime” to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary and take a belated honeymoon.
The vacation/auction I won was on the Big Island of Hawaii, but when we couldn’t get the dates we wanted, we opted to upgrade our trip. This took us to the island of Maui, where we spent 10 nights – four at the luxury hotel and six at a condo. I planned and plotted all the places we’d go and the great food we’d eat. Jake said “yes” to most everything and away we went on December 18th!
We stayed at the condo in Lahaina first. It was modest – a sweet one-bedroom where we could cook our own meals and watch the sea turtles in the surf while having breakfast. We could hear the surf even when the doors and windows were closed – which was hardly ever! I napped, cooked, read, and practiced yoga while Jake napped, meditated, read, and went for runs. We alternated our days with this route and going on adventures.
The soothing rhythm of the surf helped me unwind from an intense autumn. My body rested knowing that these earthly rhythms go on, day after day, year after year.
Being at sea level surrounded by the water and earth nourished my body and mind. I slept well, breathed well, and my mind slowed down – a difficult thing to do in the high desert of Santa Fe where the air and ether elements rule!
I was reminded how much I like living at sea level, one of the things that draws me to Tucson. And how much I love living by the ocean. I grew up on the New England coast and although I’ve been away from there since I was eighteen, the familiarity of the ocean soothes me.
On the days we went out for adventures (see photos below) we traveled far and wide. We toured a biodynamically designed cacao farm on the edge of town – Ku’ia – and enjoyed a lovely chocolate tasting. We drove around the west Maui mountains on a harrowing, often one-lane road, on our way to an incredible lunch at Mama’s Fish House. (note: it wasn’t really “on the way,” just something I thought would be cool. It was and was also exhausting).
A few days later, we drove into the rainforest – on the road to Hana – and stopped at the lovely Garden of Eden and the Ke’anae peninsula – which turned out to be two of my favorite places. Our adventures were narrated by a sweet, funny guy on the Shaka Guide app we purchased. He was an informative companion, telling us stories about history and culture along our driving routes.
We went on a catamaran whale watch, savored the food at some incredible restaurants–Japengo, Fleetwood’s, Mama’s Fish House, and the Feast at Lele. We hung out under the largest Banyan tree in the Lahaina Town Square. Then we moved along to the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea.
We spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our Anniversary, and a recovery day at the Fairmont before heading home. We had an incredible spa day and ate at the Kea Lani’s wonderful restaurants. We particularly liked Ko.
We spent our anniversary morning on a wonderful snorkel tour to Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and watched as a humpback whale mother, yearling and escort frolicked nearby. After a rest, we drove up to the top of the dormant Haleakalā through some lovely farm country – “up-country” as it’s called. On the last day, we had a sunrise canoe paddle with two native Hawai’ian men then relaxed for the day.
We finished up with a lovely burger by the pool, canceling our fancy dinner reservations because we didn’t want to leave the resort!
The Hope versus the Reality
Some part of me (maybe my inner teenager that longs for romance and adventure) imagines that when we go on a “vacation of a lifetime”, we will be different people. That somehow our personalities will dissolve into the carefree, unscheduled, extroverts the magazines and travel sites showcase. That we’ll both be a bit more like, well, someone else!
But that’s just not true. We continue being who we are (highly sensitive introverts who are intellectually curious and anxious about catching COVID) and we bring our habits and patterns with us on every vacation – even a special one, even when we are being open, curious, and adventurous.
We are who we are
We’ve been reading about adult attachment and how it manifests in relationships and it’s clear that we are pretty different in this area. I lean more towards avoidant attachment – needing independence, autonomy, and space so I can stay close to my needs and intuition. I’m naturally spontaneous as I follow my impulses and am happy to go it alone.
But I’m a crazy planner on trips like this (I am a Leo after all!) I don’t want to miss out on any of the great things around us and restaurants and adventures are often booked months in advance. I like interacting with lots of people when exploring and then being alone to let it settle and integrate.
For most of my life, I’ve struggled with the twin pulls of being in the world and in a relationship with people and being alone on retreat away from the world and my people. This impulse doesn’t go away when we go on vacation – I want to be with people, not just Jacob, and be alone, independent and autonomous.
On the other hand, Jacob tends to be secure and a tad of anxious on the attachment spectrum, meaning he likes a lot of closeness after he’s met his needs for alone time. He likes to do most things together and gets a lot of his needs for love met doing that. He also likes to follow his needs and desires in the moment like we do during the annual trips to his family’s Maine cottage.
But this was a different kind of trip, and we were heavily scheduled on many days. He was pretty laid back and willing to go along with my plans, but he prefers more spontaneity. He has less need to be alone to settle and integrate as that happens naturally during his meditations, runs, and our conversations.
Since we brought all of who we are with us, our mornings and evenings looked much the same as they do in Santa Fe – each of us doing our own thing until breakfast. Then we cook, eat, and talk about our day, feelings, and experiences. Rinse and repeat around dinner, although in Hawai’i we tended to go out for dinner.
So much time together. So much!
After almost thirteen years together, we have settled into a rhythm of our own that persists wherever we are.
I am both comforted and constrained by this rhythm, which makes the trip hard to talk about. My Leo-self that’s a bit extroverted wants to report Fun! Adventurous! Exciting! Life-Changing! Great Sex! A Dream Come True!
Yet our time in Maui was mostly restful, nourishing, regenerative, and adventurous. It was also pretty darn difficult for me because I was living so intensely close to my husband for 11 days.
In our normal lives, we don’t live every single waking moment together.
So, our lovely “vacation of a lifetime” was punctuated with my avoidant attachment style rearing its head. There were times I wanted to run from the room screaming “I want to be on this vacation ALONE!”
But I didn’t. After thirteen years, we know this will happen even if I pretend it won’t. But in the future? Maybe five days together is good, then, as Jacob suggested, he will go home, and I’ll stay for another five. By the time we reunite, I’ll be happy to see him again!
Retreating for Rhythm
As I write this, I’m by myself in a cute little “bunk-house” on a ranch outside of Abiquiu, New Mexico. Early Friday morning on the MLK holiday weekend I got a hit to come up here for a personal retreat as we approach the full moon.
I desperately needed some time alone to write, set intentions for 2022, and to nourish myself as I settle into my own rhythm again. It doesn’t take very long – just a day or so alone – for my intuition and creativity to return. For me to see clearly again and to appreciate what I have in Jacob – a soulmate and life partner living on the cutting edge of a spiritual, needs-based marriage.
Such a rare thing. I’m looking forward to seeing what will be revealed in this next decade!
P.S. Sending my appreciation to Joy Murphy Stewart and Susana Rinderle who shared tips from their 2021 trips to Maui. Many of the tours and restaurants we enjoyed were on their recommendation!