We left Hawaii on the night of September 11th and I remember thinking that I’d be a mess of tears at leaving the place we’d called home for the past 5+ years. We left with a bunch of suitcases, a stroller, and Tsunami in her kennel. Everything else would get packed up two weeks later when Wes flew back to supervise. I remember thinking that I’d be a mess of tears when we left, but really, it felt just like every other time we’d left for a trip. Our living room still had everything in it. There was a moment when I nearly lost it. Wes had started taking pictures down from the bedrooms and I made the mistake of looking in on it. The bare walls of the place where so much of life happened were a little too much for me and I quickly went back downstairs where I could pretend that nothing was changing.
When we landed in Portland and saw my parents, and then went to Wes’ parents and had dinner all together and I forgot about being sad. For six years we’ve lived at least a 12-hour travel day away, at least. Getting to and from Hawaii isn’t easy, and that had been our biggest complaint about living there (yes, there were other complaints, but that was the Big One). That weekend we had a birthday party for Stella and had all the family over for a BBQ and it was so fun.
The next week we went up to look for houses. We hadn’t quite decided where we wanted to live but had narrowed it down to two locations. Once we looked at both, it was clear we wanted to live in Gig Harbor. The city has a small town feel but also has everything that we need. It’s full of trees and trails the overall feel of the town is welcoming. We spent three days looking at houses and narrowed it down between two. We picked up our cars from Seattle and on the drive home we decided which one we wanted and then put an offer in a few days later. By Saturday, we had accepted the counter offer and had a house:
Well, sort of had a house. The process is so drawn out. For a month we signed contracts and dealt with the home inspection and lived out of suitcases. After Wes spent a week in Hawaii closing out our life there, he had to start work in Federal Way. He would drive up Monday morning and come back to his parents’ house Friday night and spend the weekend. The kids and I spent a night or two in a hotel with him for the inspection and then quickly went back to Vancouver where we all had our own bedrooms and room to play. It still didn’t quite feel real that we had moved. I didn’t miss anything yet because, without a concrete change (a house, our things), it didn’t feel like we had moved yet. It felt like a trip to see our family. We enjoyed the late summer weather and spent time with family and friends and I didn’t miss anything in Hawaii.
We finally got possession of our house on October 23rd, after three nights in two hotels. Our things weren’t scheduled to arrive until Monday so we had all weekend to play around in an empty house. We had so much stuff to move up from Vancouver that I’m still not sure where it all came from. Tsunami didn’t even come up with us!
After a few days of sleeping in bags on the floor, painting a few rooms (turning one from a dark dungeon to some place guests would want to sleep, and adding a pink accent wall to Stella’s room), exploring our neighborhood, and eating at every restaurant we could, our things finally arrived. The weekend was beautiful, so of course it rained Monday morning when the movers arrived!
And then proceeded to rain and rain and rain through most of November and December. El Nino is hitting hard and making it rain. Everyone I have talked to says that this much rain isn’t normal, but that hasn’t made it any easier to transition to. We had a few weeks without a dog and were able to get out when ever we wanted, or stay inside if the weather was bad, but once she got up we had to start getting her out every day, and that’s when things got rough. Have you ever taken an excited dog and two toddlers for a walk in the rain? It starts out fun, with a lot of puddle jumping, but it dissolves quickly into tears because pants are wet or hands are cold or, something. I didn’t have any friends, the kids didn’t have any friends, and it was always raining and cold. I missed Hawaii. I missed our friends. After listening to screaming children every time I went upstairs, I even missed our tiny apartment where I was always 10 steps away from the kids. Even harder to deal with than the rain, though, was the dark. Hawaii has a pretty even 12 hours of light every day, year round. As the dark started rolling in, I’d think Oh, cool. I’ll start dinner and have a glass of wine and Wes will be home soon only to look at the clock and realize that it was only 3 o’clock. Those were rough nights. I don’t recommend moving from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest in the middle of the darkest time of the year.
But then Stella started school and we gradually got our things put away and pictures hung. I started running in the rain and tried to time it so that one of the kids was asleep and not whining. I tried to cut myself some slack on cooking and cleaning and, really, everything. Some days we watch a lot of movies and some days we do all the activities. And that’s good enough for me.
The kids have seen snow a few times now and love to go outside and play in it for a few minutes before they’re too cold. Tsunami still hates the rain and cold but we finally decided to try to leave her inside and she didn’t destroy anything! We hope that in the summer she’ll be back to loving the grass and backyard, but for now it’s a little too cold for this Hawaii dog and she gets to enjoy the house while we’re gone.
We have trails and a few ponds near our house and it’s mostly easy to get out there for walk. The kids love to splash in puddles, or crack the ice, or just watch ducks. Tsunami loves to run around just exploring it all. It’s amazing how much energy she has now that it’s not so hot every day. Our backyard doesn’t get a lot of sun so we don’t spend too much time out there. James loves it but I’m having a hard time keeping warm! But the time we have spent out there has been great. The kids helping Wes mow the lawn, or building snowmen, or climbing on the retaining wall and jumping down. And did I mention that we have a hot tub? Yes, that’s been nice.
I’m slowly starting to make friends and when I start to miss the beach, I remind myself of all the times I saw pictures of kids dressed in snowsuits playing in the snow, or hiking, and felt jealous that my kids hadn’t had a chance to do that. This summer there will be plenty of time to enjoy the sun. For now, it’s time to bundle up and enjoy the cold.