The Unthinkable
June 26, 2011
The word is out. There are rumors afloat that my Lovely Bride and I are moving back to California. Since the word is officially out, I'd like you to hear it from the source. That would be me.
Over the last eighteen years of our wonderful lives in Hawaii, I cannot tell you the number of people who have told us, "We're moving back to the mainland," and the reason given was almost always about being closer to kids and grandkids. Our take on that has always been that hey, we have kids and grandkids, and there's no way we would move back into their crazy world just to be closer to them. We've worked for many years to finally realize our dream of living in Hawaii, this is where we want to be. The big-city lifestyles that our kids all seem to prefer is so far out of our comfort zones that moving back into that world is just not an option. Never will be. Let the kids and grandkids come to us, as we did when we were young.
When we were young parents, our parents were "old," set in their ways, comfortable where they were, and distinctly uncomfortable in our environs in general and in our lifestyles in particular. So we piled our kids into the car and drove the 500 miles to go see Gramma & Grampa every few months. We would spend a few days of quality time with them and then we'd be back to our lives again and they to theirs. It was all good.
So here we are, happily ensconced in our dream home in the beautiful hills of Hilo, all of our kids live near San Francisco, we never get to see them unless we go over there, and we're now looking that same scenario right smack in the face.

We live in an awesome circa-1948 Hawaiian-style home with an ocean view from our lanai, and from there we can also see the very top of sacred Mauna Kea. We have a gorgeous, crystal-clear and year 'round stream running through our 3/4 acre tropical backyard, and our 3200-foot-home has a perfect guest suite for family. We bought this meticulously restored home some five years ago, planning on having our kids and grandkids over any time they wanted, for as long as they wanted. All it would cost them is airfare for a Hawaii vacation with 24/7 pampering.
Not happening.

The rest of the story . . .

In the last five years of living in this great family home, two of our kids have been here for one short visit each. Our kids are so busy that it's nearly impossible for them to have even two consecutive days of leisure. Their kids are involved in baseball, soccer, basketball, dance, gymnastics, theater, horseback riding, swimming, and any number of other activities that they seem to "need" to keep them fully entertained for every waking moment.
It's all so very different from when we were kids, or even from when our kids were little. In those joyous and peaceful times, kids played close to home, invented their own games, were creative and didn't require full-time external stimuli from numerous, simultaneous venues, electronic and otherwise. In those days it wasn't necessary (or even thought of) to enroll kids in several sports and athletic programs so that a nanny had to be hired for their complex transportation needs.

But that's all beside the point. The point is that our kids are too busy to come to Hawaii. Ever. And get this: of all the bezillions of people who would give anything for even a short vacation in Hawaii, none of our kids even likes it here! They are all way more comfortable surrounded by miles of suburbs and shopping malls. It's like "What is there to DO over there?!" HELLO!!

So where is all this going? You've probably already guessed it: The Unthinkable. We are planning on moving back to the mainland so we can be closer to our kids. No, make that our grandkids. They're all growing up so fast that seeing them once or twice a year just isn't working anymore. Also, although we have mastered the art of affordable living in Hawaii, numerous round trips to the mainland every year is a real financial stretch for us. The fares are getting ever higher and will not likely ever come back down. Each trip is an ordeal for us, since going from the Big Island to the West Coast is a full, long day of traveling and dealing with airports, security hassles, being squashed into those flying sardine-cans for many hours, rental cars, shuttles, and expensive hotels near the airports since our flights seem to always begin and end very early or late. And living out of rental cars and bags is not fun for us, either. We're also not getting any younger, what with having kids in their '40s!

Some decisions are exceedingly painful to make, and take many months of soul searching to even get close. Such is the case with our decision to move back to the mainland. It hurts to think about leaving the peaceful, laid-back lifestyle here, our friends, that awesome 80-degree ocean to play in, the year 'round wonderful weather, the many meaningful cultural events, the to-us very comfortable cultural environs in which everybody is a minority, and of course, the aloha. The thought of leaving behind our beloved Hilo Town is painful.

We've tossed this around for over a year now, and it has come to this: Our home here is listed for sale, and when it sells, we're on our way across the ocean. We did decide that the only way we would make this extreme sacrifice is if we could find a place where we could have peace. That meant in a deep forest, near the ocean, and away from any city. But it had to be close enough to our kids to be an easy drive of not over two hours. Our kids all live in and around the SF Bay Area, so our target area was the Sonoma County Redwood forests west of Santa Rosa. After about a dozen trips over there, we zeroed in on the tiny village of Forestville, California. We're looking for a nice, old, cabin-like house with a view, and we'll find it.

We'll have our four kids and our five grandkids (and another due in a month as of this writing) nearby enough to be able to see them whenever we choose but not so near that we'll get called in for daily soccer-mom shuttle service when the nanny doesn't show up. And we'll be in the forest, close to the (cold) ocean, and we've spent enough time there now to know that the folks are good neighbors who understand the concept of living aloha.
It's hard for me to even write this, and the real impact of it has not hit yet, nor will it until a buyer for our home here materializes. That's when it will all become real.
But wait; there's more! (As they say.) Here's a mini-update to this update: We have planned a very-soon one month trial session in Forestville. During that month we will test the proximity-to-kids dynamic. It has to work out well; there will have to be some effort on the parts of our kids to share time in both directions, and above all else, there will need to be some genuine enthusiasm from everyone involved to make this fly. If we leave our little trial period there with anything less than overwhelming enthusiasm for our new station in life, we will happily stay in Hawaii. We'll still sell our beautiful large home and downsize to something more appropriate for two grandparents who will only see their grandkids when they wish to spend the necessary resources to get to the mainland. And those resources will become less and less available as the years go by. We are so hoping that this will all work out to bring our ohana closer together.

In an upcoming post, I will address what we would miss by leaving our beloved Hawaii, and what little we would not.

Stay tuned!

With abundant aloha always,

Skip & Camille
After years of running the Affordable Paradise Blog, I've decided to put it on hold for now. You're always welcome to email me with your comments and questions!
We wish you all the best, and never forget to
Please Live Aloha!
Mahalo for "listening."
Skip Thomsen & Ohana
Updated 2/4/2011