Top 3 Things I Miss About Living in Hawaii
I was very fortunate to live in Hawaii for 8 years –– from 1994 to 1998 and then again from 2000 to 2004. I loved many things about living in Hawaii, but these are the top 3.
It's Like Living in Another Country
When anyone asks me about my time in Hawaii –– I usually tell them that it was like living in another country but with the familiar comforts of the United States. You get to enjoy all the uniqueness and wonder that comes from living in a foreign place without having to worry about things like currency exchange or a language barrier.
Kualoa Beach Park, Hawaii
I definitely experienced some culture shock when I first arrived. I'm your typical American white male, born and raised in the Midwest. Before I moved to Hawaii at age 19, the only time I had been out of Missouri was on a family vacation to Florida at 16.
Hawaii has a culture that is uniquely its own and that is very distinct from the rest of the United States. It's a multi-cultural melting pot, with a diverse demographic make-up that no other state even comes close to matching.
Me at Bellows Beach, Hawaii in 1995
The food is different, the way people interact with one another is different, and the aloha spirit is unlike anything you'll experience in the rest of the country. Oh, and like many foreign countries, you can get McDonald's menu items that are unique to the local palate –– in Hawaii it's spam, eggs and rice!
Spam, Eggs, & Rice at McDonalds in Hawaii
I have dreamt about plate lunches at least once a month since leaving Hawaii in 2003. There is just something about the way local Hawaiian restaurants combine perfectly cooked sticky rice, mac salad and a protein that no one outside of Hawaii can seem to replicate for some reason.
And the poke....with all due respect to all the poke places popping up throughout the mainland, none have been able to give me the poke I enjoyed in Hawaii.
There are so many other great dishes that I miss like lomi-lomi salmon, kailua pork, and laulau –– just to name a few.
Like I mentioned previously, I grew up in the Midwest, so I am very familiar with the hospitality that Midwestern and Southern states are famous for. However, nothing I've experienced compares to the welcoming nature and friendliness I experienced in Hawaii. Locals call it the aloha spirit.
Aloha is not just a greeting, it's a moral code exercised by people that live in Hawaii. The aloha spirit also goes hand in hand with the Hawaiian idea of Ohana (or family). To people that live in Hawaii, Ohana doesn't just refer to traditional family members, it extends to almost everyone that you interact with. The people you worked with, your neighbors, or even the people that you sit next to at your local bar or University of Hawaii football game –– those are your Ohana.
In Hawaii, you are more likely to be treated like family by the people you meet and interact with than anywhere I have ever been. It's what makes the people of Hawaii so special.
I spent the better part of my twenties in Hawaii –– it's where I came of age. I consider Hawaii my home away from home and it will always have a special place in my heart. I really miss living there.
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