It was mine several decades ago. And I have never regretted making the move back.
My friend Sarah came back home to Maui to live just recently, and I was interested in how and why she made her way back.
She's one of the lucky ones. Many of our young people leave Maui to "see the world" and find it difficult to move back for one reason or another. The high cost of living and scarcity of job opportunities are at the top of the list of obstacles.
Sarah grew up local on Maui, the youngest of seven children. She notes that she was always referred to in relationship to her family.
"Aimee's little sister, Emily's daughter. That's how it is on Maui," Sarah muses.
She attended Kihei Elementary,
Sarah's on the far left, 3rd row, next to the boy with his hand on his hip.
and reading was her passion.
The bookmobile was a lifeline for many local kids.
Sarah attended Seabury Hall, and graduated with the school's top honor, the Faculty Merit Award.
And off she went to college.
Sarah didn't go far, right away that is. She received her BA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a dual major in Communications and Political Science. She liked the program there, and her college experience inspired her to go into international relations. She received her Masters Degree in Public Communications from The American University in Washington, DC.
Sarah worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, DC for six years, ending in the marketing department.
"I went through 7 directors, and 3 presidents," Sarah laughs.
When her term of duty was over (she stayed an extra year after her 5-year tour was up), Sarah moved to Portland, Oregon in 1996, where she worked in communications. She felt honored to serve as Director of Communications for Portland Mayor Vera Katz from 2001-2004.
Sarah has won multiple awards for her work in communications.
Why did Sarah return to Maui?
"Family," Sarah declares emphatically. Four out of her seven siblings live in Hawaii, and she wants to be close to her mom Emily, who lives on Maui.
How hard was it coming back?
One of the big questions was how Sarah's husband would take to such a big move. Luckily, Sarah relates, Kelly Ray loves it here and has already made friends, including some golf buddies. So that has made all the difference.
As Sarah was getting on that final plane to come to Maui after all the arrangements had been made, she had a panic attack.
"It hit me. I was uprooting 25 years of my life that I had built on the mainland. I was paralyzed. I couldn't get on that plane."
Luckily for us. Sarah's panic passed and she boarded that plane.
Sarah's enjoying her spot in Haiku, on a property filled with avocado, lilikoi, oranges and guava. She awaits the arrival of her hubby, who's wrapping things up in Oregon. She's also anxious to see her beloved animals again.
(One sad note is that Sarah just learned of the passing of her dear cat Otis, in Portland.)
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Sarah and her mom Emily
Yes, family is Sarah's main reason for returning to Maui. But she also wants to make a difference here.