Why Hawaii?

@postaday 78; #postaday2011

I have a lot of fond memories of growing up in New Jersey. I enjoy reconnecting with many of my friends through Facebook and Twitter. But when I was 18, I escaped. My parents battled for years and I’d put myself in the middle too often. I needed to break away. That is my perception, and it is different from that of others.

I joined the U.S. Air Force. I think the military is a great option. You get away, yet, you’ve got cover. You make a commitment and Uncle Sam issues you uniforms, linens, shoes, cuts your hair and tells you when to go to bed at night and when to wake up. You learn to walk without bobbing. You learn to walk carrying everything in your left hand to keep your right hand free for saluting. You always wear a hat outdoors, you never wear a hat indoors. You meet people from all over the country, and once  you get to your base, you learn about the area.

After basic training and tech school in Texas where I was trained to be a computer operator, I got stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave Desert. The biggest beach in the world, if you ask me. I was enchanted. Joshua trees, giant jack rabbits, Mojave Green snakes, and dry lake beds that looked like calm and endless seas when the rain filled them in the winter.  Edwards was a test base and I got to watch and learn as new aircraft were tested, including the first Space Shuttle. I got up close and personal with a B-1 bomber, and I often witnessed the stealthy arrival of the SR-71 from Palmdale. Must have taken all of seven minutes.

I grew tired of the desert and put in for an assignment anywhere in the world. I was on several lists, and third to come to Hawaii, and I ended up being stationed at Hickam AFB.

When I got here July 14, 1981, I was put in the women’s dorm. It was different. People here had a life beyond the base. Within a matter of months, I, too, lived off base because of the shortage of on-base quarters. So the USAF career for me became more of a job than a lifestyle. I took theBus from Kapahulu to Hickam AFB to put in my eight hours. I’d go home and surf. I acclimated well to Hawaii.

I knew a lot of people in the military who didn’t like being stationed here. You either do or you don’t. I did. I got out and stayed. I appreciated having Uncle Sam for as long as I did, but when I got out, there was a strong support system and a job working on the exact same computers on the civilian side.

My military experience gives me a perspective of existing in what I like to refer to as parallel universes. Some in the military prefer to stay with Uncle Sam. They should. It’s safe. It might put you in harm’s way, but your mind is trained to be a defender.

I’ve been lucky to live in Hawaii, and I relish each day here. Would I ever move back to New Jersey? I don’t think so. I’ve lived here 30 years. I lived there 18 years. I became part of a great family. I am raising a family, I enjoy my work, I have surfed, supped, swam, snorkeled and fished. I eat sushi, laulau, poi and pipikala. I lose my voice cheering on the University of Hawaii volleyball teams. I can ride my bicycle just about every day I want because the weather often cooperates. And I have made lots of friends. When I first came to Hawaii, kind people enveloped me with the Aloha Spirit, and for the most part this haole girl has felt quite at home.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me.