I was 19 the first time I packed up my stuff and left home. It was a month after my 18th birthday, and it was a moment I had dreamt about for years. I was going to be flying over an ocean for over 6 hours to my new home. It was going to be a blank slate, uncharted territory, and a new adventure.
I knew for the first time that I wanted to leave home around 15 years old. I read books and read blogs about people who lived in vans and traveled across the Americas, back packed from one country to the next, took up part time jobs for months at a time so they could jump around from state to state. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted a nomadic life style, a little bit against the grain, by damn I wanted to be an adventurer.
A few close friends of mine knew about these dreams for years, and sometimes tried to throw the typical arguments around in the air. ‘What about school? A van isn’t a real house. You need a career. Why not do it for just a Summer?” I told them my aspirations not for approval but I guess to make it sound a little more real, to actually express these thoughts past the inner workings of my mind. That’s when I started my bucket list journal, that thing wasn’t going to detest my wild ideas.
Now something I want to clear from the get-go, I did not want to leave because I didn’t love my family. I LOVE my family, and frankly I am surrounded by very life-loving family members. I think watching them sometimes not really reach for their aspirations is what really pushed me on some days to make the decision for myself to just do it.
I come from very hard working parents, both of whom love a good time away from “real life” every once in while. But they find their escapes in very different ways. My mom finds her escapes by driving to different cities, enjoying coffee by the beach, and just spending a little bit of time away from home. My dad works harder than practically anyone else I know, working sometimes 16 hour days, his get aways are sometimes as simple as reading a book in his chair accompanied by the cat, or a week out at the sand dunes where he can ride for hours over 30 miles away from the nearest town. So as you see, it’s not like I came from a boring, do nothing family, it was just that my escapes include living life that is a little different.
One day during my first year of college, I decided I was running away. Not in the sense that I wasn’t telling anyone where I was going, but I needed an escape from my long commutes and my crappy part-time waitress job. I loved reading and working hard, I loved my family, but I needed to reorganize my life style. I wanted to instead of revolving my life around work and school, I wanted them to revolve what I loved the most, the outdoors and all it has to offer. That’s the day I applied for the University Of Hawai’i at Manoa, and took that first step to another life.
I didn’t find out for a few months that I got accepted, but when I did, I didn’t tell anyone. I was changing the course of my life, and that was both scary at satisfying at the same time! I decided to tell them in a very Ashlyn way, by surprising them 😉 You can watch the video here.
I had done it. I had successfully ran away, without dropping out & without being homeless. The feeling that I had the moment I stepped off the plane and onto Hawaiian land is a feeling that I do not believe can ever be replicated. I had left California to challenge myself to really chase after the lifestyle that I wanted to embrace, and to do it by myself. This venture was to test to see if I could really do it. I got to live there for 9 months before I had to head back temporarily. It had been my choice to go home (in a way), but it didn’t last long. A year later I found my self packing boxes yet again to move back to Hawai’i. I have now been living in the islands for two consecutive years. As my Uber driver said the other day
“This place, this island, it just gives me a feeling. You feel it no where else. But here, Hawai’i it gets in your body, makes you younger…”
Hawai’i is not my final destination, I know that much. It is more of my initial launch. Moving to a different state gives me a bit of a high, one that can not be brought on synthetically. I can tell now after living in Hawai’i that I have the ability to start somewhere new, and truly fall in love with it as much as the place I grew up. Now that I have lived here for this long, I can slowly sense that itch to move again- I just have to find that next destination.