Weaning off milk

We’re moving to Hawaii. Big Island, green side we think (the one where it rains every day — but oh so lush). From metro Atlanta. The minute our house sells. Or the school year ends. My husband Josh and I have a gentle battle brewing over this.

I’ve never been to Hawaii, or west of Missouri. A few people have said, “Shouldn’t you go there and visit and take a look first?” And I say, “Yes, this is what I’m doing. I just happen to be selling my house and uprooting my family first.” This way, it’s just the one one-way ticket. Duh.

(Plus, don’t you kind of have to visit for longer than a two-week lei-and-luau vacay to get to the heart of the place anyway? So “visiting” — great idea in theory, but if you don’t dig deep into the day-to-day, what’s the point?)

As a newspaper reporter, I lived to “go where the job was.” In fact, it was kind of a status symbol, moving someplace you’d never been to cover news in a strange place. All of us wanted to “go where the job was.” It made us feel important, like serious journalists. Usually we got dumped in Podunk Wherever on a minuscule salary that also required the dogged use of our cars and weird second-shift beats. As long as the place had one watering hole — usually a restaurant that let us hang out as long as we wanted — we were happy. We lived on our bylines.

I’ve moved sight unseen to cover cop beats in primitive Bible belts where the lurid arrest of bare-chested women’s college coeds at the First Topless Bar the Place Had Ever Seen (or Not Seen, as it were) on obscenity charges — straight off the dance floor! — was big news. It was certainly sensational. My editor sent me with a male coworker along with a brown bag of beer — it was bring-your-own — to cover the story. I was covering it. Why I  needed the male escort puzzles me now. Were they afraid I’d lose my wits and get up on the stage and join the heathen dance?

There was another forlorn little county where if you turned your car around at the tiny county jail where you went to collect police reports, you risked backing into a ditch. You’d have to sheepishly go back in and ask the jailer if he could unlock some inmates to pull you out. Not that I ever did that.

These days, I’m a freelance writer and my by-lines are virtual. I write about safe — or is it? — topics like bacon and social smoking. I can do that from the beach. I don’t care if that beach requires a precious, precious piece of real estate to go with it. Considering where I’ve been, it really does sound safer.

The main employment lure for us, however, is Josh’s doing rehab work on promising homes, which seem in large supply in a place where many people seem to move, buy a house, decide rather soon that they want to leave, give up on selling, move on, and try to forget they ever owned a chunk of heaven. Aside from his work for himself, Josh plans to try to find island work doing Anything, to establish some street cred and maybe some credit references. Here he is destroying renovating our kitchen, which we’re redoing for our home sale.


Spray painting cabinets. Our friend Ricky, a professional finisher, is glazing them.


We also have Limited Knowledge (ignore the picture above). Everyone who wants to tell us how much the milk is/bad the schools are/insanely expensive the place is, please read this first:

Stuff We Know

  • The Argument: Milk costs $9 a gallon. Rebuttal: We just won’t drink the milk, OK? Or choose Jif. No precious imports unless necessary. None of us is under 8, so I think we can do that. We’ll start weaning now.
  • It’s hard to find a place to stay, or a house. Rebuttal: No, it’s not.
  • It’s hard to find a place to stay, or a house you can afford. Rebuttal: OK, your point. The weather’s good. We can live under a tarp while we renovate. These yurts look pretty cool, too:

Seriously — HOW cool is this? Southern Family McQueen, right?

We also know:

  • Some native Hawaiians aren’t keen on Caucasians — aka haoles — moving into their space and acting like they own the place. This I get. We’re pretty polite. I don’t particularly feel like apologizing for my existence or my presence everywhere we go for ever and ever, but I will if I have to. For a while. Next.
  • Taking a pet is a pain in the butt. We have two ancient little dogs we hope to preserve through the plane trip by stopping midway to go to Disneyland. We’re trying to absorb the quarantine rules so we can avoid, er, quarantine in Honolulu. We anticipate trouble.
  • It’s going to cost a fortune to move your stuff! What we don’t sell and what was left to us in someone’s will or something, we’re putting in pod storage so we can send for it. Or, we can turn around and flee, and there it’ll be in storage waiting for us.
  • We’ll regret selling our house. No, we won’t. More on that later.

Then there’s the stuff people presume we know, but some of us really didn’t:

Stuff I Learned Looking at an Atlas

Hawaii is not just a little southeast of California, as it looks on the map. It’s in the middle of the freaking Pacific Ocean, and it’s as isolated as you can possibly get. Did you know that? OK, this scared me when I looked at the map and then I realized it’s not a hop-skip from Cali, it’s a freaking 6-hour plane ride. And it’s nearly as close to Japan as it is the continental U.S., which I still find terrifying and intriguing at once. Then the 2016 Presidential Election happened and these concerns mostly evaporated.

It’s still the U.S., though. Pretty clever, eh? Moving to a place that seems like a foreign country — but it isn’t? We don’t need passports. We just need to score some work, not drink the milk and make it.


If you could move anywhere in the world, where would you go?