Hawaii was a surprise in so many ways. When the news came we were in the thick of winter and new parenthood. A week on a tropical island seemed like the least likely thing in the world.
And then there it was. A big award for my husband. An all expense paid trip to Kauai. Grandparents who jumped at the idea of a week to themselves with the Little Man. Leis and liquor and a stay at a fancy resort. Six months after having a baby I bought my first bikini in a decade and we prepared ourselves for paradise.
This isn’t how we typically travel. We spend countless nights away from home each year but mostly those are spent curled up in our tent on hard ground under big western skies. We rely on down bags and furry dogs to keep us warm and if we get lazy we’ll venture into the nearest town for beer and pizza. If we really want to splurge we’ll spring for a cheap hotel room. We are dirtbag campers out of both necessity and choice.
We walked into the Hyatt’s big, open air, lobby and were promptly handed a mai tai. We headed to the big terrace overlooking Shipwreck Beach and the ocean beyond. We didn’t say a whole lot. Mostly we just shook our heads and toasted to the bizarre set of circumstances that got us to a swanky resort on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific during the biggest year of upheaval of our lives.
It was all very posh, very easy. And it came at just the right time. Colorado was in the midst of an endlessly snowy spring and we were emerging from those first six whirlwind months of parenthood.
It wasn’t all fruit drinks and lounging on the beach, of course. I thrive on activity and adventure and we got in plenty of that as well. We hiked to waterfalls and snorkeled in lagoons with swarms of rainbow colored fish. We kayaked up a river and walked through the jungle. We saw whales and sea turtles and one very lazy monk seal but despite all that the thing that stands out in my mind the most is what it felt like to be pampered and relaxed and so incredibly drenched in sunshine.
We returned home to the reality of jobs and childcare and a winter that was still not ready to give up the ghost. I would never want all of our days to be like those; the bits of grit and discomfort in life are what makes it feel real, authentic. I choose to do hard things and forgo some comforts because that is how I like to live. I don’t want to be too soft … but seeing the other side was good too. I still trot those memories out on a regular basis when I need to remember what it feels like to have the sun on my shoulders and nowhere important to be.