Being back on the island feels like being home… but this time just feels… bittersweet. I can’t really explain why.
As soon as we landed, I got my rental car. Then we all got some Saimen before hitting up Costco.
Originally my plan was to just get a room at the Sheraton, especially since this was such a last minute trip. I actually prefer staying in a hotel rather than with my family… since it’s just easier to do my own thing. But my family threw a fit at the idea.
So I’m staying with one of my favorite way older cousins on the south side, Johnny. He’s my parents age and one of my favorite first cousins, we always have a blast. I bought Johnny’s favorite beer and tequila in bulk at Costco. Then I also grabbed one of my uncles favorite beer as well- knowing I need to swing by the west side in a day or two. If you know me at all, you know booze is my go to gift… and here it’s practically currency.
Kaileaha and I got hot dogs together while Tots finished up grocery shopping. When it came time to leave, Kaileaha cried and wrapped herself around me- asking me not to leave. Even though I’m only going to be on the other side of the island, being separated felt devastating to her and she sobbed deeply into my chest.
Everything about this kid melts me. Can I just steal her? I adore her. She told me she didn’t want to go back to school. We practiced how to reply to the bullies again. I kissed her all over her face and told her what a beautiful girl she was, but my favorite thing about her was her heart. Then she said our goodbyes and I promised to visit in a few days. When they pulled away, she was crying… which broke my heart.
I drove to Poipu and showed up on Johnnys door dragging a box of his favorite beer. “This is why you’re my favorite niece!!” He exclaimed when he opened the door. “I’m not even your niece, but I’m telling Tots that I kicked her out of her first place!” I teased back.
Johnny helped bring in my luggage which was alllllll Trader Joe’s food for the family and we unpacked it all onto his dining room table so his wife could get first pick before the rest of the family stopped by later.
I was practically bouncing off the walls with excitement so we jumped into my convertible to go see my house. Johnny insisted on driving. Mostly because he has a soft spot for manuals with a V8. A mutual love we both have. But also because just as we pulled up to the house he made me cover my eyes so I’d be surprised by the full effect.
He made me wait until he parks the car and let’s me out, guides me to a spot in the middle of the street while I sass him. “Is this the part where you push me into oncoming traffic? Oh my god, am I on ‘Fixer Upper’? Did you let Chip and Johanna design my house?” I can hear him rolling his eyes, then he finally says “okay… now!”. I opened up my eyes… and my house is a beauty. Everything I dreamed of and more.
The paint came out exactly how I envisioned. The garage door… the driveway… I was floored. Then we went inside and…. god it was just stunning.
It had been months and months of random samples. Worrying about how they’d all go together… but now seeing it all together, it was perfect. Even Davide’s last minute addition of a wet bar turned out pretty awesome. But here it is… my house.
I’m not really a settling down, putting down a ton of roots kind of girl. My family moved around a lot as a kid, and I kinda feel like home is more of a feeling than an actual place. I bought this house on a whim earlier this summer. Johnny is incredibly gifted when it comes to real estate… and he found this deal. He thought it’d be perfect for me and somehow after many old fashions convinced me to do it.
At the time I was still pretty heartbroken. I was trying to figure out what my future was. And making Kauai somewhat of a home… it made sense to my heart. I figured worse case scenario, it’d be a great distraction and then I could always sell it?
There were a few little things that needed to be fixed… but nothing too major. I found myself not wanting to leave.
“I think I’m going to go buy an air mattress and crash on the floor here. No way am I leaving! This shower is ridiculous.” I told Johnny
“Don’t do dare! If you do that, L (his wife) will have a fit and I’ll never hear the end of it. She’s sick of me and was looking forward to having you stay with us.” He said
“Yeah, but that’s because when I’m over you can’t run around naked scaring the neighbors.” I retorted.
“THAT WAS ONE TIME!” he said exasperated but laughing.
I love teasing him. I gave him a huge hug and thanked him for everything – finding the place and helping manage the crew. Then told him I’m taking them out for dinner.
L was home by the time we got back. Johnny made us some drinks and then L and I caught back up. Mostly we just chatted about Chicky, her daughter who is also one of my best friends.
Then we went online and L helped me pick out my new bed (I was undecided between two) and a purple mattress for the new house. When she wasn’t looking, I ordered one for her and Johnny too. For all of their help with everything. They’ve been talking about getting a new mattress for the guest room anyways… so I figured it’d be a nice surprise.
Well that and I have to make sure I keep my Favorite Niece title even though I’m not a niece… and buying someone’s favorite beer can only get you so far.
I met up with a few of my young cousins who just turned 21 to grab a drink and catch up. They told me about work and we joked around a lot. We ended up at the beach, sitting in the sand and staring out at the ocean. They ask a lot about Davide and the trip we’re planning to Europe. I smile. But, I just feel… so mentally far away. I tell myself it’s the jet lag, but I know it’s not.
I finally make it back to the South side just in time to take Johnny and L out to dinner.
Sometimes I wonder if this is the kind of relationship that most people have with their parents. Easy conversation at dinner. Laughing. Planning. Johnny teasing me about my “Italian mail order bride”. He sometimes puts on his serious face and gives me “fatherly advice”.
“So what’s new with you and the mail order bride?” He asks referring to Davide.
I told them all about our trip to Big Sur. Showed L pictures of our tent. She goes on and on about how romantic he is. Then Johnny cuts in with, “So are you two moving here?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. I haven’t officially decided. A lot of it depends on his visa. We finally scheduled our interview appointment.”
“Are you happy?” Johnny asks, sliding into his serious father face.
“Yeah. He’s a great guy.” I reply
“Yeahhh he’s a great guy…” and his voice trails off.
“But?” I ask.
L whacks him and says “Johnny leave the poor girl alone. Davide is hot and Italian. He’s so attentive. I love how he always buys you flowers!” She says starting to gush.
“Oh well as long as he buys her flowers!” he says rolling his eyes. I smirk. Johnny is one of my favorite people, because he is kind, hilarious, driven… but also no bullshit. It’s the best combination in the world.
I lean across the table. “Okay Johnny, lay it on me. I want to know what you really think of Davide. Don’t hold back.”
“He’s a pansy. You can do better.” Johnny declares.
“Johnny!!!” L exclaims and whacks his arm.
I laugh and then Johnny goes on a long rant about how Davide wore this shirt that was SO preppy and gay. Or when Davide joined the hunting trip with the guys, Johnny found him be kinda whiny. He isn’t driven enough. And then leans across the table, lowers his voice and seriously says, “He held L’s purse for her.”
I burst out laughing. “YOU held my purse once!” I replied.
“Once!! And that was DIFFERENT! Only thing in your purse was a whiskey bottle. I did it for the alcohol. This was different. He did it because he liked it!! He didn’t even try to give it back to her.” he cries back
At this point L and I were crying laughing at the ridiculousness, “Okay… that part was kinda weird.” L finally agreed.
“And why the hell does he keep calling me to see how you’re doing and what we’re up to. You have a phone. Why is he checking with me? Like I’m your keeper or something. Does he not trust you?”
I nodded my head at that one, he had a point there. Davide was feeling insecure about me being back on Kauai without him. But it didn’t make a ton of sense for both of us to come… and something I didn’t tell him was that I needed a mental break. Big Sur was great… it just… was overwhelming. Our life is so fast paced right now, I just wanted a minute to myself to get centered.
Finally Johnny finished it all with, “Look Mon, I love you like a daughter. You are incredible. You could have anyone you want. ANYONE. If he’s your soulmate and is going to make you happy for the rest of your life… I’ll support you. I just think you deserve more. That’s all I’m sayin’. But it’s your decision and I won’t bring it up again.”
Johnny didn’t know it… but his words landed on a sore spot. I can’t have anyone I want… my mind instantly drifted to Nate. I gave Johnny a pained smile. “Thanks Johnny, really. I’m glad you said all of that. I needed to hear it.”
L broke the silence with, “Dusty called me today.”
“Dusty?? What did he want?” I asked.
“The usual. Only calls when you’re in town, wants to know what we have planned.”
“Do you drug these guys with some kind of love potion?” Johnny asked with a snicker. I rolled my eyes.
“He’s a good guy. At least he’s driven! Why didn’t you guys work out again?” L asked.
I had explained this to my family multiple times, ever since we broke up. I only dated him for several months. So I just smiled.
“He was nice. He just wasn’t it. I was bored.” which is the truth. I loved how driven he was… loved how we pushed each other physically. But he just hasn’t given up… and I feel bad about that. Like I broke him.
“Sooo when is the wedding?” L asked.
“Davide was thinking June. Here on Kauai. But keeping it super small.” I said then gulped down the rest of my drink, not wanting to think about it. Not wanting to think about how close I was to getting married back in January.
Back at the house Johnny made us more drinks. The rest of the family stopped by, mostly to grab all the Trader Joes I brought. But everyone has work the next morning, so they left early.
Johnny and I stayed up late doing tequila shots. My stomach was in knots as we laughed and joked around. I felt stressed. I kept replying the conversation about Davide over and over in my head. He’s an amazing guy… but does Johnny have a point? And my mind kept drifting to Nate.