It's so strange.
It's December 3rd, and I'm in shorts and a t-shirt.
Remnants of our picnic lunch eaten under a ginormous ficus tree, it's roots meandering like thick veins over the garden grounds, cling to my sweaty hands.
Cat hairs plaster my t-shirt, even though my cats are all 3460 miles away.
Tropical birds I can't yet identify chirp from the foliage of trees I also can't yet identify.
Where am I? Is this a dream?
Will I wake up at any moment, huddled under my down comforter, dressed from head to toe in fleece, afraid to get out of bed and step onto the 58 degree floor in a sprint to the bathroom where a space heater and closed bathroom door will offer a few minutes of warm comfort, long enough to dress and brush my teeth?
Because this dream of living in a tropical paradise, avoiding the bitter Midwest winter back home, isn't a dream.
We have been on the Big Island of Hawaii for a mere 48 hours, but it feels as though we have stepped into another world, another dimension, entirely.
Nothing about this place, save for vehicles and humans, is familiar to us.
Not the jungleish flora (coffee and macadamia nut trees?) or fauna (lizard or gecko?), nor the architecture (California mission?), nor the names of streets and places (Queen Kaahumanu Highway).
Not the steep, impossibly winding, shoulderless roads, often devoid of street signs, that test the tenacity of even the strongest of stomachs.
And yet... I am at peace here.
Not in the way someone is at peace when they come home to the place where they have laid down roots as strong and thick as the ficus tree. For we are transients - not born here, and not here to stay.
But rather, the peace that comes after a long, hard toil to achieve something that seemed just out of reach for a long, long time.
The peace that comes from following one's own dreams in spite of all of the obstacles that rise up against them.
The peace that comes from walking in the surf of the largest ocean in the world, being reminded that we are but one small speck on this brilliant blue marble we call Earth.
Aloha my friends - Peace be with you all.