Mai Tai wishes and coconut dreams…

Sunset on Poipu Beach, 12.27.08

I curled up with the latest issue of Sunset over the weekend. My husband had already peeked through the magazine and peppered me with "must reads," one of which included a first-person essay called "Travel as tonic" by writer Susan Casey.

Casey visited the island of Maui shortly after her father passed away. Instead of returning home to New York City, she ended up staying in Hawaii. She writes:

"Maybe this is what it all comes down to, all of our wanderings, everything we've set off to see, or do, or find. Maybe travel is as much an interior journey as it is a literal voyage. And it that's true, what we're after is far more than a bunch of snapshots. What we're searching for, really, are ideas about how we want to live."

When we traveled to Kauai for our holiday vacation, my sister and her family were in a small fishing village in Mexico. Upon our return, we spoke at length about how our trips impacted our respective worlds. "Charlene," she said, her tone full of big-sister authority, "these experiences…they were life changing."

Travel, whether it be short distances or across the globe, always has the possibility to unlock hidden doors and windows of your heart and soul. To give you a better understanding of yourself. Or as Casey says (and much more eloquently), travel gives you "ideas about how you want to live."

Yes, my sister was right. Kauai was life changing and when I say that I would like to make Hawaii home, this is not trite. One cannot deny the blissful lifestyle that you quickly succumb to in the tropics. However, Kauai was a time of clarity, focus and confirmation. It fueled a creative process that has driven my days since we arrived home.

We are all eager to return to Kauai, to eat shave ice every day, ride boogie boards and adore warm, balmy weather. We are excited to check out other islands. Yet we have more destinations to explore. (Next up: a return to Italy.)

In my mind, after reading Casey's essay, I now think of our future travel plans — from day outings to weekend road trips and international journeys — as ideas simply waiting for us to arrive. More clues and puzzle pieces for us to discover and uncover as a family, and as individuals. And as parents, we get to witness the awe-inspired moments and adventures of our children. We wonder what ideas they glean about how they want to live. It's breathtaking, really.

But still, my husband asking me to read Casey's article in Sunset magazine made my heart twirl in circles; I have Mai Tai wishes and coconut dreams. Even better? I think he does too.

It's really good to believe in "someday."

Since I'm in the mood to re-live Kauai,  next week I'll be posting a round up of our favorites and tips for traveling around the island.


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