I want to say Hawaii changed me, but that wouldn’t be accurate. When you brought me to the island you gave me one of the greatest gifts a human being can ever receive, which is to know thyself. I revisited my roots when I stepped foot on that Tarmac. The smell of the salt water and the weight of humidity in the air blanketed my body in a nostalgic familiarity of home that my mind had nearly forgotten. It forced me to face a part of myself I had buried a long time ago and feelings I had never allowed myself to process came crashing in. I finally grieved the loss of leaving Okinawa so unexpectedly as a young girl, a loss that had left me fragile and fragmented well into adulthood. The part of me that I had tried to bury, the tropical, sun loving, ocean craving, care free, little girl came back to me. She welcomed me with open arms, and together we wept at the seashore. So you see, Hawaii didn’t change me, Hawaii returned me.