Paddling Toward Home

Military Family relocated to Hawaii looking to find a sense of home after a Military Move

Written By Elizabeth Bosse | Photography by Annie Louise Wilkins 


“Hey,” she says, showing him her phone. “This place just posted stand-up paddle boards for sale in Haleiwa.” 

He looks at her with big eyes and a slow grin forms. “When should we go look?” He asks.

“Let’s go after we pick up Harper from school. It’s the start of a long weekend,” she says. The wife is anxious to feel settled in as they continue to await the arrival of their furniture. It has been a long four months without their stuff and she is ready to dig some roots. 

After school pick-up, the family hits the road toward Haleiwa. The day is beautiful and it is still early since the school was released at 2:10 p.m. The family drives with the windows down and music plays loudly as they take in the fresh air and scenery. They make their way up and over to the other side of the island. They marvel at the different landscapes they drive through, commenting in certain places on how it feels like the middle of nowhere. As they pull up to the shop and unload from the car, the anticipation of possible adventure tingles in the air. 

The paddle boards are housed in their own room and are lined up in rows. The floor is covered in sand and sawdust. Harper immediately squats down to play with the sand. There is a combination of salty ocean and wood scent filling the air. It is a sight to see the beauty and power of all these boards filling up all the empty spaces. The manager talks to the family. He tells them about the different types. There are carbon fiber, turbo, plastic, used, and brand new boards still resting in their boxes. 

The husband and wife eye each other to see what the other is thinking. She says “that white and gray one is amazing! There is plenty of room for Harper to sit on the end with me.” 

He gives her a side eye and turns to face a carbon fiber board and gently runs his hands on it. “I’d like to be able to attempt to surf and paddle on a board,” he says to the manager of the store. 

“This carbon fiber one will give you just that, but it looks like your wife is falling for the white turbo board,” the manager says.  The husband again looks at his wife a little slyly. The manager pulls both boards out and sets them up on saw horses for the family to better examine. 

The wife asks the manager about any deals happening at the moment. Unfortunately, neither board they like is part of the sale.  “Naturally,” the wife mutters to herself. The manager and husband talk about the details of the carbon fiber board while the wife runs her hands up and down the white turbo board, picking it up to test its weight, falling more in love with it with each touch. The manager offers the family special tape that will protect the edges of the carbon fiber board from the rowing of the paddle and other upgrades if they purchase the turbo board. 

The wife scrunches up her nose thinking. She moves between the two boards and ponders their fun savings. She can just picture it. She and Harper could spot turtles as they glide along the Anahula River with her husband next to them. These boards feel like the answer to the question: do they belong in this new place? Can Hawaii be home?

She looks up at her husband and says “What if we just buy them both and then we are both happy?” 

His eyes grow big and he runs his hand through his hair, thinking. He looks at her and brings his fingers to his mouth, clearly trying to cover the smile that is creeping up, and he says “seriously?” 

“Why not?” She asks. 

After their new boards have been purchased, they learn how to load the boards and strap them to the roof of their car. Once the boards are secure the family piles back into the car. The husband leans out the window with a grin on his face while looking up at their new boards and says, “I feel like we’ve finally arrived. We are living the island life now.”

Words by Elizabeth Bosse @elizabeth.bosse

Photography by Annie Louise Wilkins @annielouisewilkins

Author Behind the Legacy Essay 

Elizabeth Bosse is a yoga teacher, reiki master and teacher, and writer. As the creator of the blog Wellness Wilderness With Elizabeth she is building a program to take wellness on the move. As a military spouse of 15 years and mother of a young daughter, Elizabeth has had a lot of practice maintaining wellness through changing circumstances, developing her philosophy through 9 moves (5 of which were overseas), two deployments and 1 evacuation.

She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys running, swimming, reading, practicing and teaching yoga, writing and traveling.

This piece was originally crafted in The Work of Words writing workshop. Within the course you'll discover how to string words together with creativity and discernment in a creative non-fiction framework.

The next session takes place this Fall|Winter 2022. To be the first to know of the upcoming workshop and learn more of the details, click here to join our waitlist. 

Turning the Page

Moving a whole house and family to a different duty station takes some preparation! Not to worry though, if you have a military move on the horizon, here are "Ten Tips to Moving" by military child, Charlie Anderson, age 11. 
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