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How I Left Maui

August 18, 2012

When I was twenty I moved back to Hawaii and built a hut on my parents’ estate in the country. I stayed for two years, and thought it would be forever. Since returning to the mainland I’ve been asked numerous times ‘how could you ever leave?’ and ‘don’t you miss it?’ The answer to the latter question is yes; the answer to the former is too convoluted to be understood by anyone who hasn’t walked in my shoes. What’s more interesting than either question is how I left Maui, and since no one’s ever asked me I think I’ll just come out and tell you.

At the time I was heavily involved with a group of folk from Carbondale, Colorado. They had a community house in Pa’ia town where I felt completely comfortable showing up unannounced and staying the night. I did this often as my hut lacked modern plumbing and refrigeration. In return I’d show them the lesser known pools and hikes around the island. It was a rich time, except that I’d recently been dumped by the girl I’d thought to spend the rest of my life with. So the community was therapeutic as well.

One day I got off work, spent a couple of hours at the beach, and headed for their house. No one was home but I knew where they hid the key, so I let myself in and got comfortable. This involved taking off my shoes and shirt, putting down my keys and wallet, opening a beer, and eating leftovers from lunch. Well, midway through my second beer I was still the only person there, and I was getting tipsy. I looked around in amusement: my stuff was strewn across their house like I lived there: clothes, necessaries, rubbish and recycling all over. From that tipsy place came a strange thought: what if I were to suddenly disappear? What if, say, aliens came out of the sky and abducted me in that moment? What would my friends think when they got home?

Then came the real question: if the aliens gave me a choice to leave everyone and everything behind and go on an adventure into the great unknown, would I take them up on it?

Hell yes.

A second later the phone (a land-line, mind you) rang. So comfortable was I with my position in the household that I answered it without hesitation. It was Dominique, one of the Colorado girls who’d visited some weeks before. We chatted for a while, and then the words came unbidden to my lips: ‘Dominique, are jobs easy to find in Colorado in the winters?’ She assured me they were, especially in Aspen, near Carbondale – in fact I could probably get a job through her friend James, who’d worked at a certain skiing restaurant the year before.

Three weeks later I showed up at James’s parents’ house with $300 to my name and no clue how to ski or snowboard. I got the job. I learned. I injured my ankle irreparably. I salvaged what I could from the season and looked to the future. What next? How could this adventure continue?

The thing most mainlanders don’t understand about Hawaii is how small it is. Most residents don’t hop from island to island. Ostensibly their world is confined by the ocean on all sides. And while there are plenty of adventures to be had on land and in the sea, they’re all of a type. There’s no such thing as a cross country road trip in Hawaii. There’s no packing up and leaving and starting all over. And if you were born there – if you didn’t go specifically to windsurf, for example – many of these adventures are lackluster.

I didn’t go home for longer than it took to pack up and say goodbye. I was twenty-two and the world was at my fingertips. I’d saved $2000 and thought it would last forever. So I traveled, and eventually it didn’t, and I landed in Portland Oregon, and I’m still here.

This post was sparked by a quote I saw on Facebook today: “When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you.” My first thought was of that afternoon in Pa’ia town when I opened myself up to the great adventure. I’m certainly ready for another. Thirteen years is a long time to live in a city. A relationship has just ended. What next?

Snare me in your net, o Fata Morgana! I am ready.

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From → True Stories

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  1. Week 31-32 aka I Dreamt Her « Avowel

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