“Oh, hi! Could you hold on a minute?”
Some minute it’s been. More like years! So it seems she hung up, but she didn’t give up. (Yes, she’s definitely a she!) All the way over here in northeastern Thailand, the call came through again. Several of them, in fact. I thought it might be rude to continue to put her on hold. So as best I can from half way around the world, this time I’m taking the calls.
Maui and I have been flirting with one another for some time. It’s nothing personal and it surely isn’t about me. She flirts with everyone and almost everyone falls for her. It’s part of her charm and her curse. She’s been over-loved. It’s like polyamory gone bad – how could someone keep up with all those lovers. The bed gets awfully crowded. And so do her shores. And she’s pretty full of herself. She knows how enchanting she is and she’s taken it to her advantage – she comes at a big price. While seductive as she could possibly be and as tempted as I’ve been to surrender to her, I’ve resisted.
But since last spring when I went there to take my Hawaii LCSW test and extended my time into a vacation (I had plenty to celebrate, after all, having easily passed my much-studied for exam!), the walls of my resistance began to crack. And they’ve been crumbling ever since; try as I might to shore them up with all the ‘good reasons,’ most of them having to do with work, still creating a life in Puna, being put off by how expensive and crowded she is, on and on. But the mortar has taken some more shots and this time, my resistance has plummeted.
It started again, in of all places, Luang Prabang. Someone there told me about a website, helpx, which is similar to wwoof-ing, places where one can go and volunteer and in return, receive accommodations and food. I looked up the website and without even intending to, the first place I researched was Maui. In the past, I had thought that it might be fun to go there for an extended time to really explore what life could be like and whether our love affair had the potential of outlasting the superficial appeal of new relationship energy. But I kept coming back to how prohibitively expensive it was – helpx seemed like a good way to have an extended stay. There was even a place in Haiku that I book-marked to return to later, once I was back home in Puna. And I left it at that.
Then yesterday, she started in on me again. In the space of only 15 minutes, I kid you not; I received emails from two of my closest friends in Puna, both of whom have been involved in a similar dance with her. One had just returned from a 10-day date and was more enchanted than ever, using bold letters to emphasize how enthralled she feels – I want to move to Maui! The other was heading there today, finally responding after being long sought by her to spend some time together. Each of them, unbeknownst to the other, used some of the exact same words to describe her allure – … oh, the beaches, to be able to swim almost daily in her gorgeous and easily accessible beaches, to be able to connect with the vibrant alternative community there, to be able to shop at Whole Foods and enjoy great restaurants … Ohyes, it seems a Rapture of another sort is underway!
Before I moved to Puna, I imagined life in Hawaii and always, always, in each and every picture I envisioned of my life there; it was all about the sea. I simply photo-shopped myself into one of those magical Hawaiian postcards, smack dab in the middle of one of her talcum powder sand beaches and I was in bliss. I saw myself, bronze skinned, in sun-drenched days, swimming, hiking, living a healthy, active lifestyle, and engaging with others as we shared these pleasures and pursuits. Like any projections of a new relationship, it was perfect. And too, like any relationship, the reality didn’t and couldn’t live up to the fantasies.
First of all, I landed in Puna, far, far away from white sandy beaches. I convinced myself I could always visit the Kona side and enjoy the lovely beaches there. And I do. But it’s not the same. Puna has its own powerful appeal and magnetism, no doubt about that. It’s lush and verdant and powerful in its wild, raw, unadulterated nature. Madame Pelé is a force to be reckoned with and she’s a close neighbor. Black sand, lava dripping into the sea, snorkeling, unspoiled hidden pockets of paradise, not so many tourists and affordable in a way no other place is in the entire state. Alternative community – ohyes, we’ve certainly got that in Puna. We’re not called “Punatics” for nothing, after all!
But sun-drenched? Ha! My first winter there, it rained almost every day for two solid months. I was drenched all right, but it certainly wasn’t by the sun. We’ve been in a drought for the last few years, which I haven’t been able to muster up any concern about; but when the rains come, they come and they come and they come. We live in a rainforest, after all. Connection to the sea? Sadly, not so much. I see it much more than I’m in it and that makes me sad. Really, it does. There’s just something intrinsically wrong about living in Hawaii, being surrounded by the Pacific ocean and not being able to access it! Yes, I say – wrong, wrong, wrong!
There’s much I’ve come to value and love about being in Puna, all of which has kept me there and helps me to continue to ignore Maui’s advances. A pretty big and important one – I had a ‘good job.’ I have friends, even a community. And whether I like it or not, I seemed to fit into this crazy community! I have the circle of my beloved Puna Men’s Chorus and the extended ‘ohana we’ve created. I take week-end and longer trips over to Kohala beaches and I try to convince myself they are enough. I’ve come to love Hilo and its funky, small town charm. And it’s in Puna, Hilo & even Waimea, that singing has taken my life by storm! And now I live in my very favorite place of the four I’ve lived in over the past five years (yes, four over the past five years – yikes! Divorce had something to do with that, as well as other factors.) – my sweet, simple Kapoho cabin is a place I easily and lovingly call home. Ohyes, I have my own love affair going on with Puna. So I’ve put the Maui fantasies out of my mind and focused instead on my primary relationship with Puna.
But she’s relentless, it seems. And why not let her toy with me? I’m not married to Puna, nor have I made her any promises. And since I’m not big on monogamy (in theory) anyway, Maui is back on my mind. And this time, I’m running out of reasons to resist her.
One of the most compelling factors for staying in Puna was my job. But that’s no more, nor are there any regrets about that decision. And I can take my LCSW and the mounds of insurance company paperwork I completed to open a private practice and be a provider for them with me to Maui. And now it seems, two of my closest friends are in her clutches. One of them has even said a move there is possible before year end! And then there was my week+ time on Otres Beach in Cambodia, where I swam for hours upon hours every single day, blissed out and wondering why I didn’t get to do this at home. Yep, I remember my luscious days there communing with the sea and I simply must have it in my life again.
It’s already planned – a visit to Maui this fall with Bear for Sufi Camp and some extra time to explore. Will she have her way with me (Maui, not Bear! – LOL)? Will there be the chemistry that I imagine and hope for? I have a feeling she knows how to show her beloveds a good time. Will I be one of them? I can’t know without accepting her insistent invitations. It’s time to say yes.
I have a sense I’ll stay in Puna for some time, though; I do love the holiday season there, when the community gathers and my sister and friends from the Bay Area and beyond come for their regular Puna visits. Who knows, maybe I could become one of them, who visits regularly, but who calls home somewhere else. Somewhere else like Maui.
Maui no ka oi. Is it true? Is Maui the best? We shall see. All in good time, all in good time.
But for now, I’ve gotta run, I’ve got someone on hold.