Like the homeless man with the Dr. Seuss hat that used to hitchhike outside Paia Town. He’d frequent the nude beach and was rumored to be well endowed. Growing up, we called him “Penis Head.” (shit, I could have kept that last part to myself) Anyway, I think he’s now living in Kihei. But he’ll be gone at some point.
We all will.
It’s already happening.
Either priced out by the high cost of living, lured towards dreams Maui can’t fulfill, or just wanting to bridge this wide-open-ocean that keeps many away from their loved ones…
People are disappearing.
I had dreams of another life. Of big stages and big crowds and big money. Instead, I’m here on Maui. Which isn’t bad, it’s just not what I wanted. I find solace in waterfalls, in Nature’s baths of bubbles and clear blue. I find solace in rainforests, and shag-rug moss thick enough to cushion tired feet. I find solace in lava rocks, loose and musical with every step. I do find solace here.
But I think about being one of those faces that will disappear.
Like my mom’s favorite cowboy, who’d park his truck full of cane grass just off Hana Highway; wide brimmed hat the color of eggshells, huge belt buckle topping his jeans, long sleeved shirt rolled up to his elbows, handkerchief around his neck. His cows would come running as he climbed the fence and we’d marvel at their connection.
He’s gone now. As are the cows. And the pasture. Disappeared.
That land present day, is pushing up houses, with long, winding, cement driveways that keep spectators from view.
I think about MY favorite fisherman. Baldwin Beach. Bronze skin darkened by the sun, glistening with salt water, accentuating his dazzling smile. That smile! So open, so welcoming, so filled with Aloha. His sky-blue throw net—with little weights on the edges—slung across his shoulders and down his chest. Tabis on his feet to protect them from the reef, board shorts riding low, his five gallon bucket sitting in the sand, awaiting his latest catch.
Many of the fish have too.
Well, they had. Until the pandemic gave them a break from toxic sunscreen. Gave the island a break from the locusts that flock here, destroying the beauty that gives Paradise its name. Gave locals a chance to look up, and recognize those who still remain. Gave a chance to reclaim—the streams, the beaches, the roads, THE ISLAND those of us grown here have been nostalgic for all these years.
There’s a term for missing a place while it still exists. And whatever it is, we’ve felt it.
I feel it. In my body. As if I am an island.
And one day, I too, will disappear.