LIFE IS PRETTY GOOD
(October – November 2017)
Soundtrack: (You) Got what I need- Freddie Scott
Things were wrong, you made them right
How did you do it, dear?
Oh, I’m thankful every day
And I hope and pray
That you’ll never ever go away
You got everything I need
You’re like medicine to me
Seven weeks have passed since I first landed on Maui. People came and went, some unnoticed, some leaving a long lasting impression and with some we made memories that I know will last for a life time. Among them, Marine, my cousin and one of my favorite people in the world, Lorie, Sab’s best friend, a tiny human with a giant heart who radiates love everywhere she goes and wears a permanent smile on her face, Ben “The Life”, one of the bravest people you’ll ever get to meet, Ryan, a self-made photographer/house maker/Jetsky driver/Helicopter fixer from Australian, Dan, local to Maui, waiter, writer and philosopher, all survivors in their own way, all beautiful people, inside and out. But also the French speaking crew: Myra, Elie, Audrey, Julien, Ombeline, Julie, Ben and Ben, and Nate, Kenny, Alyx, David and Devin, and so many more. Friendships blossomed and consolidated, others died in the womb. I guess after a while everyone started being more comfortable being their true selves and we quickly realized that not everyone can get along. And that’s fine too, it’s the way life goes I guess, except we live in such a closed bubble here, tensions can be trickier to handle, but despite the drama that also came and went for a while, I wouldn’t trade my place for the world.
So much has happened in such a short time. My favorite moments on the island are the unexpected ones, the unplanned events that together create our history, spending time all together, laughing so hard we can barely breath or having an impromptu dance party on a Sunday on the beach at Makena, learning how to do headstands on the sand and running into the water to wash it off, having a spontaneous karaoke session in the car to one of our favorite songs, going on a new hike and stumbling upon one of the most amazing view points or having one of our improvised family dinners when a party of two turns into a party of eight, learning how to surf at Launiupoko and getting smashed by the waves screaming “Turtle dive” and seeing Leo barely able to get back on her board because she is laughing so much, hiking Iao Valley in the rain with Sabrina, spending the day with Aske and Ben playing pool at the hostel and drinking beer in the hot-tub, having a spontaneous barbecue at night on the beach with the whole gang and playing fluffy bunny with Leo, deciding to drive to the top of Haleakala in the middle of the night to sleep in the back of Dan’s truck and catch the sunrise, going surfing at sunset and improvising a photo-shoot on the water with Leo in her inflatable donut , laughing our hearts out, running into the water at Little Beach at sun down with Leo and Sab when there is no one else but us in the ocean, opening a ghetto salon with Sab in front of our dorms… these are the moments that truly matter, the ones I am going to remember forever… it’s the little things they say. So here are some of the little things that made this trip unforgettable.
One day a terrible rain storm hits Maui and we lose power during the night. It rains heavily and almost non stop the next day and the hostel tour is cancelled so most people stay in. Laina and Isaac, the owners, treat everyone to a barbecue and we all spend the day in the yard, dancing in the rain, barefoot in the puddles. I teach Leo and Iza a line dance called Kuduro, we eat burgers and laugh the entire day. The power only comes back on in the evening, while we are lighting candles in the common areas and the whole room breaks into cheers and aplaudes when the light comes back on. Life slowly goes back to normal, but the memory of that day will stay with me forever.
One night, Leo, Nate and I head to Haleakala to take galaxy pictures. It is incredibly cold up there and when we arrive the sky is covered and we cannot see any star. We decide to wait it out in the car all the while discussing conspiracy theories. After a while the sky clears out to reveal the most breathtaking view. Billions of stars shining in the dark and the milky way, so clearly visible. We spend a few hours in the cold taking the most amazing pictures. Leo and I pose for a picture together and while we wait the thirty seconds necessary for the pictures to be taken, trying to stay completely still, we jokingly hum the song “I can’t feel my face when I am with you”. We see a few shooting stars falling out of the sky and make wishes and when we can’t take the cold anymore, we head back to the hostel, our heads full of stars.
Marine comes for a week and we do everything together, from hiking to a secret waterfall and nearly dying on the way back, to karaoke night in Kihei, to camping in a cow field, to waking up at sunrise to cliff jump and climb down to a secret hidden beach on road to Hana. We haven’t seen each other since she moved to Florida last March and it is great to catch up. We talk about my trip and my blog and she shares how much she would like to travel more after her year in the US and how my journey has inspired her to go on a similar one on her own. While she is on the Island, Jaws breaks. It is a yearly surf competition that is scheduled last minute when the waves are high enough. A few days before the expected break, the competition is announced and surfers fly from everywhere around the world to participate. Waves can reach 6 meters of height and almost 50 km/h speed and it is mind blowing to see. We head there with Ryan and a bunch of people from the hostel to watch the competition directly from the cliffs. The set up is amazing, dozens of boats on the water, a few helicopters filming, jet-skies to get the surfers out of the white wash once they fall in the waves. I have never seen anything quite like it. Marine leaves the island on Halloween night but before that we have an amazing last day together. Her, Sabrina, Ben and I go snorkeling at Black Rock in the morning and see a few turtles, eat a Poke Bowl for lunch on a Safeway parking lot (what has become somewhat of a tradition for us) and after lunch, Ben brings us to his favorite snorkeling spot on the island, a little rock beach where a fallen concrete pier has sunken in the water and got covered in corals over the years, we can swim among the wreckage of the hold construction and see a bunch of fish. We head back to the hostel at the end of the afternoon and get prepared for Halloween. Leo and I are doing Zombie Prom. Marine helps us with our makeup and we decide to spice it up by doing one side of ourselves in pretty prom and the other in scary zombie. Marine leaves before the party starts and Leo and I dance the night away at Laina’s party. Everyone is here and the night goes down has one of my favorites on the island.
A few weeks later, Lorie joins us for two weeks. She is Sabrina’s best friend from back home, and the moment she sets foot at the hostel, everyone instantly falls in love with her. Her constant smile, her positive energy, her never fading optimism and her love for life is exactly what everyone needed after a few weeks of drama and tension at the hostel. She becomes part of our family in a number of days and meeting her is without a doubt one of the highlights of my experience on Maui. They say it’s the people that make the place, and I couldn’t agree more. Maui has so much to offer and hasn’t ceased to amaze me the entire time I was there, but my experience on the island would be nothing without the friends I have made there.
Leo and I joke that we are soulmates, double Gemini-Libra soulmates. She has become my person here on Maui, the one I spend most of my time with. At night we sometimes cuddle in my bunk bed to watch Stranger Things. We’ll watch an episode and caught in the suspense she’ll ask me to watch a second one every time, and every single time she’ll fall asleep five minutes into the episode. Each time we go brush our teeth in the bathroom outside it’s a whole adventure. We never know what new animal we will meet there, Tod the toad, Tony the rat or their cockroach friends. Leo gets pretty scared of them but brushing our teeth has never been that much fun. We joke that we should write a children book called “Leo, Flo and their animal friends”. But in all seriousness, Leo is a beautiful soul, so genuine and easy going, always ready for a laugh but always there to listen when you’re not in the mood to laugh. She always goes the extra mile to make sure the people she cares about are happy. I love the way she says yes to any adventure even when she doesn’t feel like it just because she knows it will make you happy, how when she cannot contain her laughter she slaps her thigh or bangs on the table repeatedly, how she breaks into her go-to-dance-move when her favorite song comes on, how she prepares the strongest drinks but doesn’t seem to find them that strong at all, how she always takes care of us and prepares dinners for everyone, how she gives it to you straight when she thinks someone is acting up or being stupid. We have together the most meaningful conversations, the best dance parties and the most uncontrollable laughs. I have only known her a few weeks and yet she means the world to me.
And then there is Sab, nature enthusiast, people lover, coffee addict Sabrina. I love how her face lightens up when she falls in love with something. How entirely she loves the outdoors and marvels at the sight of a waterfall or a beautiful display of nature. How she is so enthusiastic about the rain. I love how honestly and genuinely she falls in love with the island on a daily basis, the smile that lights up her face when Maui makes her truly and utterly happy, her constant attitude of gratitude and how she seizes her dreams and never lets anything stop her, how she goes all “tour guide” on us and drags us along in her adventures. I love how she misses us when we go away for just a day, how she protects the ones she loves like a lioness would her lion cubs, how she is always herself and doesn’t try to be someone else to please anyone, how she always gives it to you straight even if I struggled with that at the beginning. I love her to the moon and back and there again and I love the way she loves people and wants them to be happy, simple as that.
Every day with these girls is an adventure, and when Lorie was here, the four of us and Dan formed the perfect little family. Just before Lorie left she told us that it was the first time she got attached to people so fast, and I feel exactly the same way. When we bring Lorie back to the airport, I cannot contain my tears. It is so hard to let her go but it also makes me realize that my time will be up soon. I love these girls so much and leaving them will be the hardest thing I’ll have had to do in a long while. In the car after we leave the airport, in an attempt to lighten our heavy hearts, Dan, Sab and I sing “You got what I need” by Freddie Scott and all I can think about is that everything I do now is likely to be a last: last time at the Paia fish market, last time singing in the car with these goofballs, last time at Makena on a Sunday… I feel very nostalgic and at the same time very grateful to be here with them in that moment. Tears keep rolling down my cheeks and I let them. It has always been so hard for me, when a chapter comes to an end, to wrap my mind around the idea that, no matter how amazing and beautiful things will be in the future, they will never ever be the same as they are in that very moment. It will never again be me, with this exact group of people, in that particular place, singing our lungs out, dancing like crazy and laughing our hearts out. And that is such a bittersweet feeling, knowing that we’ve been lucky enough to experience all of this but that we now slowly have to let go of it and move on to the next chapter. Every ending is a new beginning, right?
After leaving Lorie, I post a picture on my Instagram with the caption “I think I have never loved as much” and it couldn’t be more accurate. I realize on that day that no matter how intensely I loved in the past, it was always tainted. I have had a pretty chaotic love life and the love I felt for the most part was always painful to a certain extent. I’ve had complicated friendships as well with fights and drama and complications, fell throughs and reunions. But this is different. The love I feel for these three girls and for this place, for my life here and everyone in it is pure and untainted. It is healthy and at the same time so intense I sometimes feel I could explode. I remember less than six months ago, how my heart was only filled with anger and despair, but Maui healed me from all of that. I’ve never been so happy in my life and it terrifies me at time. I get anxious at the idea that I am running out of time and I worry that I’ll never find something so magical in the future. Leo and Sab have been trying to convince me to come with them to Australia and New Zealand and as time passes, I start to embrace the idea more and more. A lot of people that came to Maui told us that we made it the best holidays of their life and I can absolutely understand why. We have that conversation with Sab one night about how we created that bubble for ourselves here and how everyone that at some point enters the bubble would wish to stay in forever. In only a few days, it will be time for me to leave the bubble and I already know how heartbreaking that will be. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself through the years, it is how much I suck at goodbyes and how I always leave a piece of my heart behind when I leave a special place. And god, is this place special!
I feel more at home here than I ever did in Stuttgart in two and a half years. I realized here more than ever how little you need to be truly and utterly happy. I love the simple life we live here, waking up every morning in my dorm room and spending the entire day outside, from breakfast to dinner, sometimes wearing nothing but swimsuits for days in a row. I also rarely felt so loved in my life. Of course, I am still my usual paranoid self, fearing that people might not like me, but deep down in my heart, I know my girlgang loves me just as much as I love them, and that’s the best feeling in the world.
Leo and Sab give me a journal on my last day, with pictures of us printed inside of it. On the cover it says “Life is pretty good”, they tell me how, reading my blog, they’ve noticed that my previous articles where all about recovery, over coming obstacles, healing, and how they hope that through it all I can now feel that after all of this, Life is finally good.
And they are absolutely right, in that place, with this people, and hopefully, everywhere I go next, Life is indeed, pretty damn good!
Maui, it’s been one hell of a ride,
Till next time,
Pictures below by the very talented Nate, see more of his stuff here