This is a place of transients. Vegabonds. Beach bums, vacationers, time-share holders, escapees, the young, the restless.
The locals are kind and warm, weird and wonderful. They’re weary, careful and curious. They’re helpful but suspicious. You can see the look on their face when you say you just moved here: “She won’t make it longer than six months. Most people don’t.”
Calling around for places to live, I encounter some incredible and strange characters. Depending on what area of town I’m looking, people are all different, but I think everyone shares a similar love for the islands, the weather, the way of life.
I drive to Paia, the sleepy little surfer town on north shore Maui. I’m looking to rent a room and share a place, get to know some people. I find myself eye-to-eye with Kimo, a local surfer dude whose house reeks of pakalolo. Hey, no judgements, of course, but not exactly a place I want to call home. The house has seen better days (to put it kindly), so I thank him politely and I’m on my way.
Driving down to Kihei in west Maui. I knock on the door of a guy named Jon’s house. The floors are all torn up and it’s a certifiable bachelor pad. The room has no flooring or carpeting. The kitchen is falling apart. Welcome to the tropics.
Another place in Kihei offers no refuge. My roommate would be a 40-something shave-ice shop owner originally from the UK. Another bachelor pad. Not a bad room, all things considered..and my own bathroom! It could be nice. When I mention having visitors (friends, family), he grimaces and mentions sternly that the room would be “just for me.” Point taken.
My new job had me working from home, so I needed quiet. My boss suggested Haiku, a quiet “upcountry” spot. Very lovely, unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen, but a little too remote for my tastes right now. I humor him and check out the most bizarre situation yet.
I pull up to Sonya’s home in the hills of Haiku…it’s honestly a lovely home, well manicured and taken care of. She also owns a vacation rental that she rents out to make extra money in addition to designing homes. She answers the door, half clad, her shorts unbuttoned, her midriff flopping about. She seems out of sorts. I’m led to the room I’d be staying…a decent size but full of stuff, including a blow-up mattress that her husband and his girlfriend sleep occasionally.
“So you’re husband still lives here?” I ask.
“Not technically. But we’re divorced and he will never leave me alone!” she lamented.
Great. So I’d have that presence to battle against. Not to mention the GIANT black safe in the corner of the room.
“He’s an ex-military guy,” Sonya starts.
Enough is enough. The last thing I need in the corner of my room is a giant safe full of god knows what from an ex-military guy. I know those types and have been warmed adamantly to stay away from them.
It wasn’t until a day or two later that I found my current digs: a nice, quiet studio in the country of Haiku. The place is great except that I don’t have a washer/dryer or a stove. I cook on a hot plate and go to the laundry mat. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for at the same time.
This begs the question: What AM I looking for?
The answer became clearer to me after spending about a week traversing around the island, meeting people, talking story with locals and feeling out the vibe. Although the west side is touristy, it’s what I need. I need a bit of a scene. I want to get involved, to meet people and friends. I want to make some connections and work on a boat. I’d like to work outside, preferably, and live close to work.
Sometimes exactly what we want is too much to ask for.
A woman named Kristy at a bar on Front Street isrestaurant owner from Atlanta and was giving me advice about being a free woman, following your intuition and scoping out the best possible scenario for yourself.
“It’s all about just riding the horse. Sometimes instead of trying to control everything, you need to let go and let things happen. Just sit up on the saddle and ride it. That’s life,” she said.
I’m going to heed that advice. I’m going to find the most ideal situation for me where I can get involved, meet people and make a difference. I want to make some money and have fun on my days off. I just have to give it a chance here is all.
The learning curve is high. This is an island, people have island attitudes. They are jetting off to all over the place, visiting from all over the world, but mostly California. Its no wonder why the locals have a reason to be suspicious of newcomers.
I’m going to prove them wrong. I want to be kama’aina (a local), to carve out a little life for myself that’s unique. The opportunity is there, I just need to go for it.