Wow, I snagged your attention with that one, didn't I?! Before I begin, I'm going to just throw this out there...I'm going to take a stab at the whole writing thing, once per day. I have the time, after all. This is the first time in my life where I've left work and totally unplugged. Well, at least now that I've written my 2015-16 season sparkly, shiny moments recap, anyway. Ahhhh... now I can breathe.
I arrived to Maui two nights ago, greeted by rain. It was pouring. It was funny, I woke up yesterday with a spirit to match the weather. It felt like one of the longest days of my life...not in a bad way, though. It was just full and in typical Megan fashion, I tried to be productive and check things off of my list. I always adapt to the environment I'm in...it's just that sometimes it takes me a little time. That's normal, right?! I came back to my place yesterday afternoon to rest and just let the tears pour out of me. It was pretty ridiculous, actually, but I felt a lot lighter after that. I struggle with not being busy. So I just wanted to let myself settle into that space of emptiness. It's a good-bad thing. Don't worry.
I took a half-assed nap and then dragged my lazy ass out of bed at around 7pm. I found a local's dive bar near my place in Makawao, Maui, which is located in upcountry and is an eclectic little village where new meets old. I walked in and found myself a spot at the bar in between a bickering couple (she was wasted and yelling at him) and an old man. Enter Peter, the man I met last night.
Don't think too fast...it took me a bit, one spicy bloody mary to be exact, before we spoke. The bartender whose name I can't remember (Scott, maybe?) was kind, and called me "honey." Across the bar, two young-ish men - one with red hair in a man bun and a beard, and the other with long blonde hair and a sloppy ponytail - drank beers and snacked on peanuts. The blonde-haired one in the baby blue surf tee was nearly falling over, but still trying to hold conversation with the ginger. Peering at them over the rim of my bloody mary glass, I was both embarrassed and enthralled at the same time. Basketball was on TV. Steve Kerr was talking to the camera. He looks kind of old. God, that must mean I'm getting old, right?! I digress...as you can see, I like to notice things.
To my right sat an old man in a beanie and his less old friend. Obviously local. Both had white hair and mustaches. Less old man commented on the busy-ness of the bar and questioned if that was normal for a Thursday night. Older man with beanie and a British accent commented that it had been pretty busy lately. Less old man directs words toward me, "Do you think it's busier than normal here?" I laughed. "I don't live here," I said. He laughed "Well then why on earth are you at this place?" Older man asked me where I was from and I told him that was difficult to answer, but before I could get that all out he guessed, "Estonia?!" That's funny. "No, not Estonia." I told him. "It's hard to explain." I guess that caught his attention, because at that point we started a conversation that I never expected.
Pete is originally from the London area, but he's been here for a long time. I asked him when he moved here and he told me he's been here for over 30 years, but before that he traveled for years as well. When I asked him if he was willing to tell me where he had traveled, he threw up his hands and said, "It's really about where I haven't traveled, isn't it?!" Kindred spirit. I liked him already. He fascinated me with each story he told. Vivid accounts of beautiful life experiences around the world. He built his own boat - which took him over ten years and $100k back in the early 80s. He told his friends and family well in advance so they'd hold him accountable. He told me that was because he didn't have the courage. I thought he was crazy for making that statement.
In under 45 minutes - or one bloody mary and a beer - I learned the reason why Pete built his own boat with his own hands (so he could be completely accountable if something went wrong out at sea), how he had been married twice - once at just 20 years old for his pregnant girlfriend who ended up miscarrying six months later, and once for a green card. I learned about his favorite destination - an island in the middle of nowhere, where he experienced thousands of dolphins coming toward his boat and parting around it. He told me when he looked up into the sky from the masthead on his sailboat he realized that no one else - not the richest men in the world - you know, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the like, would have that experience. He knew he was rich in his own way. At that moment he said the number one lesson he learned was to "remember what you have."
Pete told me tales of Tazmania and Iceland - "even the women at the rental car company were blonde-haired, blue-eyed and beautiful" - and why they're such special places. His eyes have seen sights most have not. He's weathered the storms - both literally and figuratively. I'm serious. Living a life out at sea thousands of miles from civilization, he's been disconnected and solo. But in all honesty...he's escaped numerous hurricanes by intuitively learning the flow of the ocean and how to move with that flow. At this point of night, I started to realize he reminds me of a close friend of mine. He's alone. Hasn't had a partner for a long time. But he's okay with that. He told me that what is even more scary than a storm is the stillness of the water...because he never knew if he'd move. Alone, out at sea in silence. One could go mad like that. Or insanely happy.
I know you're probably wondering if he still has his boat from '80. I was wondering too. Thought that would be a romantic twist to the story. But, nope. He's moved on. (I only wish I would have asked what his boat's name was.) Fascinating, right?! Mostly, I listened. It was nice. We ended our conversation with me telling him a little bit about my story. He asked me if I was courageous or if I went about my life leap in the way he did, with caution. I told him I didn't think of it as courage at the time, I just trusted myself and knew my heart knew that it was ready to leap. Somewhere around that time younger old man joked about how we should get a room (I later found out from Peter that younger old man owns one of the largest tour operators on this island).
Peter asked me if I'd be back and thanked me for the conversation. He told me he doesn't often get to talk about stuff like that. That his friends don't "get it." I told him he should write a book. He said he has too many stories to write in one book. I believe that. I told him he should get someone to write it for him. He told me he's too much of a perfectionist. Well, Peter...I'm sure I didn't do you justice, but you were fascinating to me too. And thank you for the conversation. Maybe I'll see you at the bar behind a bloody mary with karaoke in the background and basketball on TV. Until then, mahalo.
I get why artists torture themselves mentally...through pain they're able to find creativity. I feel one ounce of that at this moment and it feels good. And yes, I know this picture has nothing to do with the story...but the sun came out today and I went to the beach. And it's one of the only pictures I've taken.
Remember what you have,