I want to tell you about Maui . . .

I want to tell you about Maui. I really do, but I just can’t.

sand

It was just too much, all of it. Too much. The resort. The water. The waterfalls. The locals. The fantastic coffee shop where we had breakfast everyday. A spinach frittata topped with soft feta cheese served with fried potatoes and thick white toast, the butter still melting. More bread than toast. The only real meal I would eat to soak up yesterday’s alcohol before I started drinking Mai Tais again.

If you're ever in Kaanapali go to Java Jazz. Best coffee and food, ever.

If you’re ever in Kaanapali go to Java Jazz. Best coffee and food, ever.

The family from our hometown that we met, that took us in as daughters and bought us drinks at the pool. They offered us their paddle boards and stayed up late with us until the sun set over the pool and we all wandered off laughing hysterically to our own rooms with dinner plans that never materialized because we’d all pass out. The palm trees. Our room, a giant two bed, two bath suite with a dining room, kitchen and wrap around deck overlooking the ocean. How I pulled all my bedding out there and would nap to the sound of the ocean.

nap

The sushi. The fish. The Mai Tais.

Cafe Mambo in Paia.

Cafe Mambo in Paia.

happy_hour

The early mornings watching the sunrise on the deck together drinking coffee and laughing. Always laughing. I swear I had a different laugh in Maui.

The view from our room. Yeah, that one still hurts.

The view from our room.

The sunsets every night, replace the coffee with wine. The way that my hair looked so amazing on that island. My hair, it wanted to live there. My skin, a perfect golden tan.

The fruit stands on the side of the road where we bought banana bread, too buttery and good, feeding it to each other and laughing while we drove down the road. Every few cars getting honked at by Hawaiian men who apparently have a thing for blonde women.

 

Iao Valley

Iao Valley

The cab driver named Kioni who wouldn’t accept payment because “spending time with two beautiful girls” was enough. He looked like a twenty-five-year-old Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He was forty-seven. Showed us his license to prove it.

If you ask me what we did there you’ll be disappointed. You’ll expect me to riddle off a long list of tourists spots. Did I see a volcano? Did I go snorkeling? Did I go surfing? No, no, and no. I’ve done those things before. You know what we did? We laughed. We laughed until we cried and then we laughed some more. We drank. We laid in the sun and perfected our tans. We had so much fun we forgot to eat. We woke up at dawn because of the time change and found our clothes were too big. We put on bathing suits and went to breakfast.

Ho'okipa

Ho’okipa

 

We.

Did.

Nothing.

We discovered what kind of friendship we have when we’re together without kids around. Everyone on the island thought we were sisters. We let them think it, because we discovered that we are. We hiked three miles down the beach to look at some sea turtles that were being shy that day. We marveled at the turquoise of the water then called a cab and got sushi for lunch. We ate the sushi while repeating, “This is like the best day ever. This is the best vacation ever. How will we ever go home after this?”

I’ve been home a couple weeks now. The guy working the desk at the gym daycare looked at me and said, “I’m jealous that you’re already rockin’ a serious summer tan.” I tried not to let out a deep sigh. Because that’s the thing about a break. It rarely leaves you refreshed and ready to get back at it. It just makes you wish for a longer break. Every few days one of us will text the other, “So when do we go back to Maui?” Some evenings she just texts me a picture of the sunset over the water. The view from our deck. We wonder how we could buy that condo and spend one week out of every month there. And of course, I want my babies to see it, to run in the sand. I also want to go there alone with my husband so he can watch the sunset over Molokai.

But I’d be lying if I told you that being there with my girl wasn’t the greatest damn thing ever. She and I, we’re dynamite. We vibe. We laugh and laugh and laugh. We felt young again. We didn’t talk about our kids. At all. We didn’t discuss motherhood.

We pretended we were other people, or rather we were the people we were before we became mothers. At the gym today I overheard a woman explaining to someone that the most difficult part of motherhood is that you’re “always a mother. Even when your 2000 miles away on vacation without them. You’re still a mother.”

I used to believe this too, but she’s wrong. I wasn’t a mother on that trip. I was me, separate from everyone else. 3,424 miles separate. Me calling to check in at 2pm as happy hour started because it was already 6pm at home and I knew by the time the alcohol took affect my babies would be safely sleeping in their beds and I could actually relax. Slipping into a warm fuzzy haze as the Hawaiian sun disappeared behind the ocean.

 

Maui: Sometimes You Need a Water Break

It’s a seventy-degree day in late winter. I take my boy to the park with a friend while my baby girl stays home with her Daddy. He’d been gone all week and she just wanted to snuggle him. “Daddy, I hold you,” she demanded. After the park, my boy and I enjoy a lunch date. My husband calls and says he’s invited the family to dinner. After lunch we head to the grocery store. My boy, he behaves, he helps, he converses. I bend over the cart and inhale the top of his head.

Later the baby naps and my son plays at the neighbors while I do my mother’s hair in the basement. My husband, upstairs making homemade bruschetta garlic crostini and linguine with clam sauce. Later I make the Caesar salad my uncle taught me to make the summer I was sixteen. The salad, it has its own bowl. The one my Mother’s husband searched and searched for. His wedding gift to us. It had to be perfect, carved out of raw wood. He ended up spending $250 on it in a gallery in Santa Fe. Maybe it wasn’t a gallery. Maybe it wasn’t that fancy, but this is how I remember it.

I drink red wine on an empty stomach while shoveling bruschetta into my mouth. I wash and rip up the lettuce while my mother sits at the dining room table coloring with her eldest grandchild, my boy. The windows open, the smell of lemon, butter, garlic and clams. Soon they all arrive. Barreling through the door all noise, hugs, laughter and squealing children running down the hallways in every direction.

My week has been long and filled with excitement, exhaustion, adrenaline, sweaty workouts and a belly so empty that it enters into that realm of hunger where appetite disappears. I stay up late while my husband is out of town on business. I keep my boots on well past eleven at night, as if something is going to happen. Nothing ever happens, but I happen. Me in the kitchen, standing at the counter and writing. Always standing. Or texting a lifelong friend who is newly single after fifteen years of marriage. She makes me laugh, hard. Alone in the kitchen laughing. I go to bed at 1:00am. I wake up at 6:30 still laughing. I look in the mirror while brushing my teeth and try to shake the smile off my face. I crack up again. I think of the trip to Maui I just booked, alone with another one of my best friends. No kids. No husbands. I belly laugh again. I start dancing right there, alone in the bathroom while brushing my teeth.

I feel like I’m in a dream. This is not my life. Only a few weeks ago it felt as if my world was imploding, but it didn’t. Somehow my life did what it always does. It righted itself. But how? How did my friend’s family vacation to Hawaii turn into just her and I, alone, in an oceanfront two-bedroom suite for seven days?

I meet her at the gym and we workout, hard. We sit in the cafe and try to pretend like we feel bad that we’ve fallen head first into an impossible stroke of luck. We try to pretend like we care that our other friends with small children are jealous. We do NOT care.

This has been a hell of a long time coming. We’ve dreamt about taking a weekend away together since our eldest children were babies. It has been a topic of discussion at every Mom’s Night Out for the last five years. We imagined a road trip somewhere close by, perhaps Taos. But this, this was a goddam miracle. This is Mother Teresa shit right here.

I sit there amped up on black coffee and cardio.

I laugh like a jackal.

To those of you reading this while covered in baby spit up, you’ll get there one day. I never would have thought this was possible. Two years ago on a particularly bad day I loaded my kids into the double stroller and headed for the park. It began to rain and still I didn’t return home. I just pulled the canopy over the kids and kept pushing that stroller. I kept walking, one foot after the other as the rain fell harder. There was no way I was going back to that house. In the midst of it all I received a text message from this very friend. Her husband had come home and surprised her with a tropical family vacation. My reply? I’ll give you a clue, it was two words. [I’m not a bitter person, not at all]

But this friend of mine, the one I’m going to Maui with, she and I? We deserve this. We’ve been in the trenches these last five years, and I’m not just talking about babies and husbands, laundry and fucking Crockpot dinners. I’m talking about life, all the shit that swirls around those things. We’re running the marathon of our lives. At times the finish line seems a thousand miles away. At times you just keep your head down and watch your feet. You breathe and put one foot in front of the other. Again, and again, and again, your lungs burning.

trail

We’re still miles from the finish line, but this trip?

It’s our water break.

She and I have trudged through heaven and hell the last five years. Many of those days spent together. And when not together, always texting. Messages that at times may have read, “I think I’m seriously depressed. I might need medication.” Many that have read, “I need ideas for dinner tonight. What are you cooking?” or “Wanna meet at the park? I’ve gotta get these kids out of the house!” And one that read, “I lost the baby. Are you alone? Can I come over and talk? I feel like you’re the only one who would understand right now.” And then most recently one that read…

“So, big change of plans. I might be going to Maui alone. Wanna come?”

Yes. Yes. And fuck yes!

But how would that even be possible?

A pipe dream.

And then there was a previously scheduled interview with a possible new nanny, an interview that went well. Then a phone conversation with my husband and another text message that read simply, “After five years of motherhood I deserve this.”

He agreed.

72 days and counting, head down, just watching my feet.

Refugees, Vaginas, and Guns, Oh My!

Last year I took a three month break from Facebook. I even wrote a piece about it but never published it because it was one of those obnoxious “10 Things I learned when I left Facebook” things. Lately I’ve been wanting to sign off, permanently.

I could say it’s the manipulation of my newsfeed to elicit emotion but that’s only part of the problem. Facebook does that, you know? They fill your feed with either negative or positive things to see if you’ll post using certain adjectives. They have a huge psychological research team. It’s not a secret. I’ve listened to many interviews with psychologists who work at Facebook. Last summer my friend posted about her son getting lost at a baseball game and used the story as an example of how easily children can drown at a pool party. For the next few weeks my news feed was filled with stories about children drowning.

Thanks Facebook.

It’s a lot of things, but lately I’m having a very difficult time suffering fools. People sharing articles without realizing it’s from a website that spins propaganda. People posting fake statistics. Just entirely fake, as if facts aren’t a thing. Trump anyone? I mean really, when an entire civilization thinks that facts are up for debate, that we can choose which facts are true, we have a giant problem. This utter loss of intellectualism has happened to the world before. It was called The Dark Ages. Pick up a history book folks. You really don’t want to do this again.

Then there are the Christians using their religion to argue with each other about the whole Syrian refugee debacle. And all I can do is sit there and scratch my head and wonder why religion is involved in that discussion at all. Why do you need to be reminded your Jesus was kind, even showing compassion to lepers and whores? Are you such an awful, self-centered person that the only thing that gets through to you is Jesus? Jesus, love incarnate. But you, you as a human, you’re garbage without that reminder I guess. Without Jesus you would look at those drowning people fleeing slaughter and feel nothing?

This is not about your religious ideology. This is about being human. If you cannot show love outside of religion, then you’re not a good person.

I mean yes, we all get annoyed when someone posts something political that we don’t agree with. But if your world view is based in kindness and facts I will respect it even when I don’t agree.

But if you post propaganda, if you facilitate the spread of ignorance by pushing the ‘share’ button. I’m fucking done. I cannot be nice.

In the last week I’ve unfriended three people simply for posting ignorant shit. And I don’t mean things I personally find ignorant. No, I mean actual ignorance. The misquoting or twisting of facts. The sharing of articles from websites that can only be defined as propaganda. I have no interest in seeing the inner racism and ignorance of my online friends via social media. No thanks, I’d rather read articles about drowning babies.

Then there was the Planned Parenthood shooting.

So yeah, gun control and Planned Parenthood talked about together. What a fucking delight! Hey and while we’re at it, let’s have congress defund Planned Parenthood at the same time and throw in a massacre in California to boot! But wait, oh we’re not done yet!
Wait for it, wait… for… it…

The shooters are Muslim and have links to ISIS, or maybe they just “self radicalized” (because that’s a thing now) the way crazy people do when they get bored raising their beautiful baby girl.

Oh yeah friends, grab the fucking popcorn. Let’s do this shit!

I’m done. I really am.

It’s the first time in my entire life that it’s really getting to me. I’m waking up in the middle of the night. I’ve become every old man reading the newspaper at the breakfast table and muttering, “The world’s gone to shit.” I’m going on acidic rants while standing in the kitchen talking to my husband. He just nods in agreement and listens. Then he tells me that there are these people who actually believe the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened, just like those morons who think the holocaust was a lie. Apparently it was all staged in order to get the public to favor stricter gun control. [Yeah, that worked out]

And my brain explodes right there in the kitchen. Like gasoline on a goddam fire.

I go to bed seething.

I wake up in the morning and like a mental patient I log back onto Facebook to enjoy some more crazy.

Then it dawns on me that it’s not the news. It’s not the refugees fleeing evil while being labeled as having the potential for evil. It’s not the shootings, or even the never ending subjugation of American women.

Nope. That’s just status quo in America.

It’s Facebook.

It’s the ability to actually sit and watch as America brainstorms with their 8th grade reading level and their inability to decipher the difference between entertainment and real news. I’m watching your thoughts friends, and I’m trying to remind myself of what I love about you. I’m trying to be tolerant. I’m trying to focus on your good qualities. I’m wishing everyone had really paid attention in their rhetoric class. I’m wishing you’d taken statistics, or logic and reasoning. I’m wishing you’d taken it, aced it, and remembered how to question information and the media.

monument

But you didn’t. Time to go back to school America.

Educated electorate my ass.

Time for me to log the fuck out.