You forget how slow the lifestyle really is in Hawaii, until you spend some time on the mainland. I have lived on Maui almost 15 years, and didn’t realize that Starbucks is now the center of the universe on the mainland. (Just kidding… sorta). We rarely go to Starbucks in Hawaii, it’s just an added expense. But we are away from home, near San Francisco, and we’ve been hitting Starbucks for 3 PM coffee time. It certainly is different here.
We sat outside on a perfectly still, sunny day sipping coffee, observing the Starbucks customers in a San Francisco surburb. (I wrote “still” because the wind is always blowing on Maui. Also, there is no humidity here. How could I have forgotten that? I hardly know how to act.)
Across from us there was a 20–something with her $1,200 handbag and expensive shoes, working her laptop and iPhone simultaneously, trying desperately to buy a house. We could hear everything she was saying, and every word involved stress. (As I read the other day, a CLOSET costs 5 million dollars in San Francisco.)
Then here came a 30-year old, striding purposefully into the shop, or her phone, trading stocks. Loudly.
All this commerce, this striding purposefully, the guys in suits and sports coats, the women dressed to the nines…this doesn’t happen on Maui. People in Starbucks on Maui are there simply to drink coffee. They aren’t trying to change the world, or even their own world.
People can fall into a groove on Maui. They work as waitresses, bellboys, or in a surf shack. They know life isn’t likely to change or improve. That it isn’t likely they’ll ever be able to afford a house. They have settled into dead-end jobs just so they can go surf or swim every weekend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it removes some motivation. It removes a certain amount of razor-sharp wit and intelligence needed just to keep a good job in other parts of the country.
Often, they moved Maui only to find out it’s much harder than they ever thought it would be. They end up working two or even three jobs….And if they grow weary of that, they move back home.
Sometimes, I miss the striving. Just sitting back in Starbucks and watching this smart/swift/sharp group of people navigate life here is a revelation. Eat or be eaten.
In Maui, the sharks are in the water.
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