“I would rather gargle with wasps!”
It was one of the very first things I heard out her mouth. And the her was a him. But the him called himself Martha Stewart Maui.
He had a South African accent—Johannesburg. He was tall—nearly six foot five. His was dining with his husband—Maui Bob.
Two Maui Somebodys for the price of one. Well, this certainly was better than a freshly baked apple and crandowdy crumble-top dessert placed atop a stunning yet adventurous—and can I just say, slightly high-maintenance—Hosta Centerpiece with budding hydrangeas frolicking out of tree-trunk inspired vase.
(And for God’s sake, dearest reader, please do not draw out the letter A in vase. Read it again and say it the proper way: vahhhhhse.)
Now, where was I? Oh yes …
He told me his name an hour earlier … when a large group of locals had gathered for a plush dinner at the scenic Gannons, on Maui’s luxurious southern side for an event supporting Maui Pride—but why bother repeating his real name now. Martha Stewart Maui he was and in my mind, I had already pulled the long-sleeved white gloves all the way up to my Polish elbows. It was not as if I was going to inspect for dust, mind you, but I had lived a life as a prominent journalist, once, before The Universe tossed me onto a remote island in the middle of the Pacific—so that I could heal or something like that—and I just had to learn more.
Well, the Main Course of Revelations truly unfolded during a post-dinner conversation on a nearby chaise lounge area. It was Yours Truly, my new soulful gal pal Rosemary, Maui Bob and his husband, Martha Stewart Maui. I must have asked what made him “Martha Stewart Maui” and immediately I was inundated with the list: solid relationship skills (both professionally and personally) and then … oh, the baking, the cooking, the decorating, the shopping, the party planning and, dear God, whipping up—what was it?—his wedding in a less than a few weeks time … and to one of the most fabulous men a groom-to-be could ever meet: Maui Bob, several years beyond MSM’s fortsomething-hood.
My heart melted.
After all, I had married myself 10 years ago—as a social experiment and not so much a narcissistic emotional carnival ride with flashlights shining on me for attention, thank you very much dear Rosemary (xoxoxo). Still … now that “my husband and I” were taking separate vacations annually, I could not dismiss the slight pang of Something New emerging—the sharing of one’s life with another rather than, say, nabbing another human being just for the sake of “relationship” … which is what I had done to some degree in the past. So, when Martha Stewart Maui mentioned his glorious wedding—in that distinctly unique South African accent of his—it triggered some reflection. Clearly it was time to branch out. If I could pound stakes into dirt and bury a dead Myna bird during an ABBA serenade and break up a fornicating troika of gekkos and morph into a wannabe kahuna while blessing a newly-planted grove of olive trees I had been sent to Maui to oversee, then, well, at some point, I could co-manifest something like love and loving with another—a Maui Rob perhaps for … hmmm … Carrie Fisher Maui. (The celebrated albeit befuddled author dearest reader, not her Princess Leia demeanor!)
Well, the four of us chatted up a storm. The conversation ventured into deeper waters. We all spoke of twists of fate—Maui Bob and MSM had married late last year—chance encounters and that dreaded thing, which seemed to have brought so many of us to Maui: career burn-out. That particular topic opened up emotional doors and, I now recall, plenty a finger wave from Martha Stewart Maui—as if to make a point or six, mind you. And as we all sat there, I found it downright interesting that the stars had aligned in such a way, once again, that it brought four complete strangers together to discuss life, loss and new beginnings.
Apparently Maui had lured a gaggle of curious souls to her, lovingly of course, and would hold a space for these souls, watching them unspool into the persons they were meant to be. I believe we all came to this conclusion, however when Martha Stewart Maui noted it—with and eye roll, a wave of a hand and some deep sighs—somehow it felt “official” and true.
To know Martha Stewart Maui is to know that MSM is an impeccable dresser—linen slacks, a dignified blue shirt-sleeved island shirt and Wall Street Yacht-esque loafers, although the term “loafers” seems off-putting. They were stylish, let’s just say that.
Martha Stewart Maui has voracious wit. There was something about the way he mentioned his fanciful creation of exotic lilikoi and banana pie with vegan crust, or something like that … and truly, when somebody from Johannesburg says lilikoi, I do not find it odd—at all—to ask them to repeat it, say, 11 times. So lyrical. There was also MSM’s “I’d rather gargle with wasps” statement and all—this after confessing that he, like, me, had reservations about returning to work in a Corporate America-type, fast-paced professional industry filled with 12-hour days, endless emails and high stress. No, we all agreed that perhaps there could be a better way to serve the planet for some of us.
Martha Stewart Maui was a Virgo, which, in some circles is considered the Cathy Chatty of the zodiac and yes, this dear creature chatted up a storm.
Oh … there was talk of traveling the world, observing cultures, working … and working harder still. All of which we all could relate to. There were also realizations, the kind that seem to only sprout when four or so are gathered; the kind that suggest that there is more this life than the things we do or have and that, at times, whether we like it or not, we simply must take time to stop what we have been doing in an effort to know where we are destined to go and realize who we truly are.
As I drove home with Rosemary that evening, a feeling of calm washed over me; the kind that suggested I was in the right place at the right time, and that Maui had been revealing more magic.
Four days later, everything changed.
Imagine my shock when through the nether regions of my subconscious came Fear, Doubt and Worry. They brought with them their wicked step-mother, Is There Enough Money, and auntie, What The Hell Are You Doing In Maui And When Will You Get Back To “Work” So That You Don’t Worry Your Polish Mother. Yes. They barged right into the forefront of my mind and began activating my entire nervous system.
Rude. I do not recall sending out invitations to come by for “tea.” (Actually, if I am truly a Carrie Fisher Maui, it might be a Diet Coke and a Marlboro—whatever!) I wanted them to leave—immediately. But they remained by side until, at last, the only thing that could soothe my spirits was a dip into the ocean … for I knew Maui would bathe me and cleanse me until I could gather my wits and recall one of its celestial reminders: You were brought here for a reason, Dearest Greg. You were. Be still. Let go.
The following day, not quite fully convinced, I sent out an S.O.S. via text: “Help me, Martha Stewart Maui, help me. You’re my only hope—Carrie Fisher Maui.” (And yes, in this case I was being tres Princess Leia, thank you very much!)
Well, the two of us met at a vegetarian restaurant in lovely Pa’ia. There, over a fresh kale salad and some banana smoothie with carob of some sort me thinks, Martha Stewart Maui assessed the frazzled soul that was me. “Poor Polish girl has lost her mind,” I imagined he thought, but it was more like: “When we get out of our heads and into our hearts, we are allowed to trust and have more faith. It is this that you must do.” A sigh. “Believe you me, I know. It is easier said than done. But you seem to be like me—you want to have “it” all figured out. I must say … it can become rather exhausting. Trust, Carrie Fisher Maui, trust.”
There was a lump in my throat. How wonderfully Obi-Wan of MSM.
A week passed. Maybe more. I walked the new balance beam of Trust and Faith, feeling some things deepening, and other things—intergenerational family trauma (oh, my Polish roots), grief/confusion/ over the loss of my “corporate” life cycle and burn out from finishing a book (oh, the creative trauma we writers face and/or concoct!!!!).
And then I received a text. I was invited to Martha Stewart Maui’s potluck birthday party. How lovely. I texted back my RSVP and added: “What can I bring?”
A few days later I was given instructions to bring a protein dish. “But not chicken,” Martha Stewart Maui warned, for too many people were bringing that. And not dessert!”
“May I bring tofu?” I texted.
“Well,” Martha Stewart Maui shot back. “Tofu? Really? That might be rather contentious around these parts with the whole GMO thing.”
Dear Lord. My thumbs went to work on the phone: “I will NOT bring tainted tofu!”
“Well, if you must bring tofu …”
I am certain I may be embellishing the exact phrasings, but alas, what was a soul-searching Polish blonde to do? “So, let me get this straight: You want me to slaughter a cow and bring beef?”
There was no reply.
Beef? Well, how could I? Although, thinking upon it, I recalled a conversation I recently had with a friend who told me that to slaughter a cow is to help the environment because they are often emitting far too much gas.
Still, I fretted.
“May I bring quinoa?” I texted.
Really, Martha Stewart Stewart Maui! He knows how to make a point.
On the day of the soiree I was beside myself. Because the extent of my “cooking” has more to do with placing mixed greens and a protein source into a large salad bowl, I opted to venture into Whole Foods, grab several items and rework them into a fancy container and fib about how it was all created—as if I slaved over the stove the entire day. I was certain that this decision had more to do with a roaming mood swing than anything else.
So, there I was, back at home after purchasing something from Whole Foods. I must have blacked out the purchase—in true Carrie Fisher Maui form—for when I looked at what I had brought home, I realized it was a vat of quinoa (as if to show Martha a thing or two, mind you!) and—what the hell?—prime rib beef? Well, I took a step away from the counter and sighed a horrible sigh. “I’ll never be invited back to the High School sock hop—ever, ever, ever—again!” (I believe this was the Jan Brady in me coming forth and for God’s sake, hopefully I could work my way back up the bunch toward, say, The Reasonable Greg.)
“Choose!” I heard myself say. “It’s the quinoa or the beef. Choose!”
Choose? How could I ask myself to choose? How positively Sophie’s Choice of me! And at a time like this? I couldn’t even choose if I wanted to stay in Maui for a year or move back to Chicago to be around family and other creative matters. My choosing gene had run off—somewhere—far far away. I was ill-equipped. Ill-equipped I tell you!
So, I did the perfectly natural thing a Carrie Fisher Maui could do. I introduced the quinoa to the beef and they fornicated in a bowl and I called it Super Protein Surprise!
Rosemary, lovely friend she, took one look at me as I told her about this on the car ride over. “Really? Quinoa and beef? Oh my!”
“Well, it will be good for people! And … I think the cows were organic, too!”
The setting of the soiree was in the courtyard of a lovely woman’s home. Martha Stewart Maui greeted us—he was superbly dressed for Kihei’s 90-degree heat—light fabric, button-down cotton shift with modest floral hints, white shorts and stellar moisturizer that made the face glow. Hugs were offered. Guests were introduced. Humor was dispersed.
There, before a glistening lima bean-shaped pool and some pool lights for the late afternoon spledor of it all, various place settings were arranged. Would Martha Stewart Maui have it any other way? Well, one simply could not mix the vegan dishes with the “meat” dishes, and the canapés had their own place, too. Soft drinks—wonderfully and neatly displayed atop an open bar. The music—upbeat, not too loud. Perfect in tone and style.
As I held up my beautiful potluck bowl, Martha Stewart Maui shot me a look.
“What?” I said. “It’s Super Protein Surprise!”
“What is that?” I believe he may have said, gently, as if not to spawn a mood swing.
“It’s quinoa and beef!” I gushed—perhaps like an eight-year-old who was excited to have just made, from scratch, something like Pillsbury Easy-bake cookies.
“Quinoa and beef?” Martha Stewart Maui repeated. And then he nodded and leaned in. “Thank you so very much for bringing it.”
I was instructed to set the dish “over there”—with the rest of the meat—on the outskirts of the fabulous yummies. Chicago’s South Side to New York’s Upper East. I tool no offense. However upon inspecting the fabulous dishes of freshly baked and glazed chicken wings and lean chicken breasts, I feared my Big Ol’ Bowl Of Super Protein Surprise was horribly out of place. Then again, I mean … there were more men at the party than women, so on the plus side: The sperm count would shoot far North of Anywhere anyone could possibly imagine … should these men partake in my Quinoa and Beef Challenge.
The point is this: Carrie Fisher Maui’s swing was horribly close to a “mood” and the only thing I knew that could save it was—damn it—protein. That brain—it needs ample doses, after all. I must have piled on too much quinoa and beef—remarkably thick on the gut I might add—and consumed far too much for my person. That, combined with what I was certain was freshly-squeezed lemonade from an organic lemon tree, directed my mental synapses into all sorts of diverting patterns.
Best to mix, to mingle, to partake in the festivities, I thought. And so I did.
There were about forty or so people in attendance—lovely souls. But Maui has lovely souls. Before official birthday wishes were granted—and all over a freshly baked organic lilikoi-something-or-other-cake/pie with raw vegan crust, I think—a blessing was in order. Kawika, a magical and lovely local gent who crafts Hawaiian idols by hand from the spines of sea urchins, offered Martha Stewart Maui his latest creation—a handmade necklace of one of four Hawaiian Gods. Martha Stewart Maui graciously accepted the gesture, perhaps holding back a tear in the process … and then he stood by her man, the wonderful Maui Bob, placing an arm around his back. Kawika offered a short explanation about the Hawaiian chant he was about to say by way of singing. I had heard such a thing before—prior to my hula class, in fact … a blessing/chant is offered before people step foot into the studio. Kawika’s blessing was reminiscent of that blessing and brought with it the deep, hypnotic, ethereal elegance that is Maui.
And so, it was right there that, once again, Maui had showed me something rare (by Mainland standard’s)—a gathering of like-minded souls unfettered by job status and “labels.” These were people whose hearts exuded something beautiful and who wanted to share something beautiful with one another. These were creatures living In The Now; In The Maui of it all. This was a cast and crew of fourth-chakra curiousos, so many with spiritual leanings. These were Martha Stewart Maui’s friends. And I had been fortunate enough to be among them.
The gift was being able to be there—to witness it all, as if it were a remarkable Maui kaleidoscope shifting beautiful colors before our very eyes. Martha Stewart Maui had something unique: presence. And we were all present to that fact on this special night.
Several hours later, as Rosemary and I helped in cleaning up a bit after some attendees had departed, I was handed a big bowl of something that positvely reeked of roast beef.
“Carrie Fisher Maui … thank you for bringing your beef and quinoa,” mused Martha Stewart Maui, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “Look—there’s leftovers! Surely, you would like to snack on it tomorrow.”
And then I took the damn bowl out of his hands and cradled it against my chest. “Well … you told me to bring protein!”
Martha Stewart Maui patted my back. “There, there, CFM. It will be all right.”
And then he disappeared … somewhere toward the pool, toward the few people who remained, right back into the Maui Magic.