I don’t mean this on some deep, metaphysical level… I mean it literally was demolished and no longer exists.
The place was the Kapalua Bay Hotel in Maui… and it was heaven. The first time I went there, my husband proposed to me. He wanted the experience to be perfect… sunset on the beach. Unfortunately, he had scheduled night after night of simple yet sumptuous restaurant dinners, all many miles from our hotel… so we were never anywhere near the beach at sunset.
I couldn’t imagine why he was so antsy and testy during each dinner. I had no clue he had an engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket. I thought he was just irritable. And what kind of a guy is irritable in the middle of paradise with the girl he loves? Clearly our relationship was not long for this world.
He finally gave up on the sunset thing and we went for a late night stroll on the beach. It was lovely… except for the group of half-naked teenagers hooting and dancing wildly around a bonfire in a very Lord of the Flies way that made me convinced they’d whip themselves into such a frenzy that they’d tear us apart with their bare hands.
We relocated to a stunningly beautiful grassy point that overlooked the ocean. Once again all was perfect… but was that screeching in the tree above us???
Somehow he managed to propose and I wept and neither the bats nor the teens attacked, and the Kapalua Bay Hotel was cemented in my mind as the world’s most perfect place. We went back for our honeymoon, and returned and returned as often as we could. We snorkeled away our days, watched sunsets on the beach, ate mind-numbingly delicious plate lunches and sushi dinners, then trolled the grounds for the geckos and frogs who only showed their faces after night fell.
It was the one place I always felt perfectly calm, relaxed, whole, and at peace.
The last time we went to the Kapalua Bay Hotel, I was seven months pregnant with our daughter, so I like to think she got to experience it too.
By the time we made it back to Maui, the hotel was long gone, razed to make way for high-priced condos. We visited a sample room while the place was still under construction. The view was everything I remembered: the high grassy point, the ocean, the palm trees…
I was shocked when I felt the sobs welling up. The place was heaven… but it wasn’t our heaven anymore.
There’s that cheesy thing in therapy about Finding Your Happy Place. It sounds idiotic, but when things get too emotionally crazy, I go back to the Kapalua Bay Hotel in my head. I pad along the stone pavers by the pool with a cup of bar snacks in my hand; I breathe in the thick ocean air; I lean down to kiss my husband before I sprawl out on the strappy lounge chair with my still-damp towel slung over it, then I sit back and look over the point, down to the breaking waves.
I usually can’t hold onto the feeling for very long, but while I do, once again, it’s heaven.
Okay, forgive me if I got too John Tesh for a Monday morning Deb post, but I really did love it there that much. Now I’d like to hear from you — is there a place you loved that’s gone? One you wish you could visit again? Tell us all about it, and maybe that’ll bring it back to life just the littlest bit.