A green, rocky jewel surrounded by sparkling blue was my first glimpse. As we flew closer, my heart pounded. My dream was coming true.
About two weeks after my mother passed away in 2004, I attended the famous Maui Writers Conference. My trip was planned long before the stroke that took my mother’s life. Part of me felt guilty for doing something so self-serving when I was still in mourning. Another part of me was ready to work—and to be blessed by beauty.
The Maui Airport was very open—meaning that there was no window glass. The breeze was free to blow right through the building. How exotic! I boarded a shuttle bus that would take me to pick up my rental car.
I had reserved the least expensive compact car. The agent cheerfully asked me if I would like to upgrade to a Mustang convertible for just $10 a day more. Quick calculations told me that would be adding $60 to my rental bill—much more than my budget would allow. I politely declined.
“We’re all out of Sentras,” the agent told me. My heart dropped. All the starving writers who were attending the conference probably reserved one. Why did they overbook? “But we will upgrade you to a Mustang for no additional charge.”
Wow. I felt as though I’d just won the lottery. I had never driven a convertible before. I’d only ridden in one twice in my entire life. Here I was, 51 years old, in Hawaii, driving a red Mustang convertible with the top down. It doesn’t get any better than this.
To save money, I had opted not to stay at the same hotel as the conference, but one several miles away. Also to save money, I declined a room with a view of the ocean and took one across the street from the beach. I had the directions all mapped out—basically a straight shot from the airport, with a left turn once I hit the Pacific.
When I saw the ocean, it took my breath away, and I almost missed my turn. I grew up in New Jersey near the shore, but I wasn’t prepared for the brilliant aquamarine of the waters around Hawaii. Add the hula of the palm trees—magic. Wow.
The hotel sprawled across multiple acres of gardens. It was old, but charming. It was motel style, with rooms opening to the outside rather than to a hallway. The lobby had walls that folded up, so that during business hours it was completely open to the outdoors. My room looked just like the photograph online, neat and clean, spacious, and with a little balcony overlooking the grounds, shaded by tall palm trees. It even had a little refrigerator and a microwave. The bathroom had a high, glassless window up in the eaves.
I took a walk around the grounds. Flowers bloomed everywhere—anthurium, hibiscus,bird of paradise, and plumeria bushes. What fragrance! The pool was the shape of the island of Maui.
I crossed the street and walked along the beach. Windsurfers dotted the bay. A totem pole stood like an exclamation point in the sand. The waterline here was very rocky—this was not a swimming beach.
The conference was a wonderful experience. I attended workshops, met famous authors, and pitched my novel to agents. But the most memorable part of the trip was landing in beautiful surroundings which so soothed my aching heart.
This piece is a response to a writing prompt from Jeff Goins’ 500 Word Challenge.
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