“I surrender to the land,” I chanted softly, moving away from the wall and spiraling toward the center of the enclosure. Suddenly, I collapsed to the ground, sobbing. “I surrender to the land,” I continued, my face pressed into the moist Maui earth. After three years of struggle, I had finally given myself over to this land of paradox. Unconditionally. In return, the land let me go. Three months later, having once again stripped our possessions down to an affordable-to-be-shipped minimum, we were on an ATA flight to Phoenix.
As the plane took off and I watched Maui disappear into the turquoise waters of the Pacific, I sobbed again, harder, if possible, than I had done at Kukuipuka. Two years would pass before I could remove the word “aloha” from my voice-mail greeting or could listen to Lei‘ohu Ryder sing “Maui Loa” without feeling a tug back toward the land whose tough love had bruised, battered and, ultimately, strengthened me.
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