After moving around from place to place over the years, there’s a feeling that I’ve had fester inside me time and again, but never really understood what it was, or even really tried to address. It only grew clearer to me after moving to Hawaii, and dealing with mass amounts of tourists day after day.
It’s a feeling you won’t get until you truly feel comfortable somewhere, like you live there, and you feel like that place is your own.
When I first arrived in Hawaii, I remember my boyfriend (who already lived here) being wildly upset about the road to his favorite beach being paved. I thought, “What an odd thing to be upset about…a paved road.” Wouldn’t he want the road to one of his favorite places to be paved? Wouldn’t he want it to be easier to get to? Not so much…
Because when the road to your favorite beach is easy to get to, that means it’s easy for everyone to get to. Now, the place he used to drive off-road to get to, where he’d set up his hammock, read a book and embrace complete and utter solitude, has a full parking lot every day. They almost literally paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.
I used to get this feeling when I lived in Tampa, Florida, when I felt over protective of the city during this time of year. Every year in late January or early February, a festival called Gasparilla takes over Bayshore Blvd. Similar to NOLA’s Mardi Gras, it’s filled with drinking, DJs, parade floats, and thousands of tourists – tourists that filled my favorite restaurants the weeks before and after; house guests that swarmed the pool at my apartment complex; visitors that made driving anywhere my own personal purgatory.
I even feel this once in a while when I see posts on social media or check-ins at my favorite spots back home in Boston. Sure, there could be a little bit of postcard envy tossed in here, but it’s more than that. I’m not so much envious to the fact that this completely random person that I don’t even talk to is at my favorite sandwich shop – I’m angry. Sometimes fuming, depending on my love for said sandwich shop.
Who told him to go there? How did she hear about that place? I bet they didn’t even order ________ (insert that thing that is the best effing thing on the menu).
I’m not angry that they are there per se, I’m angry that this place that I was once so fond of, enough to consider it my own, isn’t mine anymore. It’s silly, it’s selfish, and it’s childish. But I feel it just the same.
It wasn’t until I felt this for the first time in Hawaii that I truly realized what it was and how it came about. Since arriving to the Big Island, I’ve found my own favorite beach much like my boyfriend’s, which also doesn’t have a paved road. Most cars can make it down no problem, but to my pleasure, tourists in rental cars see jagged lava rock and signs saying, “unimproved road ahead” and quickly turn the other way. Insert evil grin here. This beach is my happy place, my sad place, where I go for solitude, sunshine, and reflection. Despite the other people, animals, and plants that call this beach home, to me, it’s mine.
But a few months ago, the increasing amount of people on my beach was too much for me to bear. Then rumors floated around the island that eventually, the road to my beach would be paved. My heart sunk, and that familiar fire burned inside my gut that I’ve felt before. A feeling I saw on my boyfriend’s face once before, but didn’t understand. While the road is still unpaved, and I can enjoy my beach as normal, there is still that fear of loss. But instead of anger and fear, I have to keep reminding myself that I was once one of those people stepping in on someone’s happy place. Here, and probably somewhere else. It’s okay to not want to share sometimes, but in reality, my beach isn’t mine. It’s everyone’s and no one’s all at the same time.
Many of you Big Island lovers may be wondering where my beach is, and some of you may already know. Maybe someday I’ll tell…