I can count the number of friends who visited me during my five-and-a-half years on Maui. The first to visit was a couple who flew from California and stayed for a long weekend in my first apartment while attending a wedding in Wailea. I invited my long-time friend from Denver for Christmas, and she stayed in my cottage while we house sat my colleague’s home nearby in Wailuku. My friend from Taipei and another from Honolulu also visited and stayed with me. The last visit culminated in a concert in an autoshop.
Now that I’m back in Utrecht, it’s clear why not more friends could visit though they wanted to. Airfares were not cheap but that’s not the only reason. Flying time was long. From Europe, you fly across two oceans and a continent, crossing 12 time zones. This means two to three days of your journey is spent traveling to Maui and back, not to mention jetlag. My invitation to paradise was not an easy one to accept.
There are other ways to see old friends besides the invitation and planned travel to a destination.
I managed to “catch” two of my conservatory classmates on Facebook — that they were in Hawaii. I lured one of them to spend a day on Maui, visiting my home, having lunch at a golf course, visiting the beaches. On another occasion, I drove to Lahaina to have lunch with the other former classmate who was cruising the world with his piano duo partner. Our table was literally next to the ocean.
This manner of “catching” my friends’ whereabouts on Facebook was how I managed to enjoy a tasty dinner with my cellist friend from Missouri in Boston’s Chinatown. It’s also how I’m going to see my German friend from Shanghai in his hometown Braunschweig. I hope I’ll see my friend from Baltimore who is hard to track down as she blazes through Europe with her entourage: London, Utrecht, Paris, Malta, ….
Meanwhile, some of my friends have “caught” on that I’m in Europe.
“Will you be here when I return from Vegas?”
“When are you in London? I’ll be attending a wedding in Tuscany.”
“We’ll be on holiday in Mallorca. Let’s meet after we’re back.”
Before Maui, my life in Utrecht and London sizzled with visitors.
The five years I lived with Robert in the monument house were filled with what-seemed-like constant renovations, shopping for food and home-improvement material, cleaning, cooking, and entertaining. We lived and worked here. We gave piano and guitar lessons. We practiced. We rehearsed. We recorded. We hosted house concerts.
Our friends visited from afar. Students, scholars, commuters, and other independent travelers stayed with us, supporting our quest to restore the monument house to its original splendor and get our duo off the ground.
We called it “reverse travel” because all the work with the house and our performance schedule kept us in the Netherlands. Instead we “travelled” the world through their cultures.
Initially, in the monument house, we had three bedrooms and the attic to accommodate ourselves, housemates, and guests. The upstairs had its own kitchenette. After the garden house was finished, we lived horizontally instead of vertically. Not having to share the bathroom and toilet was a bonus. Only then were we able to lead independent lives.