I'm just gutted today.
This morning when I woke up at 5:30am I had a lot of emails with a lot of work attached to them. I set to the tasks at hand and only stopped long enough to feed the cats at 7:00am. 49 minutes later, I got a text telling me that Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii was on fire. And not just a little on fire... a lot on fire. The flames had started to invade downtown along Front Street, and many of the historic buildings were being destroyed.
The news only got worse as the day went on.
The first time I visited Lahaina was in 1987 with friends...
And, up until it caught fire, it never changed that much.
Sure, over the years different businesses have come and gone from the city. Including "Longhi's"... an Italian restaurant with a verbal menu that I loved (and was very sad to have seen closed). And the first Hard Rock Cafe I've ever been to (and was also very sad to have seen closed)...
But, by and large, the one thing you could count on is that Lahaina would be much as you remembered it. I was trying to count up how many times I've been to Maui, and I think it ended up being eleven or twelve times. And I walked down Front Street of Old Lahaina Town at least once every trip. It was a tourist trap for sure, but the restaurants and galleries and shops kept taking me back.
I have a lot of great memories with my friends from the city. And some great memories with my mom as well (I took her along on a couple business trips to Honolulu where we diverted to Maui for a quick vacation). She love poking around Lahaina... and loved eating at "Cheeseburgers in Paradise"...
And I'm trying to wrap my ahead around the fact that it's likely all gone. The historic buildings. The many homes. The shops. The restaurants. The galleries. All of it. And that's really difficult for me to accept.
But it's more than that.
Lahaina is home to a massive banyan tree... one of the largest in the United States. It was brought to Lahaina from India in 1873 and just kept growing and growing. Which means it's been a fixture in the city for 150 years...
Survived 150 years, and is likely gone. Just gone.
I've studied photos of the devastation, but either the tree has been utterly wiped from existence or I'm looking in the wrong place. But, in my defense, it's almost impossible to know what I'm looking at despite having been to the city over a dozen times.
This is a nightmare scenario. But a bigger nightmare could be to come. When they rebuild the city, are they going to try and recapture the charm and uniqueness of the structures? Or will everything be replaced by a bunch of cookie-cutter buildings, condos, and strip malls that destroy the city again?
Time will tell.
As it always does.