My father has a love obsession with Hawaii. Even though we traveled to Oahu together as a family in 2006 — which is where I got my pendant, and the eventual logo of my business — and saw the beautiful land, smelled the salty ocean, and ate mounds of pineapple, I didn’t really understand it. It’s a gorgeous place, of course, but what makes it so special? How can it hold onto his heart the way it has?
And then I went to Maui. And then I understood.
Travel, for me, isn’t just sightseeing places or eating local foods. It’s more about settling into a different skin and feeling what it might be like to be a different version of myself. If this sounds strange, let me elaborate:
In New York, I wore cute boots, wrapped my hair into a chic sock bun, gnawed on bagels, and took the subway. I missed seeing the sky but the energy of the city hummed through me. (I also had an anxiety attack on a stalled subway line.)
In Japan, I finally understood the joys of legging pants, ate fresh fish and rice for almost all meals, switched to my second tongue, and was surrounded by children.
In the PNW, I walked everywhere — walked more than I have ever walked in my entire life, I think — and felt my mind melding with the many artist-types and photographers I met.
When I’m in Austin, I run a business, I drink Soylent, I go to Pilates, I wear lipstick.
The version of Elissa in Maui was the happiest Elissa I think I’ve known. Relaxed, suntanned, wearing a bathing suit instead of underwear, and having shaved ice as 95% of my diet, I think I could have lived there forever. And Maui is the best of so many worlds: fresh sushi, mountains and beaches, and sunsets like no other.
I can’t wait to go back.