Excerpt from Here Today, Gone to Maui

Excerpt from Here Today, Gone to Maui

Chapter One

In the weeks leading up to my Maui vacation with Jimmy, I considered all of the things that could go wrong.

Illness ranked pretty high. I could catch a cold, which in turn could mutate into a sinus infection – hardly a rarity in this dirty Southern Californian air, and notoriously resistant to antibiotics. I could contract food poisoning or one of those nasty tummy bugs that my coworkers occasionally import from their kids. I could get the flu (some odd and potentially lethal strain not included in my annual shot), conjunctivitis, or the shingles (which are reputed to be extremely painful, despite the comical name).

As our travel date approached without a cough, itch, or looming workplace epidemic, I turned my attention to traffic. Jimmy and I live at opposite ends of Orange County – he on the fashionable end (Laguna Beach) and I in the not-so-fashionable, forty-minutes-inland town of Brea, which is the Spanish word for “tar.” Actually, Brea is a nice, unpretentious, wholesome kind of town – just the kind of place you’d like to raise your kids, if you have them.

I don’t.

Jimmy offered to drive to the airport because my car was nicer and more apt to be stolen. Without traffic, Jimmy could make it from Laguna Beach to Brea to LAX in an hour and a half. But since we weren’t planning to drive at three o’clock in the morning on a Sunday, we could assume there would be traffic. With traffic, the trip could take three hours. Or five.

There are some things you just can’t control.

Like flight delays. Or cancellations.

The odds of weather problems between Los Angeles and Maui were slim (though not impossible), but the flight originated in Atlanta and had to cross the entire country before embarking on the final tropical leg. After ten years here, I’d practically forgotten about weather, which Californians define as anything over a hundred degrees or under sixty, but I knew it was out there. I watched the Weather Channel. At least, I had ever since Jimmy asked me to spend a week with him in Maui.

There was an inch of snow in Denver. It was ten below in Chicago. In Brisbane, Australia, the month was the driest on record. (There’s only so much they can say about local conditions on the Weather Channel, and I found the international segments oddly compelling.) But as for the weather between Atlanta and Los Angeles, and Los Angeles and Maui? The skies were clear.

It wasn’t until Jimmy showed up at my condo on the day of our flight that I realized what all of my worrying had been about. He was an hour early – a relationship first. When I saw him standing in my doorway in a pale blue polo shirt, his sunglasses hanging from a cord around his neck, I burst into giddy laughter, equal parts joy and relief.

I had never really been concerned about sinus infections, I realized. About traffic or flight delays. All of that was just a diversion, a way to avoid thinking about the worst possibility of all.

I was afraid that Jimmy wouldn’t show up.

I didn’t think he’d stand me up or anything – he wasn’t that unreliable. But he had a way of calling at the last minute, as I was applying my mascara or turning off the Weather Channel. Stuck in a meeting, he’d say. Buried with work. He’d make it up to me, he’d promise. Cross his heart and hope to die.

And today he’d come through. If a trip to Maui wasn’t making it up to me, what was?

I never once worried about what would happen once we landed in Maui, after we’d gathered our luggage and set off for the resort.

As long as Jimmy showed up, the week would be perfect.

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