Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. – Snoopy
Friends, lovers, countrymen… stalkers, co-workers, ex-bosses… former landlords, bar buddies, strange neighbors with the roosters running wild and the mangy, barking dogs in cages… I am honored to stand here before you today.
For the past 10 years, I have watched you—mostly in deep admiration and respect, other times in slight disgust and confusion, on rare occasions with a fire in my loin and a thirst to quench—and made silent observations on the way you live and work and play. In turn, you have helped me grow, and from each other we have learned much.
You might’ve found out just how much when I started writing this column nearly five years ago. That’s when all my skills as a professional wallflower truly came to life. Without ever speaking to me, you told me things about your life that you couldn’t have told anyone, not even yourself. It was somehow comforting, you know, to discover your secrets—your awkwardness, your vulnerabilities, and your mistakes. They were so much like my own.
And you taught me that it’s all about the details. The way somebody looks at you when you’re telling a story, whether they watch your face or look around the room, or if they smile slightly, stifle a yawn or nod excitedly, or if they remember a detail about the last time you talked, or the way they stand, and eventually walk away. Or even, who they go talk to next, and if they cast a glance at somebody else along the way, and how they greet that person.
While on the job, I’ve had to interview many people, some talented artists, others trying to just be heard, and I have almost always found something I could relate to in that person. If we talk long enough, they usually tell me things they’ve done or felt or wanted to do that I never would’ve expected, or might’ve liked to try myself. We live vicariously through each other when we talk. That’s the beauty of it.
So when you go out into the world now, remember this: you’re not alone.
Every one of us has a tale filled with disappointments, accomplishments, hilarity, embarrassment, boredom, anxiety and perhaps a really bad pizza here and there. We all seem connected in some way, depending on which aspect of somebody’s life you ask about. And seemingly, on Maui, we are granted more opportunities to relate to the people who crowd us on the beaches or at the supermarket—whether it’s the time we seem to have more of on the island, or the fact that we have less bodies to work with—and so the potential for happy surprises abound.
For a time I thought I was sick of seeing the same people over and over again on this tiny little rock. But, of course, now that I’ve left on a jet plane, all those people are flooding my mind with their stories—their secrets, their surprises, their occasional stifled yawns—and I miss them.
And now, the only thing that comforts me is the hope that I will have the chance to meet more of you nutballs and inspiring folk. You know, so I can exploit the hell out of you for my own evil, journalistic purposes.
You’ve taught me well, so thanks. Now let’s RAWWWWK!
Samantha Campos has left the building. MTW