My Strange And Painful Connection To The Maui Wildfires

When I heard about Lahaina, I instantly thought of the lyrics to "The Last Resort."

  • Bev Potter

Written on Aug 23, 2023

Lahaina before and after heartbreaking wildfire SevenMaps | Shutterstock, chrys35 | Canva

I was 24 years old when the first boyfriend, K, I’d ever had was run over by a truck.

He’d dumped me a few months earlier for a girl with a Road Runner tattoo, but I was deep in the throes of obsession and still thought of us as a couple.

I had zero clue that he was an alcoholic, something I found out after the accident when one of our coworkers mentioned that K would regularly drink a six-pack of beer after work.


That’s how his car ended up wedged under a semi. The police didn’t bother charging him with DUI because he suffered a life-altering brain injury.

I was wiped from K’s mind, but he wasn’t wiped from mine. My memories were intact, and I had mementos.


Merriam-Webster defines a memento as "something that serves to warn or remind."

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That bit about "to warn" is interesting, since it turned out that every person I was involved with after K was an addict of one kind or another.

I still have the letter he wrote to me one night when he was working the third shift at the factory where we met. He was incredibly funny  — weird, off-kilter humor like mine.

And K lived for music. He wanted to be a DJ on the radio.

I knew things were going downhill when he told me one morning over breakfast that he "wouldn’t be able to support me" as a disc jockey, and that’s why I couldn’t go to Colorado with him. I didn’t understand why he thought I would need to be "supported," but of course, that was just an excuse.


K made me a mixtape that I also still have, full of songs that meant something to him.

I’d only heard one or two of them before. But of course, I listened to them backward and forwards until they were a part of me.

The tape had two sides. He’d named them "Songs to Listen to Quietly in the Dark," and "Bright Lights, White Noise, Screams You Can Taste."

There was Lou Reed’s "Last Great American Whale"; "Tool Master of Brainerd by Trip Shakespeare" (possibly my favorite song of all time); "Angie" (I knew that one).

And "The Last Resort," sung by The Eagles.

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When I heard about the Maui wildfires, I instantly thought of the lyrics to "The Last Resort," a long, elegiac ode to California written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey.


The song doesn’t get a lot of airplay, even though it’s from one of the best-selling albums of all time, Hotel California.

You can leave it all behind

Sail to Lahaina

Just like the missionaries did

So many years ago

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Lahaina. Paradise. And now it was gone. I’d never get to see it the way it was, just as I’d never see K again the way he was before the accident.

Lahaina was gone, K was gone, and I had failed to heed the warning of those mementos I carried with me from place to place like cursed objects.

This is the last stanza of "The Last Resort":


They call it paradise

I don’t know why

You call someplace paradise


Kiss it goodbye

This is the warning that nobody heeds. This is it. This is paradise — our lives, our world, and all the people in it.

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Bev Potter is an Ohio-based writer interested in health, humor, and entertainment.