An amazing and crazy life. Not mine in particular, but life itself. Isn’t it interesting that we all share this thing in common, we all have an intuitive sense of what life is, but at the same time it is such an ephemeral and hard-to-describe thing?
Color is what tells us where one thing ends and another begins. One of the first things I ever told The Political Scientist over email, I think.
I slept well on the plane to Hawaii. I remember looking out the window and knowing when I was over Arizona, over New Mexico, over California… seeing the huge sandstone monuments in the deserts of the American southwest standing up like fins of desert sharks casting long shadows across the dusty tabletop of the sandbox of America. I love the way canyons play with the light to disguise themselves as acrobatic snakes. rivers and dirt roads and cars so few and far between that they remind me of an earlier time.
I saw some TV shows and a soccer movie. I listened to music and ate chocolate.
Finally, I arrive in Hawaii. It has been raining here nonstop for a month, and it shows no signs of stopping. The dryness-based illnesses, a pain in my nose, itchy skin, sore throat, clear up almost immediately as always happens when I come here. I have a cute little red car. They offered me a van or a convertible for five dollars more a day. I think that is crazy, so I say ‘no.’ it has been raining here for a week.
I see my uncle and step-aunt at their house. It has been a year, things are the same but different. It is strange seeing them. We talk about my project. I want to know about them and how they are. We talk about my dad and his girlfriend. Dinner time!
Beef Stroganov. My mother’s recipe. I mention that she doesn’t cook anymore? it seems strange that I traveled 6000 miles away from my mom’s house to try her home cooking. We have wine. it is corked. I hadn’t noticed, so it is OK.
After dinner, they offer me sambuca. I agree, hope they will share a drink with me, and then they disappear to bed. I have my sambuca all alone and fall asleep watching a Muhammed Ali fight on ESPN.
Halfway through the night, I am woken by another boxing match on the TV. I turn it off.
A few hours later, I hear a strange noise.
It is the rain outside my window. it is very loud.
I wake up at about 7am by myself. My Aunt and Uncle leave at about 4:30AM to drive to Honolulu. There is only one highway connecting Honolulu to all of the rest of the communities on the island, and it very quickly fills up and makes the 12 mile trip take hours, hours, hours. Today, I came back from Honolulu a little too late and it took me two and a half hours. The worst traffic I have ever seen in my adult life.
Yesterday I did nothing but work. I had no internet access for most of the last week on the mainland, so I needed to take the opportunity to contact everyone I had met with, to summarize what we had spoken about, to report back to Taiwan, to thank friends for letting me stay at their places, and to contact my dear roommates in Japan to tell them that I was in fact alive and was still planning on returning, as planned.
I ate the rest of my mom’s beef Stroganov that was left over. I had sushi for dinner down by the airport. I watched American TV for the first time in a long while. Really watched it, I mean. There was a lot of stuff I did not understand. Early bedtime. I am still jet lagged, but at least it is in the good direction.
I dream of blood. lots of it. And in different chapters that seem to make sense in a movie sort of way, but I don’t bother making sense of it. I wake up at 7 again, my aunt and uncle are already at work.
I chat with The Political Scientist for about an hour, and then it is back to work for me. I work until about 3pm, and then decide that I really need to see this island. I am supposed to be on vacation, after all. I drive 20 miles to the East Coast; the side of the island that I have probably seen the least of. All of the natural monuments; recently extinct volcanic cinder cones are still as I remeber them, like great-aunts at a family reunion. Diamond Head, Punchbowl, Koko Head, Hanauma Bay. In the far distance, Rabbit Island. Blow Hole. I do not remember the water looking so green; so clear. I see the lava and coral under the surface. Perhaps it is because I am not used to seeing the ocean contrasted against a grey sky. It is unusual for Hawaii. The one difference about all these mountains is there color. Because of the unprecedentred month of rain, they all are dressed in nice new dresses of green. The vegetation is shining in multiple shades of green that I have never, never seen before. It looks like a new island, or at least a cleaner one. It looks like moss on a forest floor, or a comfortable shaggy rug. It makes me want to run up the side of the mountain.
There are mudslides all over the islands, killing people and ruining houses.
I see the places along the road where smaller rockfalls have left a little mess, and I have to drive carefully around them.
I step out and see the beaches. Lovely. Calm. I think about my project. I think about what I am doing. I am not worried about it. Just thinking. My shoes are sandy.
A rainy day in Hawaii can still feel like a good day.
I throw seeds at a crab who is far away from me on the beach. I think he will run into his sand hole, but he runs after the rolling seed, picks it up, and runs into his hole again. He emerges, without the seed. I throw another. He grabs it, seems to think a while, and then carries it to his hole and leaves it there.
I walk over to him. now he runs inside. I roll about 10 seeds into the hole after him and then walk away. He does not come back out of the hole.
I wonder what story the crab has created in his head to explain this story to himself.
A particularily nice stretch of beach has signs all around it saying that it is contaminated with sewage. I think it is true. I consider hanging signs like that around the few secret beaches I know on the island lest the tourists discover them on their own and make them less secret.
It is raining a lot more, and I am worried the roads will flood, so I head back to my aunt and uncle’s house.
I am listening to a great DJ called DJ Yoda on the way home. The trip takes forever.
When I get in, my aunt and uncle are not in, but they have left dinner for me in the refrigerator. it is delicious; my uncle is a great chef.
As I am doing dishes, I see a gecko on the countertop. Since I was I kid, I have loved catching geckoes. I like the challenge, and I usually catch them eventually. After about 10 minutes of chasing and negotiating, I get him into a plastic bowl. He is light colored and breathing quickly. I watch him for about 15 minutes and take a picture. Take a video. then I let him go outside and wash the bowl.
I am in Hawaii, now. It feels like a vacation is about to begin.
I have one more day of work tomorrow, and then I am going to intentionally limit my time at the computer to maybe an hour a day. When I have access to this thing, I force myself to work. 15 hours a day in front of a computer is not a vacation, and I need to take one for real!