I'm not sure I like taking vacations. Or I love them too much. Either way it takes me a long time to recover. Going to Hawaii was like dropping out of the front pack of marathon racers, the six-minute milers. And now trying to regain my footing in the race has been tough. Maybe the back of the pack is ok. I dunno.
I'm an island girl. The second I step off a plane into some breezy humidity where waving fronds greet me, I am instantly at ease. The race falls away too easily. I have an instant urge to kick off shoes, slip on flip flops, yank the tight ponytail from my head, babywipie makeup off my face; island air is the perfect skincare regime.
It kind of pains me to write about the vacation now because I'm almost back full-throttle to normal life. I am grateful for my life -- every aspect -- but the yearn to feel breezy free jerks hard at me. It's a fantasy world though, the vacation life.
We arrived in Kona at night and though I could smell and feel the island, I knew it all wouldn't officially begin for me until I could see the ocean. In the morning, I was out of the room as soon as the sun lit things up. I picked up a felled plumeria blossom on the way to the beach and put it behind my ear. The entire trip I was not without a plumeria hair accessory. My friend, Tee, got us a sick hook up at a swanky resort. Looking at the beach that first morning, I wished the manicured lawns and pricey teak furniture would fall away; stop trying to compete or compliment. A swank resort could never be better than what was naturally there. The colors of an island are just like the flavor of the fruit there. It all has more snap, deeper hues, much more acute. There is no filminess blocking the senses.
Every morning I ate a hallowed half papaya filled with strawberries, chopped mint doused in lemon juice. It was unreal. I've tried to recreate it a few times since I've been back. Maya loved it, but Husband and I looked at each other after tasting the recreation. We knew it was much duller than the original. We sighed. I thought, vacations suck.
It's not like I don't put my feet in the ocean here and sing Her praises every day, right? But it's that sharpness of island color that pulls at your appreciation more. It's looking at the tops of your feet in thigh-high water as schools of tiny fish flow around like one piece of sheer fabric. It's swimming around with sweet, peaceful sea turtles that fly through water. It's the intensity of the sunrise/sunset. The ocean sings the same song every where; the melody of the tide is just as beautiful at home, but the Hawaiian wash is whiter, fuller, softer. It's zaftig.
The four of us took a trip to Hilo one day. We went from the barren, lava westside to the rainforest eastside. The drive is like a spectrum ride. It gradually greens; goes from rocky flat to lushly tall. We wound down a side street. The road cut through towering thick trees and vines and bamboo which crowded and pushed to take over the road. A group of teens hung out casually at the entrance of a one-way bridge. They were facing each other, feet poised on rocks in a purposeful way. They spied us out as we drove by, twirling leaves in their fingers until we were over the bridge.
Tee and I pointed out birds and flowers and leaves to each other. We widened our eyes because we couldn't seem to take in enough. We recited things we had read about the area. The boys, Husband & MattyP, ignored us and talked about Mainland crap. And we ignored them because nothing could be more important than what was in front of us right then. The similarities between Tee and me emerged and meshed probably more than either of us expected. It's one thing to be deeply affected by things and let that race around within the walls of yourself, but it's another to lower the wall a bit and let someone else see it. Deep appreciation is a completely vulnerable state, and Tee and I eased it out little by little in front of each other. We can't ever pretend now that we don't feel a shitload about a multitude of things. And I love her for that.
We had a similar experience when we took an oceanside yoga class together on the second day of our trip. It turned out to be a highly meditative and spiritual type yoga, a mix of styles, partly Hawaiian, partly any indigenous culture that knows the connection between oneself and nature, which is most. Our instructor was a small white woman in her 50's with waist-length grey/blond hair and she was illuminated from the inside. Her name was Callie and the first thing she had us do was stand in a circle and hold hands. She chanted a Hawaiian morning song which twinged my heart with slight embarrassment. She then asked us all to reveal our intentions for taking this class. It was eight in the morning and we all stood on beige sand under palm trees. The ocean hushed behind our nervousness. I thought, Fuck it, I'm going to ride the coat tails of Callie's spirit, man. I'm in this 110% at the risk of sounding and acting new-age corny, at the risk of completely embarrassing myself in front of my fairly-new friend, Tee. I answered truthfully and I did every one of Callie's movements with mucho gusto and I reaped great reward from it during the class and for days after. I realized soon into the class that Tee had made the same pact with herself, to move with full intention to cleanse the spirit, massage organs, stop the internal chatter, connect feet to earth, bring about world peace and the hundred other great things that Callie said was possible. Callie called Tee and I by name and said we moved beautifully, but we knew that already because we had sent all inhibitions away. We floated away from the class, physically tingling and giddy. Throughout the entire trip we quoted Callie and spontaneously did her moves without a trace of mockery. After the earthquake, Tee and I practiced many of the movements we learned. We did them right there in the middle of the diner parking lot while the boys stressed away on cell phones making arrangements to get home on time. But Tee and I felt good and connected. Our minds and organs were calm and we knew we were sending out a sonic wave for those near us.
And of course I've tried many of the moves at home, on my balcony. It is a duller version than what I practiced in Hawaii, but still the residual effects are enough. As Callie said, this was my "gift from Ha-vy-ee."
I could live in Hawaii. A few months a year for sure. Maybe when the girls are off to college. I'd live in Hilo, next to the farmers market that sold melon-sized mangos and papaya for pocket change. Maybe by then Husband would agree to that even though his parting, post-quake words to Hawaii were, "Get me the fuck off this island." Sigh. But I think he could adjust to island living too in another 10 years or so. We went to a luau one night during our trip because I had to see some dancing. I asked him to wear a sarong because I think island man-sarongs are hhhoootttt. He said yes without any hesitation. He's an island man at heart too. Maybe Hilo dreaming is just vacation residue which makes me hate vacations even more. Or maybe I'll return to island living some day for reals and drop kick the race to kingdom come.
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