At pub trivia night, your team comes in third despite the beer and side conversations between the host’s questions about current events and literature and sports.
One of the discussions you have is about work and students and remediation because you are, the majority anyway, community college teachers before most other identities–especially since none of you, though you are middle-age) are parents.
One of the other exchanges is around the age one graduates from trick-or-treating. You know your mother would tell the group that you’d still be out in the dark ringing doorbells despite her best advice. And, you wouldn’t deny this instinct. However, now you are mostly satisfied to reward those who’ve transformed themselves–like paper into features–with a full-size candy bar.
As you wait in your catrina mask, you reminisce your own careful transformations through childhood: gypsy, clown, Sacajawea, Elvira, poet, professor.
You swear if you lived in this place you would write more poetry. Or, if not, at least you might write more vividly.
The sky has so much to say here. When you look out the window at home, longing for a story, you too often encounter a solid matte ceiling. The drought has taken its toll on earth and sky, on your words and the palette you have to paint with.
Maybe you wouldn’t write more. Maybe you would spend your days on your back, on a beach or in a chaise or a golf course’s lush lawn, looking for messages from the heavens, looking for news from your dad.
After perusing the many exhibits of the astronomy center, including one on traditional Hawaiian chants and another featuring origami, you settle into a reclining seat to gaze into the planetarium’s full dome. The cool, dark room and the film’s mix of science and myth make you feel like you are listening to a bedtime story.
You feel heavy. Your breathing deepens. You want to pull a blanket up around you.
When you were a child, you spent entire summers sleeping outside with the horses and dogs and cats and chickens. On your back on the wide cool lawn, you would fall asleep listening to the darkness and watching the desert sky full of stars.
The narrator’s voice calls you to return, to return to this woman you are now.
The sign announcing the number at the Imiloa Astronomy Center makes you happy for a couple of reasons:
- You had no idea there are 359 moons.
- Now you know there are 359 moons.
- The sign is written in chalk because, perhaps, there will be 360 tomorrow.
This is a note on the menu at the Kona Brewing Company. It is there as a warning for people not to steal items from the table, but it doesn’t specifically mention what from the restaurant one might want to take as a souvenir.
The sign makes me think about some of the vendors that have almost tricked me into buying a lovely pair of lava earrings. I am pretty certain the vendors do not have permission to be selling these slices of the islands. I am superstitious enough to make sure I am not stealing from the goddess.
It is near dusk. You are in the front passenger’s seat. You are screaming because words fail and fear fills you. The driver of your car wonders what has possessed you as it will still be seconds more before he believes the little white car in the south-bound lane, having swerved off the highway, is now somersaulting toward you.
All of it is like falling in a dream: sudden, out-of-control.
You are grateful there are only a few cars on the road. Realizing you need to call for help, you also accept that help is a long way off.
The distance of assistance means exponentially increasing danger for the growing line of traffic you and your driver will try to direct. But, for the passengers of the car, two young men, who bounce out of the vehicle when it has finally landed upright, it is a brief reprieve.
You cannot fathom how they are okay. And then you realize, though they are in the midst of this frightening accident, they are viciously fighting each other while scrambling to gather the paraphernalia which has spilled onto the pavement.
It is getting darker and increasingly unsafe for you to be in the middle of a crowd of impatient automobiles.
Any sympathy you had for the confused and feuding two vanishes with the last rays of the sun when, just before the emergency crews arrive, the tweaker without the hat runs off into the lava fields to hide whatever has fueled this crash.
At one of the Ali’i Garden farmers’ market, in Kona, we came across Pretty Bird and her warning sign.
These are some of the important questions I might have in meeting a bird, a cat–or even a person–for the first time. And, they are each clearly answered for me.