When Col was a toddler we spent one year in Humboldt County, where we kept a space heater in Col’s bedroom. Col was briefed on not touching the heater, though at some point in the day would surreptitiously plug in his heater and then run to find us, hands in the air like a troubled soap opera star, crying out: “What ‘appened?!?! What ‘appened?!?!” (Which was his way of creating mischief and then alerting us to the mischief, just in case. Also, like the British, he dropped his “H’s”).
Which is a little how I feel right now, like: The Holidays…Multiple Airports…Multiple Time Zones (kids are now sleeping in until 5am)…Visiting Family on my mom’s, dad’s and Dan’s sides…The Atlantic, then Pacific…What ‘appened?!?!
Lighting Christmas Eve luminarias at Nana Judy and Grandpa Starks’ place in NJ. Also, as I overheard some teenage neighbor saying “one big ass flag,” which is probably not approved language for old glory, but if the shoe fits…
Christmas was quiet yet festive, and I had a glass of wine (after 4 months of alcohol abstinence) which felt completely holy.
Nana Judy accommodated all my healing diet specificities, which was heroic, including pots of bone broth awaiting my arrival like a friend you just can’t shake.
We drove from NJ through NY to CT feeling like we were inside some Billy Joel song, to visit my relatives. My dear dear cousin Amy’s dear boys, treated Col and Rose like siblings in the very best way. When I heard Jack say to Rose, “that’s enough pinching, Rosie,” I knew all was well.
And now we’re on the island of Kauai, with and thanks to, my parents.
The kids do not wait shyly outside the door of the big, wild ocean assessing it (for jellyfish, temperature, blood-letting rocks).They fling themselves in with their whole hearts as if leading the retreat on living fully.
The Island Ways are seeping in. I heard Col tell Rosie ten minutes after arriving at our condo, “you don’t need no shoes.” Daily, Rose gathers fallen plumeria and hibiscus flowers off the ground and places them around our condo like the madam of a tropical bordello. The saltwater is curing problems we didn’t even know we had, and the kids burn one thousand calories while I scoop the flesh from another avocado.
The sun makes you want to jump in the water. Flapping around in the ocean makes you hungry. Eating makes you a little sleepy, so you take a nap, wake up and start all over again. I’m usually, cumbersomely, trying to extract meaning from every event, efforting clumsily towards some Jewish notion of a Zen mind; but here it feels like simply relaxing and enjoying is a true sacred state.
We stop at every roadside produce stand and farmers market, because there is something so elemental and pleasing about buying food directly from the people who grow it (One Hawaiian man, when I asked if he had any lettuce, answered oh yes, and then disappeared to either yank a few heads from his garden or grab the ones he bought earlier at Big Save to mark up for tourists).
Could you resist going into the “Western-most Independent Bookstore of the United States?”
Yesterday the sky poured rain—heavy, wild and warm—for hours. Col and Rose devastated their clothes in the muddy slip and slide they created outside. Dan and I sat on the couch, reading, eating a few longans, taking it all in: the power of the storm, the children’s laughter, the feeling that there was nothing much else to be done.