Magic?

“$8.88 a 12 pack is a very good deal.”
“You are learning, grasshopper.”

Yesterday, Rochi got home from the store without the beer he’d gone to fetch. Instead, he’d brought home a perplexed expression.

“I can’t find my debit card,” he said.

“Groan,” said me. “Where did you have it last?” I’m a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes method.

“I used it at Ace Hardware and still had it in my hand when I bought ham at the market but I paid cash there and then I had the card and the receipt and the ham in my hand and then I just had the ham and the receipt.”

We got into the car to drive back to the store, where we checked the parking lot first, not expecting much, and that’s what we found. So we went inside, to customer service. The lady in the booth was on the phone and gestured that she was already helping the gentleman waiting on the electric scooter. So we waited. Soon another lady came along, also wearing a perplexed expression.

“I left my iPhone in my shopping basket but now the basket is gone but tracking says the phone is still in the store. Are you waiting for customer service?”

I nodded toward the gentleman on the electric scooter. iPhone lady settled in to wait.

Not long after, another lady wearing the same perplexed expression came along and asked where the line began. Again I nodded toward the gentleman on the electric scooter and asked, “Did you leave something behind?”

“Yes,” she said. “A six pack of beer.”

This led to a spirited conversation about the relative values of the things we’d left behind and the difficulty of replacing them. The lady in the booth was still on the phone.

In time, a nice lady in a store uniform came along and asked what we were all waiting for.

“Well,” says I, pointing to each of us in turn. “A debit card, an iPhone and a six pack of beer. Guinness, no less.”

The nice lady opened the door to the customer service booth and handed over the beer, simultaneously digging around in a drawer. Her hand emerged, clasping a Bank of Hawaii debit card. Just then, one of the cashiers waved an iPhone in the air. We all looked at each other, simultaneously thinking, “What are the chances?” as we reclaimed our loot and headed out.

I don’t want to jinx it by giving it a name, but it feels like there’s some kind of magic afoot here in Puna. Just the other day, we were wondering: When you live in Hawaii, where do you go for a vacation?

Full Circle

Once again I find I have come full circle. From the little girl from Nowhere, Pennsylvania, I am now the little girl from Nowhere, Hawaii. Today I got to impress Rochi with my knowledge of the difference between hay and straw, not just the composition but the uses and the smells. He was a little floored by the latter.

Ah, what a lifetime of accomplishment.

Day 7: That Aha Moment

Having gone backstage to share a little pre-show love with the kids in our former group, I was shivering in the auditorium at the university waiting for the Big Island Taiko Festival to begin. Suddenly, I remembered why I had set myself a post-a-day challenge.

A week ago, I had a lovely chat with one of my besties back in Tokyo and he asked me what I’ve been up to here, what my typical day is like. I was flummoxed, not sure what ‘typical’ might even mean. Each day is different. Almost every day there is a new first, be it a new view, a new sound, a new taste or a new face. So far, at least, there’s been an almost mystical balance between being busy and stressed and allowing myself to relax into the beauty and serenity of this little corner of the world.

This Week

As the lights went down and the curtain went up, I was overwhelmed with a sense of happiness and gratitude, literally moved to tears by the awareness of how lucky I am and how sure I am that turning our lives upside down and moving here was the right thing to do.

The challenge was to look at a week and see what happens and decide whether or not it is typical. I have determined that the answer is yes. It was a typical week, in all of its odd bumps and bounty, it was typical. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Day Six: Shoot!

Nothing happened today. Or rather, I did nothing today. Or rather, I didn’t do the stuff I usually do, which means starting the day with yoga or power walking. It was late–the bird concerto had already ended–and I was feeling a little out of kilter. So I spent some time on the stretch pole, something that bring balance, centering and calm.

Yesterday had tired me out. Rochi’s work permit finally came last week and that meant we had to go to Social Security and get him a number. That all went well enough except that I handed over the documents and the man behind the glass said they already had his application. Very odd. He spent some time fiddling his keyboard and then wrote the number on a Post It. Perhaps the same fairies who guided my tax return through the Japanese postal system (long story) had followed us to Hawaii. At any rate, that was weird and those thing always leave me feeling a little discombobulated.

Then we finally made a decision about the generator but realized we couldn’t bring it home. The store people would help us load it, but even if the weight didn’t send Six to Honda heaven, we wouldn’t be able to get it out of the car when we got home. So we paid for it and left it at Will Call to be called for once our beefy neighbor gets back from Kona.

So I thought it might be wise to lay low today. I made a turkey and bacon sandwich for lunch and then the mail came. Lo and behold, Rochi’s social security card arrived along with a summons to immigration for the interview where we try to convince them we really have been married for 30 years. I’m not worried about that; we can annoy each other very convincingly, but it will mean a trip to Honolulu. We’d both rather sleep on a cactus than do that, but 1) it should be the last step in making Rochi legal and 2) it will be so very nice to come home again.

I booked our flights and found a decent looking Airbnb then walked down the street to feed our neighbor’s cat and now we’re settled into leftover chicken adobo with avocado sashimi along with salad and a bit of brie.

See? Nothing happened today, not a darned thing.

Day 5: Adventure

This seems like very good advice.

Early last year, I told a friend in Honolulu that we were looking at houses in Puna. He scoffed, saying,”That’s cowboy land. You don’t want to live there.” As things turned out, we did buy a house in Puna but nary a cowboy have we seen.

Little did I know that adventure was lurking just around the corner.

Rochi wanted some straw to mulch the tomatoes and had read about a place called Miranda Country Store, which we found in the business park along Route 11 between Hilo and Kea’au. In my head, a country store recalls bolts of gingham fabric and bags of beans and a big jar of licorice sticks on the counter. But it seemed that ‘business park’ means ‘bunch of warehouses’ and Miranda was as nondescript as the rest. They specialize in Feed, Fencing and Fertilizer, but also sell pet supplies and plastic bulls, not for riding but for roping practice, maybe for rodeos, too. Cool, huh?

When we entered the building, a strong smell tickled my nostrils, familiar but elusive. As my unconscious fiddled with that, I peered around a corner saw bales of hay and straw piled nearly to the ceiling. At times in my life, I have been quite intimate with those smells. I felt a wave of history wash over me in that odd, disconnected way memories pop up, totally out of context, and leave you bobbing somewhere between thrilled and exhausted.

Rochi told the fella in the saggy jeans and cowboy boots that he only needed a little straw, not a whole bale. The fella suggested that we come back after they’d unloaded a delivery and sweep up the bits that end up on the floor. “Just bring a trash bag and a broom and help yourself, but let us know you’re here so we don’t run you over with the forklift.”

The whole exchange was a delight, the smells, the memories, the easy familiarity, the common sense and the proof that there are cowboys out there. I just haven’t been looking in the right places.

Day 4: Generator

Today was a very nice day, or at least it started that way. I had nothing urgent on the docket so I got up slowly then spent an hour working out on the lanai. I had cottage cheese with nectarine for breakfast and then did a crossword puzzle, a clever one with a a clever theme that made me feel clever when I figured it out. There’s nothing quite like a dash of smugness before I’ve finished my coffee. After a bit of editing work, I did some online shopping, most of which was pleasurable, but I did spend over an hour fretting over generators.

One snag to life in paradise, I’ve discovered, is that we are offered the same prices as Mainlanders and shipping is still free with Amazon Prime, but if I order something large or heavy, I am asked to pay a ‘local delivery’ fee, which means the surcharge for flying the thing to the island. (Apparently ‘shipping’ has nothing to do with ships and ‘delivery’ has nothing to do with delivering.) I have found these fees to be upwards of 200% of the cost of the item. This is a little annoying but we live pretty squarely in the middle of nowhere and hurricane season approaches. If the power goes out, we could be stuck but good. Gone are the days of the family happily huddling over a Scrabble board eating beans from a can by candlelight. It is a scientific fact that the 21st century human will quickly turn into butterscotch pudding if deprived of electricity for too long, so I accepted that I should at least attempt to buy a generator.

Given my loathing of power tools, I would rather eat Spam with Gummy Bears while walking barefoot on Legos than buy a generator. On the other hand, the thought of a freezer full of rotting food brings back the memory of The Rotten Chicken https://mouseintokyo.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/rotten-chicken/ and we really don’t want to go there again. It took months to get that smell out of my nose.

I did my homework, learned how many watts it would take to keep the essentials running, which of the chugging monsters would produce enough power without shattering either my eardrums or my bank account. I started with Amazon but soon despaired of ‘local delivery’, so I ventured over to Home Depot only to run into the same roadblock. In desperation, I turned to Walmart but, alas, it was the same. So here I am, tired, a little grumpy, generatorless and with the smell of rotten chicken in my nose again.

Day 3: Tulle

In the costume shop at the University of Hawaii, I spent a couple of hours helping my friend Lee sew a gazillion yards of frou-frou onto a ballgown to be worn by a drag queen in a runway show in Honolulu.

I did this for several reasons. 1) I like Lee. 2) I like outrageous sewing projects. 3) Never in a month of blue moon Sundays would it have occurred to me that I would one day type that sentence, but I am overcome with delight and gratitude that I did.

Part of the process of packing up and leaving Tokyo was taking the time to see friends and say goodbye. We had an open house for work friends, a karaoke afternoon. I made dates for lunches and coffees and walks.

One of the nicest get-togethers was dinner with my twin sister Jay (we have the same birthday). Jay is a fascinating person, a lawyer who has trekked many of the world’s miles and soaked in many of its onsen, done volunteer work in Fukushima, taken pictures that could fill the walls of a museum and its corridors with fascinated visitors.

We chose a quiet restaurant and an early reservation, hoping for some peace, but as it turned out, waves of other diners came and went. The staff had to ask us to leave when the restaurant was closing. Jay has a way of asking questions and listening to responses that makes you feel like you are the most interesting person in the universe and every word that finds its way out of your mouth is important and worth remembering. We sat there for five hours and there was never a lag in the conversation. I felt a heavy pang of sadness when it had to end.

I miss my Tokyo people, the relationships built over months and years, but we’re making new friends here: the costumer, the yoga teacher, the earth mother, the Canadian, the cowboy poet, the Keepers of the Hens and Scrabble experts. They’re pretty great people, all unique and interesting in their own ways.

A really dumb rhyme I learned in Girl Scouts keeps running through my head.

Make new friends but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold

Maybe it’s not so dumb.