Skin Deep

I’ve gotten used to lizards keeping me company while I do yoga out on the lanai despite my onetime herpetophobia. They are a fact of life in Hawaii. I figured I’d have to make peace with them if I want to live here. And so I did. This morning a particularly aggressive one took a stroll across my yoga mat. I realized his pointy snout was drawing him toward my cup of papaya juice. I know from seeing their little faces leering down at me from the papaya trees that it’s a favorite. So I shooed him away and put my cup on the table, safely out of reach of pointed tongues.

But the other day, I was doing my usual morning yoga, reveling in the sunshine and fresh, clear air, when I noticed a lizard had attached herself to one of the wooden uprights on the deck. Following my movements, she arched her long spine, stretched her chin past her knee toward her foot and then started chewing on her toes.

I can’t do that. But I felt oddly flattered.

I went back to my practice, stretching and toning and finding four dimensional balance, listening to the gentle birdsong in the background, feeling the breeze on my skin, its heat equatorial with an undertone of cool.

Then I noticed lady lizard’s skin was turning pale. Fascinated, I gave up all pretense of downward dog, forgot about chattarunga, and stared, gape-mouthed, as she shrugged her narrow shoulders and removed her face.

yoga lizard

Ah. Molting. I hadn’t realized lizards do that. And as I digested that idea, I started to wonder why I’d never seen any discarded lizard suits draped over the lower branches of the potocarpus hedge.

She was quick to answer that question as I watched her slowly eat said skin. She opened her eyes wide in a “yummy” gesture and grinned at me, a wisp of papery epidermis dangling from her lower lip until, with a quick whip of her narrow tongue, she licked it off.

As I sat enthralled, Dear Abby popped into my head.

Dear Abby

Granted, my little friend was taking this concept rather literally, but the idea has been going through my head. I realized that we had not lived here quite long enough for life to become normal when we returned to Japan where we had lived for so long that it felt normal even though it wasn’t. And then, at long last, we came back here, where things were no longer the normal we hadn’t ever gotten used to in the first place.

I would like for our life here to be part of who we will become, or better yet, who we are becoming. I feel pretty sure it will, assuming a lot of things it is not safe to assume. I’ve always enjoyed the unpredictability of life, the tantalizing spice of the unknowable. But under all of that, it feels like we’re living on a veneer of thin ice, ice that shouldn’t exist in a tropical setting. It wouldn’t take much to upset the papaya cart and leave all of us climbing out of our skin.

Still, despite our worries and fears, when the evening sunset casts its pink glow across the pineapple patch and the purple-red leaves of the ti trees, there’s a sense of magic in the air. While the world is toddling its way into an uncertain future, I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather be. 

Me pineapple

 

Sobgiggle

It’s almost impossible to write when my emotions are turned inside out. While the world is percolating with disease and bitterness, there is no sweeter air than the air I am breathing this moment. The setting sun casts a pink glow on the pineapple fronds I see in my very own garden while birds chant their contentment.

This morning, I lay on my yoga mat with my eyes closed feeling calm and composed. When I opened them, my breath was sucked out of my lungs and up into a sky so clear and blue that I let out a sound I had never made before. At that moment, I realized I had invented a new emotion, a joy so pure that it nearly lifted me off my mat. But it was a joy blended with a sorrow so profound that it could have sucked me down through my mat into the depths of the ancient volcano that pulses and breathes beneath us.

I had created a sobgiggle.

Learning to live with joy is just as hard as learning to live with grief but it is a learning process that gives form and meaning to life. I am grateful for it.

Sweet

For many years, I had believed that pineapple comes in identical rings packed in heavy syrup in cans. But today we found this prickly looking thing in the garden and inside it turned out to be as sweet and juicy as a baby’s bottom. Further, we learned that we should plunk the top back into the garden and in six months or so should have another. Apparently, this is normal. Things grow in the dirt, you eat the parts you like, chuck the rest back in the dirt and Mother Nature gives you more. Wow. If that’s not unconditional love, I will swallow my own flip-flops.

But in a moment of reflection, questions and concerns started to percolate like the coffee in the pot on my grandma’s stove. Was my understanding of order in the universe based on cotton candy spun across a chasm of false assumptions?

I spent some time with Mr. Google and discovered that meat doesn’t come into existence neatly wrapped in plastic and displayed under flattering light at the supermarket. Chocolate milk doesn’t come from chocolate cows. Processed cheese doesn’t have any actual cheese in it and calling it ‘food’ is playing fast and loose with Noah Webster’s patience.

The veils of innocence have been swept away. As my wondering eyes slowly open onto a new and exotic world, I am full of wonder. Does Santa have an actual bowlful of jelly? Are visions of sugarplums actually dancing prunes? Does the Easter bunny really lay eggs? Do leprechauns not drink green beer? Do unicorns not poop jelly beans? Are Peeps actually birds? And if so, are the birds hopping around in my garden also stuffed with marshmallow?


With all of those tantalizing thoughts doing the fandango inside my head, I remember that my doctor has told me not to eat sweet fruit like bananas and pineapples.

Pineapples.

PINEAPPLES!

Where medical instructions go, I tend to be pretty obedient. I mean, doctors go to school for about a bazillion years so probably know what they’re talking about. But Mother Nature has seen fit to provide me with a golden gift conjured from mere sunshine and lava dust, and I dare not scoff at unconditional love. So thank you, Dr. Sara, you seem caring and dedicated and I deeply appreciate your concern for my health, but I am going to eat that pineapple, and others like it, and I am going to enjoy it.