Being uprooted from a place you may or may not love is hard. I don’t mean it’s horribly or impossibly hard, but hard it is. I think that humans are creatures of habit. Take my first move: our way of life at the top of the Andes was not too bad, and yet bombs were going off everywhere around us on a near-daily basis. The currency was devaluing faster than you can say “almojábana” (you’re forgiven if you cannot, but oh…. pandebonos, pandeyucas. And almojábanas…. how I miss thee). And even kids who went to my school were targeted for kidnapping. You’d think that anyone would want to leave those seemingly unwanted conditions. But what did I do for like a month before we sold/packed/gave away all we had? I cried like a tween Banshee and would cling to pieces of furniture for added effect. When those were gone, I would cling to walls. And at first my little haven near the Santa Lucias seemed so cold and so unlike anything I’d ever know. And therefore awful. But years have a peculiar way of not only replacing your body cells and aging you: they also let the place where you are seep itself insidiously under your skin. And now here by the foot of the Ko’olaus –my third mountain range– I am starting to truly feel at home.
Of course I had to go through the whole, “Why can’t this be more like what I used to know? Why do people stop and “talk story” by the side of the road so often?” And so on. But there are always the small things; a little like discovering things about a new friend that make you happy that person is your friend. Then again, this friend drives weirdly and recklessly all too often; stops right before merging onto a highway; eats dangerously high levels of Spam; is on average –and unapologetically– five to twenty minutes late even for important things; does not brake for ambulances as a matter of course; and tends to have a happy-go-lucky attitude that makes you foam at the mouth. But it’s a friend.
Things like having such a generous neighbor –who worries my husband is “too skinny, eh” and sent me packing with cookies, more cookies, some cookies, and here’s some cookies. And some lemon chiffon. And things like running into people who want to give me tips on native plants and cooking. People who just want to stop and talk fo’ while about the herb garden I might plant and the vegetable garden he’s planted for many many years. People who want to tell you what their name means, or where to get the best loco food. Or simply a friendly face. And then there are those things like how wonderful it feels to walk around in shorts and a tank top at 9 pm in the middle of the summer –despite how miserable the heat can be, the nights are almost all lovely. The fact that flip flops are truly the only footwear you’ll ever need –even if I miss wearing some styles of cute shoes because it’s just not comfortable enough. And then there are the scents, magnified and heady in the warm breeze. The shocks of color, starting with the ubiquitous orange blossoms of a tree whose name I do not know, and then ‘Ilima blossoms, followed by Jacarandas, Plumerias, Hibiscus, and the summertime lovely messes of the Rainbow Shower trees.
All in all, every new place is a new opportunity to know new things. And most of those things are things you learn about yourself.
And if you want Hawaiian plants, click here.
Confidential to Pea-Kay: It was “More Than a Feeling”. iTunes has saved my life.