On the second plane ride there is a distinguished passenger, a WWII veteran who is celebrating his 90th birthday. He was in Pearl Harbor all those years ago and now he returns for the first time with his wife.
Our hotel room has two little, clean twin beds on wood platforms, a closet that smells so strange (maybe like dog food?), and the best water pressure. My sister says it is the “spring break” hotel she never got. Most nights, she showers first because she needs more time to get ready. I try to rest as I wait, listening to the Pandora 90s Summer Mix on her phone. My favorite, secret love song comes on.
Our first day trip
The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. The black and white footage of the tropical harbor on fire, the feeling that this place was so helpless in its waiting. An audio guide allowed me to experience in solitude. Looking through the water to the rusty, fuzzy ship below, so little to separate and yet left forever. The stains of oil on the surface, the urns of men being returned to their comrades.
A little rain cloud has begun to follow us, sometimes refreshing, sometimes irritating like another little sibling throwing small tantrums in public. It pours, then its sunny, then it sprinkles and the sun still shines. It feels like a reference to Winnie the Pooh.
The dinners with men and women I have known my whole life. On this trip a lot of people remember my Papa, my big Irish Grandfather. They miss him here, and even though I never came to this place with him, I can imagine how he must have enjoyed it. I miss him too and the memories make me proud.
Not everything here is paradise. A stranger asks “Can I rape you?” The spray on sun screen, mixed with sweat turns my clothes neon yellow, I think at first that I am sick. Tired from the drinking and time change. Arguments. Silence. I fail at surfing.
Another hike to a hike of old volcanoes and dry grass overlooking the blue Pacific. I wanted to take more time, but my sister moves fast and so we follow. I notice how skilled I have gotten at taking photos on the move, a theme of our family vacations (and lit in New York). Movement. On the go. Touching many rocks, leaves, grass, metal. Smelling the hike. Using all my senses as I focus on breathing and climbing past other hikers up stairs, through tunnels, on slanted stone and mud.
The Iolani Palace is a reminder of the vibrant culture these islands hold on to, being confronted with the western cultures that conquer. There is a quote on the audio guide about Hawaii gaining her sovereignty, meaning now or in the future? I want to know this history and these beliefs and desires. To understand better this place as more than just a land to sun and swim, that those who matter most are not the tourists, but those who call life, here.
There is much positive. Walking the beach. Morning yoga. High Tea at the old hotel. Catching up with a mentor I have missed. All the weddings to watch. A supportive talk with my Aunt who is proud of who I am. Touched.
We hike to Manoa Falls. It is pouring rain and a slippery adventure that gets my adrenaline pumping as I hop up the path. There is something liberating about being so drenched that staying dry is no longer a thought or option.
Zipping through the Land
I have always wanted more speed and could cruise those zip lines all day if allowed. Our guides are upbeat and their energy contagious. But I am surprised to find that this place and company are more than that. Situated on a farm that grows all kinds of produce, we are treated to tomatoes, apple bananas, nuts. We are taught that native Oahu used to be split up into self sustaining sections that stretched from mountain to sea and that the lines would be drawn to make each section as equal as possible in its resources. There was an old saying “if we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.” What could be more true and yet more ignored in todays world. According to our guides, with the modern consumer culture, if Oahu were to be cut off from the rest of the world, they could only supply essentials for 8 days. A bleak statistic in this world of natural and human disaster.
I find so much while others drive. Observing and taking my on the go photos (this means taking hundreds and keeping a dozen.)
A final sunset before saying goodbye. I meditate on the beach alone, while watching it. Should I ask with my hands to be grounded or to communicate? I know what I need and choose the ground of this land.
For those of you who don't know, each year I set many different resolutions, each pertaining to developing a different part of my life (health, acting, singing, spirit, home, etc.). I find it is a great way to keep a balanced life and not give too much or too little to any one area for a long period of time. I will admit that I don't accomplish all of them, however I do a pretty good job checking them off.
Today I finished one of the BIGGEST ones of 2015.
For a while I have really wanted to read more plays to expand my theatrical knowledge, and because I enjoy it! When looking for a place to start I decided why not my own apartment. My roommate and I are both performers who went to school for theater and have accumulated quite a collection of plays over the years. I had read very few of hers and probably about 2/3 of mind (1/3 of which I could no longer recall). I made it my resolution to read any play in the house that I had not read or could not remember well. (Now I will admit that this does not include the two large anthologies I own or my Complete Works of Shakespeare.)
Sitting in my room this evening I finished Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen.
This year I read 85 plays!
85 plays I am now much more familiar with.
They came from different time periods and places and embraced many forms. More than anything I have appreciated the opportunity to discover more of what I like and don't like in theater, and thanks to live performances I've seen and THEATER IN ASYLUM's Play Reading Series I continue to experience theater past the pages.
I'm feeling accomplished, but the project doesn't end there. I still have plenty to read between my kindle, and those previously mentioned larger books, and I suspect 2016 will involve some of that to further my personal education. Something to look forward to :)
We pull up to the place that will soon become the scene for a party. It is a hot day out, but stepping out of the car’s AC feels good, like a loaf of bread just beginning to toast. We unload, all nine of us, into the summer air of the Atlantic. We walk through a winding, confusing restaurant to a large, white, open tent along the water, filling up with the families of pride and sacrifice. Today is a day to celebrate and not to mourn (though the possibility is never far enough away). Today I have the boy with me, no matter what hungover, nostalgic, distant state he may be in. We are all tired, but happy to be together. This family is good at being together. Just being, without excitement or complication. They believe in laughter, teasing, and multiple courses, embracing both conversation and listening. Mostly short, but with healthy appetites that are contagious. A proud group, who denies all heritage accept the strongest one. And yet they have welcomed this Irish-American with a simple, “Are you sure you’re not Italian?” Indeed I am not, though it doesn’t matter much.
On this occasion there are other families with us and the tent fills with children yelling, embracing friends, beaming parents in mutual support, and the elderly looking on pleasantly. Lots of excitement and movement, but I adopt this family’s energy of calm, letting the party rotate around us. Are we really the center of it all or is it just a trick of dignity?
At some point I will need to walk away. Social gatherings always overwhelm me with the expectations. I need to remember myself in the crowd. As I walk the dock lined with boats, I notice a boat just like my Father’s and wish he would emerge from the cabin.
There is one thing I forgot. MY family. That’s me. I have my own loyalty in blood that made me. They too are enjoying a summer with sea, salt, and sand, and reveling in their own hopes and fears for the futures of their wonderful children.
This day there will be crabs breaking, cool drinks, and photos of a couple that haunts me, though I never have seen the finished proofs.
The photographer, another artist in the crowd, will bond with me over cities and culture. This is a discussion I can understand and master because it is my own passion. For the first time in what feels like a week, I actually recall who I am. Independent. Female. Artist. Where were you hiding? It must have been the haze of ceremonies, comrades, and humidity that made me forget my individual. A week as big for me as for them. After all my accomplishment was 23 years in the making. Yes, it happens to everyone in all kinds of ways unpoetic and accepted, but this lack of recognition makes me wonder if it happened at all. He is rightly distracted and I am left in confusion. I am only just now finding my footing and can’t contain myself in a place where I am so subservient. I don’t know if I am truly content or just lost and quiet with all the changes.
But the time is now for them and the thing is succeeded for me. I know I want to be with this group of brothers that makes me smile, because I too am bursting with hope for them. We are all sharing something, something I too am a part of—sacrifice. In the obscurity of tearing families apart to make them the strongest they will ever have to be, my sacrifice (that I refuse to call small) is forgotten and that is okay for now.
I will care for this family for long after our bond has been forced to end and pray that their sacrifice will be limited, even while they forget mine ever existed. And I still can’t answer the questions of that day slowly being washed away by time. The place on the bay I will never return to.
Some man gets on and finds a seat, not really speaking to anyone, is yelling about Ukraine and public events. very angry. about World War III coming. then the economy. Pent up fury of living and not being heard. upp, on to democrats being weak, “There’s no peace with these guys. There’s no peace.” Maybe he has the right idea.
“Let them kill each other. I don’t care.” I seriously hope this isn’t his real opinion, and yet can I really understand where this person is coming from and how these words came to be made. “What would I do if I were president? Look at John Kerry. He’s doing all he can.” He lists all the countries that are “fucked up.” What he thinks we should do?, “bomb the shit out of them—wipe them off the map.” Instead he claims, “What DO we do? Bomb the shit out of them and then REBUILD them.”
Pause. Is he done? Collecting his thoughts.
“They don’t want to talk.”
“I agree with Obama.”
Long pause. Then defeated, “For what reason I don’t know.”
“Anyway It’s beyond me. I have no control over it.”
The feelings of relief that this could be the end and compassion because at times I have felt the same overwhelming anger, frustration, and hopelessness, don’t have time to settle before he goes back to yelling. bombing it all away.
Rocking thoughts is a serious of short observations made on the New York subway. An interesting cross section and environment that is truly and as much this city.
We went for an evening in Tamarindo, finally leaving the resort, even though the tourism followed us there too. At a small outdoor street bar there was a live band with talented drummer and harmonica, people passing, people watching and lounging, a young couple dancing. The mood was cheerful after a long day in the 95 degree sun. Deep sleep was a given the entire trip.
Too Fast Return: Our final morning was a big breakfast and a final swim in the ocean of shades of blue and turquoise. My sister behind me on the beach, the flat water drowning me in its splendor and seeming permanence, returning home to the sapphire womb. I didn’t want to go.
I left a white cover up behind in the room and a debit card eaten in a hotel machine. I took with me some shells, rocks, and images in my mind. I desperately wanted to learn and see more, capture, experience more, soak up this place in a last ditch effort of more photos as we sped back to the airport, knowing it didn’t even touch the life beyond the window. We each paid $29 to leave. American dollars, in cash, to return to a plane and the airport we started at, of course with delays.
"As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together
and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows
for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design
how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence every day.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,
and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight
and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes,
sputtering into a field the farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,
is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.
But in this world, where something is always listening, even
murmuring has meaning, as in the next room you moan
in your sleep, turning into late morning. My love, this might be
all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget
what you are. There will come a day when the meadow will think
suddenly, water, root, blossom, through no fault of its own,
and the horses will lie down in daisies and clover. Bedeviled,
human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words
that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled
among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life."
The following are some of my favorite, thought provoking quotes from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, published in 1929.
"Have you any notion of how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?"
"Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price. Life for both sexes—and I look at them, shouldering their way along the pavement—is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion that we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself....Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the chief sources of his power. "
"Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."
"It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities?"
"Thus when I ask you to write more books I am urging you to do what will be for your good and for the good of the world at large....when I ask you to earn money and have a room of your own, I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, and invigorating life, whether one can impart it or not."