Hawaii (or you can go back)

I was gifted with the experience of living in Hawaii for three years.  I was 7 when we moved there and 10 when we left.  I did not then realize what I had been given.  I guess I thought everyone lived in paradise, but simultaneously I also knew I had lived somewhere special. 

We left on January 10, 1970.  It’s funny that I remember that date.  Our last act in Hawaii was to go to the bank and withdraw all our money.  While at the bank, my brother and I got on one another’s nerves.  I poked him.  He kicked me.  And tore a hole in the lace of my very “gourmet” dress.  I was incensed.  I was quite the fan of the Galloping Gourmet, a television cooking show hosted by Graham Kerr who was more often than not drunk.  Gourmet was the highest praise I could give anything. 

Hawaii was gourmet.

We arrived in San Francisco a week later via ocean liner.  The crossing had been rocky and my mother was inflicted with horrific sea sickness.  My brother and I had been left to our own devices for the most part and had the run of the ship.  I remember bits and pieces of that sailing, but the memories are not vivid like some of my memories of Hawaii. My mother describes disembarking in San Francisco as being like the Wizard of Oz in reverse.  We went from technicolor to black and white. 

I always vowed to go back, but not until I could do so with grace and style.  Hawaii is horrifically expensive if one isn’t lucky enough to live in military housing with access to the commissary – the military’s grocery store.

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Rose Quartz, Smooth Lava

My childhood—multifaceted – multiplaned – geometric planes.  Rose Quartz and Smooth Lava – pink and black – California and Hawaii – my formative years.  My innocent years. The years I thrived.

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

Rose Quartz

I am playing in our backyard.  Vista, California.  There is an orange grove beyond the fence.  I can smell the blossoms breathing sunshine on the breeze. The ground is scattered with pink quartz.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps my mother was turning soil for a new garden. But it shimmers in the bright scented sun.  The calla lilies of the old garden had not yet bloomed.  Later.

The rose quartz an ethereal glow next to the one large snail with spiral coils on its shell.  Also glistening.  Its slow movement across the fertile soil.  Pink studded.  Glowing and shimmering.  Pink quartz scents my childhood.

Smooth Lava

Kaneohe, Hawaii.  Black lava and green mountains and the red fires of Pele forging the rock. It too shimmers but only when wet. Often the surf pounds that lava—in some places for so long that it is smooth with no jagged edges and feels good on the skin. Bare feet and legs and arms, face turned to the ocean. In others, still jagged, much younger, you can almost feel Pele’s wrath.  Don’t take her from the island.  Just don’t.  The locals tell you.  There are signs.  And portents.  My childhood – a shimmering plane of my life. I miss the joy of smooth lava. The shimmering lava touching my skin, my heart.  Smooth lava – its touch in the bright sun warms my childhood.

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Trigger Warning: Child molestation

My clearest memories begin when I was about 8.  Things before that are just blurry snapshots of isolated events – none of them particularly memorable which makes it a mystery as to why I remember them.

Fifth grade is especially vivid.  At school, they had started a new program for 5th graders.  Funny, I remember the acronym SQ3.  It involved us going from classroom to classroom for different teachers.  I didn’t like it.  Though we didn’t know it then, I was ADD and that disruption of moving from one class to another was a form of sabotage.  While I remember my 3rd and 4th grade teachers, vividly, I have no idea who taught me in the 5th grade.  Mostly, I just remember moving from one class to another.  I do kind of remember the guy who taught us History.  I wrote an extra credit report on Marco Polo.  He questioned whether I wrote it or not.  He said it sounded too grownup.  I was shocked that he would think I had cheated.  I assured him I had written it. 

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Photo by Long Truong on Unsplash

I was reigning at Table 28 as usual.

The Inferno in Huntington, West Virginia was the area’s premier disco. Sleek, sophisticated, trendy – or at least as much as it could be in an old warehouse on a crumbling street near the river.

Its claim to fame was that each table had a red phone on it with a light fixture overhead emblazoned with the table number. You could call from table to table just by dialing that number. It was a new era in pickups.

My best friend and I weren’t even old enough to be in the place when we first started going. But we each dressed to the nines as was traditional with disco and pretty much behaved ourselves as far as the rules went. Donnie was a guy. We had an unlikely friendship, but a very close one. We were inseparable. Folks thought we were dating, but we weren’t. We were just good friends. Perfect friends. Completely accepting of one another.

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