I talked to my mom last night. She’s coming tonight! We’re going to stay in a hotel near the airport and tomorrow morning get a shuttle and get on a plane to Maui. In September, I won two tickets anywhere Westjet goes. My lover at the time, she said, “Erin, you don’t have to take me just because we’re together”. That was generous of her. She’s like that, J. is. Perceptive and generous.
My first impulse was Newfoundland. I’ve long thought of “The Rock” as my spiritual home. Not least because people often hear my flat Prairie accent as an east coast accent. But Mom and I talked about it for months, and finally, she said that her friend recommended Maui, maybe we could go there. Okay.
I’ve got a wicked cold right now. dammit. Usually the annual bronchial event happens in November, but somehow i managed to evade it. I was getting a bit cocky, I guess. But Mom said last night, “Even if you sleep for two days when we get there, you’ll be in Maui.”
I never wanted to go to Hawaii. Never wanted to be part of that whole colonizing thing, even though i am implicated just by being a white woman born in North America. People who’ve been there said “oh, it’s beautiful, heaven on earth” and that it’s all laid back and chill and stuff. But Lahaina (where we’re going) is “kind of touristy”–which is also what Mom and I will be, “kind of touristy”, all big eyes and pale skin, wool socks slumping over sneakers. Well. mom will have compression stockings on, she fell a few days ago and is just now beginning to walk comfortably again. Getting old ain’t for sissies, said my Grandma. anyhow, it’s a town that’s become kind of pretentious with nostalgia, you know how that is? brick buildings and whitewashed siding and everything a bit too tidy, a bit too tucked in.
Powerful women in Hawaii, there were. Pele, the Volcano God (she’s a she, of course, this devourer of land, but i am resisting adding “ess” to her title, on account of “ess” and “ette” have a diminishing effect) rumbles along the Hana Highway and seethes under the seven pools and surfs the waves on her days off. Queen Liliuokalani the last Queen of Hawaii reigned fair and fierce with all her might until the White guys took over, wrote silence over the sounds of the ancient stories, took ownership of the children, added a price tag to bamboo and pineapple and even the white sand of the beaches. My friend who writes plays about women who’ve been disappeared under the histories written by men, she said that before Europeans came to the Islands, there was no currency, no written language and now ownership of children. What was time like then? when there were no marks to count the hours, but instead layers of stories to mark the movement of myth? when no one owns children, fathers do not rule, and mothers don’t get worn to raw nerves. maybe it was like that. I can’t imagine no written language. What must that be like? In the Hawaiian language the words are like the ocean, they mean many things, cover a lot of ground–‘aloha’ is gift and hello and goodbye and something that is not definable in written language or European language now so laden with structure and money and wars for more stuff. Polynesians had wars, and the Maori sailed away to Aotearoa and the Hawiian gods are fierce and vengeful or foolish and joyful. Like deities can be. i told Mom not to worry about the volcanoes. I’m pretty sure they only take virgins. She giggled.
Today I have this persistent dry cough that is wearing me out. Kept me from sleep last night, and has interrupted a few conversations today. When I was a little kid, Mom could keep track of me when while we were shopping by the sound of my coughing. at night before sleep she would rub my chest with vick’s vapo-rub and tell me stories about I can’t remember what now. Then she’d kiss my head and tuck me in.
Until I was in my late teens, i would turn on my side and rock back and forth and sing. Usually loud. Mom told me that she used to sit by my door to listen to the songs I would make up. I sang about taking the shape of an eagle and soaring over the earth and watching my friends play in the roads and the parks and the woods behind our house. I would sing about becoming a trapeze artist, or earning fame that went beyond my specialization, or riding horses headlong into the wind on a rolling plain outside of town. Random stuff. whatever came into my head i would make into a song and rock back and forth as i sang. Later, when transistor radios came along, i’d plug one earplug into my ear and rock back and forth to whatever distant American station i could find late at night. it was cool at night, because you could get signals from exotic cities like Houston Texas or places in Montana. I’d listen to the evangelist guys, like Garner Ted Armstrong all the way from Pasadena California. i liked Garner Ted. His name was kinda funky. and he said strange things like “Jesus could have been a mushroom for all we know.” I liked the cadence of his voice and sometimes the signal would weaken so there’d be the evangelical lilt under staticky snow and the lonesome rumble of the train along the tracks past the end of our block beyond the abandoned gravel pit behind Jensen’s house.
For an atheist, I have this complicated relationship with Evangelists and so forth. I always wanted to be an evangelical speaker. Sometimes my friend M, who is a believer type, she says I am an evangelical preacher. hah! I like that.
anyhow. i’ve drifted off again, i don’t know what the point of this post was now….but i’ll wrap it up. In less than four hours, Mom will be here, and then this time tomorrow, we’ll be in Maui. wow. I’m gonna try to listen for the right ways to do things, and pay attention. And I’m going to be really loving to my Mom, ’cause she listened to my made up songs and rubbed vick’s on my chest and gave me life–then saved it a few times. We are closer in age these days, ’cause of the way that time has of warping and shifting between parents and children as we all grow and age and our experiences bring us closer and further and wrapped around each other. For the longest time I was about 12 to her and to Dad. I’m a grown-up now though. I’ve saved some lives myself by now. me and my sister-comrades. I know my mom doesn’t worry quite so much as she used to about me. Not like you would for a twelve-year-old. maybe only like you would worry for a middle-aged single woman living in a big expensive city on top of a couple of fault lines. come to think of it, more than a couple of fault lines, in a metaphorical way…
Maybe i’ll post a bit while i’m away, but maybe not. it’ll be good for me to be away from the ‘net for while. I’m looking forward to more stories from Mom’s childhood. We’ll talk of Prairie winters while ambling along the warm beaches of the South Pacific. That’s gonna be weird. And lovely.