Sunday, February 19, 2012

Incident reports

I always get lost in Pearl City, always.  Give me counter-intuitive directions (the kind you remember, because they're backwards) one-half mile uphill from the H1 in Pearl City, and I'll turn the other way when I get there.  When I first moved to Honolulu I never failed to miss the airport exit; every time, I ended up in Pearl City.  Pearl City is the long strip of my bad driving dreams.  So, when I went to pick up paperwork at LCC the other day, it crossed my mind that I might soon be getting lost.  Driving downhill toward Kamehameha Highway, I spotted a very large cement mixer turning left across the road; we came nowhere near each other, but we could have.  He laid on his horn.  "I must have run a red light," I thought.  When I stopped at the next light, the one I saw, he pulled up behind me, laying on his horn again.  Having recognized my error, I threw up my hands.  We both turned onto Kam Highway, and he pulled up next to me, well before the next light.  I only caught one glimpse of him, his cab sitting so high above my Nissan Versa.  And then I heard the cascade of obscenities, raining down on the gray roof of my "little car," as one of his insults had it.  Something about "lady," and then less polite syllables.  I sat at the bottom of a waterfall of anger.  My mistake was a public transgression, but his words careened at me out of some nightmarishly private place.  Before looking to see what company he drove for, I quickly turned right, away from LCC, away from the large white truck, away from anger as large and hard as concrete.  It was then I realized I'd gotten lost.


I remember he went away to one of the wars and the girls cheered for him.  I remember he was in uniform that day and left the game early to go to his war.  Our war.  I remember he returned.  He started enjoying our conversations on the sidelines toward the end of practice.  Something about how he could afford so much more land and house in the west than here.  He told me in detail about the cost of square footage.  He explained something about the national economy I did not follow, how money is made or lost.  Said something about how war was not what we saw in the movies.  Then one day he appeared completely unsettled, couldn't sit still on the bench, told me how difficult life is, wondered how to clear his mind.  I told him how to meditate.  He flung himself on the ground, there and then trying to clear his mind.  He hugged me.  By the time I got to my car, I knew that was not it.  That was not it at all.  I gathered documents on-line, put them in an envelope for him, carried them around for a week or two.  He disappeared.  And then he came back.  "Oh so you knew what it was?" His eyes looked like they felt bruised.  "Did it hurt?" he asked me.  I almost laughed.  Did it hurt?  Every muscle in the body, every joint, every thought, every image, every breath.  Don't you wish you could say in ordinary conversation that you suffer? I'd asked my class earlier in the week.  "Did you get better?"  Of course I got better, but he asked again.  He didn't believe me.  He couldn't hear through his hurt eyes what I was saying to him about how there's another side, you've got to decide to get there, you've gotta put one foot in front.  He turned and walked away.  Came back from the other direction.  He looked quizzically at someone's teeshirt from close-up.  His eyes were those of a small child. 


On Kahekili (the highway named after a king of Maui) one day between Temple Valley and Haiku I was two vehicles behind a small black pickup truck.  The truck veered to the center of the road and then a pig appeared, crossing the highway, as big as the small black truck.  It reached the other side and ran up an incline back into the wooded area.  Kamapua`a?

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