DIE LIKE A HERO GOING HOME

 

I am charged and not sure what I might do. Nothing makes sense and this is more accurate than I’ve ever understood life to be. See, it does make sense. Which means the rest up to now has been half-watt. My body quivers and my heart rattles like a snake in warning.

I don’t hear them as they hug me and put a sweater over my head even though it’s sweltering. Watanabe acknowledges that I know and Kana nods while his auntie hands me taro wrapped in ti. Satomi hovers behind my left shoulder. She tells me to go into the fields and get away from all these crazy people.

Mt. Wai’ale’ale looms like an apocalyptic tidal wave and the moon is so bright the lawn's like a stadium. There’s a rustle and a squeal as a family of boar run away into the bush, startled by my footsteps through the grass. My heart is broken, on fire, singing, and exploding all at once; I don’t know how what she’s said is possible. 

Further and further into the orchard toward the cliff edge to the steep waterfall below. The river of the ancient royals--protected by the kapu--carves a cliff path on which I stand. I wind through acres of citrus, avocado, papaya and banana. I disappear behind a large lychee tree and a thicket of bamboo. Completely mesmerized, I walk deeper into the thicket toward the direction of the cliff’s edge, furthest from the house. Spider webs multiply in fingers of moonlight and the faint path hides in shadow.  I have just been face to face with death and I have learned that you don’t really die when you die.

I stop at the cacao fields. Their large yellow and red pods as big as footballs, some coming straight out of the trunk and hanging heavy, five pounds each. I see a machete leaning against a spicket and pick it up like I know all about machetes. I snap off a pod, whack it clear in half and sit down on the wet grass to eat the insides. Kana’s pit-bull has found me and stalks around in a circle before laying down near the cat acting as a guard in this wild darkness. Her eyes reflect the glint of the moonlight and I am happy she’ll stay nearby. I can’t do humans right now. I wouldn’t even want Esmé.

Even though the beans are bitter I eat the entire pod. Some people are convinced that eating the fruit raw is akin to taking a form of ayuhasca or peyote and that there’s a spiritual transformation that will enter one’s life after eating from the yellow pod, but I know if there’s any sort of spiritual transformation it will be from talking with my dead grandmother.

The theobromine and dopamine are flowing. I sit straight and cross-legged with the cat at my side and we listen to the river rushing below. I buzz with the night elements. Even though it’s been less than 24 hours my Los Angeles life seems as if a dream drifted out to sea and broken into fragments of driftwood, headed for a channel that will carry them into the deep blue. She was saying something in the guess what’s. Guess what, she was saying. Guess what.
What?
Guess what. You’re already dead. Guess what, you’re already dead! She is laughing at me now. 
Silly child.  You’re dead.  Listen to the night when it’s speaking to you. Remember who you are.
She’s whispering in my ears, all this way, she’s come and found me. She is in the wind and in the grass and inside of me.
Guess what, little mochi-cake? She’s inside my head.
I blink and become a half-sphere.
You’re already dead.



title of post from quote by Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Nation

Hope In Freeze

Boise left me dry with its alpine glow and a giant blow-up elf deflating in the middle of Shenandoah Drive. It left me filled with the screams of a deaf girl bouncing on her trampoline— her dolls flying up and down with her, she obviously possessed of the Christmas spirit, her apparition bobbing over a wooden fence like a jack-in-the-box. We were lost in the suburbs, trying to find good Christmas lights to stare at.

I walked my cousin’s bichon and kept looking for one of the recently-spotted cougars, feeling guilty, and all the while I’d never heard such an almighty silence in those hills. The only sound was from the rotating heads of mechanical reindeer creaking against the cold in the neighbor’s yard down the hill. I thought I had poisoned their dog when it ate the entire box of chocolate-covered macadamias sent from Hawaii. Animal Poison Control assured me if it wasn’t already dead then it would only puke later and so I was on a walk to make peace with Sparky’s stomach. I sighed into those rolling hills and watched the alpine glow for signs of the Second Coming. When was it going to come?

I wanted Jesus to come back and I wanted Joseph Smith to come back too. I wanted to have a meeting up there in the hills at Table Rock, a plateau with an erected eighty-foot cross overlooking all of Boise and discuss this thing we do when people we love die.  Why not meet there and put our heads together.

I was there long enough to know Hope is waiting to die . She has given up all of it, hope and faith, in exchange for the comfort of “ashes to ash and dust to dust.” She wanted to talk spirituality withme, but only to push it over and stomp it out. Devout Catholic her whole life, and then Methodist, even when she had to sneak to church. But now, not so much. So maybe Jesus and Joseph can help her figure out what the problem could be. What’s the hold-up she wants to know, what’s the dealio; she wants to go.

I was there long enough to watch the cougar stalking me as I sat behind the glass on the hillside with bubble lights, Veuve Clicquot, and rotting Mogan David pudding. Outside, she paced back and forth on the cold stone pews that had been carved into the side of the mountain and her courage impressed me. I approached from inside where she couldn’t see me and I don’t know why I did this but I breathed onto the glass in front of her. Feeling my heat she backed up and wound down to the old penitentiary that had been converted into a drive-thru Christmas light garden. I watched her retreat, and wondered what she did when a member of her pack died.  I was marking my territory.

The following day I climbed to Table Rock with the Dire Straits. When I reached the top there were no cougar sightings and I meditated on the city.

Later, I went with my mother to a 3-D Imax movie. The small child next to me knew every single word to “Our Lord Jesus” and my mother kept trying to catch the snowflakes as they fell on our noses. I wondered if Hope was ok by herself and wanted to leave this predictable script.  I felt it was all the more important I talk with Jesus. I wanted to feel it at the heart. After the movie we stopped at WinCo for more food. While my mother was pushing a super cart I waited in the car. And that’s when Jesus and Joseph walked up to me.

“Hey guys. You’ve finally come.” It was all pretty normal.

They handed me some coupons for Fuji film, for my memories they said.  They went up to the next car to distribute their coupons and put them under the windshield wipers.

I cried until my mom came out with about 100 rolls of paper towels and a four pack of rice chex.

I was there long enough my last day to hold Hope up and tell her she was never alone and only full of love. I laid her back down against her bed pillow and she wept, saying that her body was done and she was done. I didn’t want to leave her but I felt like the cougar outside the glass with death breathing on it from the inside. I didn’t want to stay either. I wanted to wander into the bush and not feel it all too much. 

I was dropped off at the airport and sat at the gate for the next four hours until they un-cancelled the flight. Next to me was a man who drank a vodka tonic and we smiled a lot and told each other of our woes. When we’d landed back in California and it was over we did the shrug, the empty goodbye smile. And through all of that, the only thing I am sure of was the wild deaf child dancing with her dolls in the middle of the freeze.