Sunday, February 19, 2012

SURRENDERING ISLAND-STYLE

I woke up early this morning to hit the road with my thumb in the air. I knew I needed to give myself a good hour at least to get from Kapaa to Kalaheo on the island of Kaua'i. The buses are on weekend schedule, meaning they run every 2 hours instead of hourly. My only hope to arrive on time for 8am yoga class was to hitchhike.

Talk about making yourself vulnerable. I'm almost 50 years old for God's sake. But not a rental car to be found until Monday. After all, we're on an island. When car rental agencies sell out, they sell out. It's not like they can drive them in from another county.

I tried raising my hand boldly at head level, walking backwards. I tried a milder shoulder height gesture. I tried walking sideways instead of backwards. I settled on a low thumb, hip level and slightly outward, open heart center toward oncoming traffic, and direct eye contact with drivers. I practiced metta meditation as I walked, wishing every person well. Still, it took me a good 30 minutes until a middle-aged local marble worker in his big red pick-up truck was willing to stop, and then was only able to take me about 1/3 of the distance I needed.

At the bus stop where he dropped me off, folks had been waiting since 6-something in the morning, and here it was, 7:30 already. Once again I put myself at the mercy of the community and stuck my thumb in the air but 8am came and went, with no bus and no stopping cars.

How can I complain, deeply disappointed to miss my morning asana workshop, but hey, it's the tropics, and here I am on a beautiful, breezy, sunny day instead of sub-freezing Wisconsin. Surrendering island-style means not everything goes according to plan. It means you can only get so much done and get so far in one day. It means you have to slow waaaay down.

The pidgin I overheard on the bus was music to my ears, which had grown used to nasal Midwestern accents. I soaked it in like I soaked in the sun to replenish my vitamin D appetite. I picked up a spam musubi, a nori-wrapped roll, in the convenience store and ate it as a rite of passage, re-entering island life, tasting my childhood.

Riding the bus, eating processed convenience store food, talking to locals on the street and in their cars, I shed my privilege, my expectations of efficiency, my pretense of control. I remove my mainland layers of not only clothing, but values of whiteness that I have internalized. I become that little brown girl again that I left in Hawaii in 1975. I sit on the curb and watch the boys in the skate park at the bus stop, talk to the grandmas, eat manapua and crack seed. The bus will come when it comes.