Three Short Stories

Last night, coming home from Hilo, I turned up my street and saw the fire of the lava blazing from over 2 miles away. I couldn’t resist going down there a minute longer. I drove right past my turn, and straight to the blockade that separates partitions the street from the lava below. And sure enough it was raging and unlike anything I had ever seen. 

There were several people at there, more than most other nights I’ve gone down. In some sort of reverse psychology, the more people down there the less the police and military police mess with you. So I stayed and stood with them watching it with them. It was fast and bright and spitting — hurling down its path. They say it goes 25 miles an hour, but it honestly looked a lot faster last night. My face grew hot from even at the distance. 

By the time I got home the sky, which usually glows red, was neon orange. 

This morning there have been nothing but helicopters flying overhead all day. I heard that there was another break at the summit, which caused the show last night. 

It is crazy to think that I’m here with it, not just on the island but in the neighborhood. The military police who guard the entrance to this whole area are getting stricter and stricter, asking me for my licenses and rental agreement when I’m driving with Luana, not letting anyone in who doesn’t have to be here. 

So as I stood down there last night, it felt so special. I have this piece of paper that no one can get, that gives me access to this show that hardly anyone else gets to see.

 

 

This afternoon, I decided to conquer the shower, so I did what I’ve seen my mom do a million times before — I hacked off a piece of my broken tube, grabbed everything else that I need to buy so I’d have a reference, walked into Ace Hardware and found an assistant to guide me around the store and tell me what I needed to do. 

Now, my fingers are burnt from trying to manipulate the plastic tube up and into position by softening it with my lighter. 

I have a cut on my thumb that I have no clue where it came from. 

I had two splinters, and a gnarly spiderweb incident that won’t be forgotten any time soon. 

But do you know what else I have? 

A working shower. 

I include a finished product shot below. It’s not the prettiest picture of all time, but it feels so good. 

Hopefully, (hopefully, hopefully, hopefully) the fix lasts.

 

 

I’ve been here two weeks now, and last Friday I talked about all I had learned. This week had its lessons too:

I’m learning how to handle things on this farm — to not avoid them but to meet the challenge and apply duct tape where my expertise runs thin.

I’m learning that yoga is not only something that’s good for my mind and soul, but gives me a sense of place, in and out of my body. It helps ground me, center me, align me. 

I’m learning that part of what I’m ‘doing here in Hawaii’ is to get clear on the vision for what I want to bring forward into the future. I’m looking deeply at what I can contribute and serve to those around me.

I’m learning that independence is not a car but a mindset. That it’s easy to travel mindlessly and a lot harder to travel with intention. 

I’m learning to be at peace with looking up at my ceiling and thinking, without having to fill my time with books or talking or Instagram. 

I’m learning to love and let go. 

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Farm life

The past few days here have definitely improved. I want to say it was 'little by little' but in a way, it really feels like an overnight kind of thing. 

I think the autonomy of my car, the habit of yoga, meeting a few more people, having the lady at the cafe say 'scone today?' like she knew me, all helped me this feeling like I'm starting to belong hit me at once, and I'm here for it. 

In that way, I feel like I can handle the 'realities of farm life' in stride instead of it hitting like another wave when you're already getting pummeled, which I'm so thankful for, as there have been a few things kicking up lately.

First off there was the vog (volcanic fog) which settled in two nights ago as I slept. The sulfurous gas coming in from the open windows, and cracks in the wall all night long have left my lungs feeling heavy and my brain hurting for the past few days. Unfortunately for this one, there is no real solution. My gas mask protected me some, but also smelled a bit moldy. As I laid there struggling to sleep and breath, I wondered which was going to do my lung more harm...

The second reality of my farm life is the fauna, as I'm all too eager to write about regularly. The HUGE rat in my house has had a price on his head for weeks now but it has been diligently avoiding the poison I put out for him. So for the last few days, I've been crawling under my house, hopping up on chairs, taping entry holes from one end of that place to the next so that new residents don't find him sniffing their baby one night. Today, I'm off to Ace to buy some double-time poison and a few more bananas I can sacrifice. 

Finally, after all that, I woke up this morning and walked past my new-to-me shower SPRAYING water everywhere (thank god it's an outdoor shower.) The pipe has split. I told Mikaya and she's sending me to Ace for that as well. That one is hanging over my head a bit, even if I had all the pieces I have no idea how to fix it, but the challenge is there, so why not try to meet it?

Last night as I was looking around at my little cabin, I noticed all the repairs and cleaning I've done to it in the past two weeks. I can definitely say I'm leaving it better off then I found it. Now, that I'm moving to this new one, I have a chance to do that again. To make improvements, to settle in, to fix things, and to make it comfy. Which is actually a pretty fun project to line up for the weekend. 

 

Today I'm in Hilo again, with a good day ahead of me here. I'm going to do some work and eat some lunch at this cute cafe right on the street. I'm going to buy my groceries again and meal plan for the next few weeks. I'm going to my other yoga studio again. I might even drive to the beach to kill time. Simple.

 

"You're here because you aren't there"

Today was a whirlwind.

I woke up early and went to a yoga studio at a retreat center near-by my house. The people were good, it was cheap, and I felt like I understood why it was so important for me to go to yoga every day in April. It was like my future self, my NOW self, reach out through time to me then and said: "a commitment to this community and to this practice is gonna come in handy real soon, why don't you get started now?" I loved every minute of it. It felt for the first time like there were people around me I could get to know, like, and enjoy (other than Luanna). So, I'll be doing that from now on. 

I came home in a huge high from that experience, feeling like the settling in period was happening, slowly maybe, but I was getting the hang of it...

When I received an email from Mikaya saying my cabin had been rented and I'll need to move out of it and into the smaller one up the hill in 10-days. This was pretty devastating. 

There is A LOT wrong with the smaller cabin, the short list (and by no means the complete lists) is: 

- No attached bathroom or shower
- No kitchen (fridge + stove) but there is a cooler...
- Fire ants infesting the bed. (Infesting may be a stretch, I've been spending a lot of time up in this cabin because it's the one that gets the best internet, so I will say I only get bite by fire ants 2-3 times a day...)
- 1/4 the size but without all of its walls attached so mosquitos come right on it.  

It's a lot to wrap your mind around living in. 

But, this is another one of those 'lessons taught by Hawaii'. You can't hold on to things here, everything is temporary, everything is fluid. The people whose houses are being rundown by the volcano have ALL said to me, "well, our land is on loan from Pele." They don't take it personally, they adjust. So I too must learn the lesson when trying to make a space for yourself here, it's necessary to be flexible and move sometimes. 

And, in another 10-days I'll come up here to this cabin. I'll resettle in, clean it up, I'll have fixed the ant problem (!!), and get it looking good for myself. Another challenge. 

Heartsick over the news of having to move, Luanna and I skipped work and went to the beach so it could work its magic on my soul. It recentered and aligned me, got me feeling ok about being here again. It made me realize how happy I am that there is a place nearby now that has warm water, black sands, and blue skies. 

Every minute here, anything can happen. The days feel long and eventful even when they're simple like this because so much is changing and moving every second of every day. My mind goes a million miles an hour feeling deeply into "why" for everything I'm experiencing like a 3-year old, but I know it's good for me. I can feel its shifting and changing in my soul.

 

"You're here because you aren't there" is the official-unofficial slogan of Pahoa, which just feels like one of those classic jokes the universe plays on you when you ask yourself the same question too many times hoping for different answers. 

Chasing the blue(s away)

After the high that was Friday, it only goes that Saturday and today would feel substantially lower. 

The gray rainy skies really took hold of me this weekend as I saw picture after picture of warm, blue Summertime-Portland, or even Kona where my new friend Luanna spent this weekend. 

I, AGAIN, found myself wondering "what am I doing here...?"

To which my internal voice would answer, "learning, seeing, being"

To which I would ask, "ok, ya, but HERE, what am I doing HERE?"

And that question is still up in the air. Do I need to be in Pahoa where it's gray all the time? Could I go to another part of the island, another country and spend some time in the sunshine? Clearly, there has to be some reason I'm currently right where I'm at...right?

 

In my utter unease at the gray, gray skies, I hopped into my car and started driving towards the blue in the distance. I drove, and drove, and drove until I hit a tiny winding road, almost like a rollercoaster at a kid park. Bounding and weaving through jungle trees, blue skies above, blue ocean beside me, warm breeze through my windows, and slowly sanity returned. 

I felt the last two days of anxiety and restlessness sitting heavy in my chest. So, I pulled over and sat watching the waves crash on the rocks below.

I realized — Having this car gives me a pressure to find the things around me that will make me happy, but if I stall out because it's too far away, or too expensive, or I don't know what I'll do once I get there, then I get caught a circle feeling bad. Feeling unsure of how to spend my time, feeling unease. 

"But happiness (as we all know) doesn't come from without but from within," says the wise, hermit version of myself.  So it starts to beg the question, "why is it my default to feel 'meh' about the decisions I make?"

Why do I struggle to feel satisfied with the outcomes of my choices?

When you get down to it, I've made the most out of a few rainy days over this weekend. 

I've spent a good bit of it in the sunshine, I read my book at a cafe for hours in the warm sun in Hilo (while it down poured over here.)

I found the ocean. I sat on that rock and realized for the first time how much the waves crashing below look like fireworks. And now my hair is sticky and smells of sea salt. 

I cleaned my cabin from top-to-bottom. I created a place for everything, hung hooks, blocked off a rat entrance point, beat out my rugs, the works.

I went to a new yoga studio and made a commitment to return 4 more times by buying a 5-punch pass.

I explored. I got to see a new area, I went to a kombucha bar and read some more, I talked to nice people on the side of the road, and in all things, I did my best. 

This is all part of an ongoing lesson here, of battling thoughts that aren't serving me, of needing someone else to make choices for me, of learning how to hear what I want to do and embracing it. Of allowing what ever happens TO BE, and not holding what I've done up to anyone else's standard. 

 

Things I'm looking forward to this week:

  • Yoga tomorrow at the studio down the street from my house at 8:15, maybe I'll meet some new people:) 
  • I'm going to switch my car out (already!? I know...) but this new one will be better, so another trip to Hilo.
  • I'm going to go to a Saturday market like event with Luanna and her boyfriend on Wednesday (hopefully,) which will also be fun because he and I haven't met yet. 
 The gray skies encroaching on the blue that I found

The gray skies encroaching on the blue that I found

Independence Day

Today I’ve officially been here a week and a day, and it’s hard to think of very many weeks in my life that have been as trying as this one — there are only a few that quickly come to mind. 

But while it has been incredibly difficult it has also been so good. Here is what I’m learning:

I’ve learning how to create the space and reality I want to live in through trusting myself, my heart and my intuition.

I’m learning how strong and resilient I am when things get tough. Looking over this week, I stepped into each day confidently and sure of myself, something that could have only come from within.

I’m learning how to ask for help, receive help, appreciate the help, and acknowledge help from everyone around me all the time.

I’m learning how to move slower, to listen, to accept the timing of things and to be patient with allowing things to show up for me in the right time.

I’m learning to honor my mornings each day, with a check-in and a cup of coffee and no distractions.

I’m learning about the personalities of geckos, how silly they are with one another and with me — I’m learning about all sorts of fauna at that, rats, mongooses, cockroaches, mosquitos, fire ants…

I’m learning when it’s ok to push myself further, and when I need to step back, go to bed, let go, read an Agatha Christie book. 

I’m learning how to control my thoughts so that I don’t choose the ones that are anxious or scary, but instead choose to believe that what will happen will happen with ease, that I will always be safe, that I am here for my highest good. 

I’m learning how to fry an egg every morning, and how to troubleshoot things that are broken, to hitchhike.

I’m learning how to make new friends and appreciate them for the life lessons they’ve lived, hear their truths, encourage them, and to stand in awe of them despite their age. 

 

I realized all this and more as I DROVE home today after finding a rental, having all the money in my bank ready to pay for it, managing the logistics of getting to it, applying (and receiving) for a new neighborhood pass, and sitting there with the full weight of how much I did today and this week washing over me. 

Today I also saw the beach in Hawaii for the first time, and today I stepped foot in the ocean, and today as I drove up to the big house the ladies inside clapped for me and yelled “happy Independence Day, Ally!” ** which meant everything to me. 

 

 

** When I booked my ticket here, landed on the 4th of July. For the time leading up to me going when someone asked “when do you leave?” I’d answer “July 4th, Independence Day!” Who knew I'd still have to wait another week for it, though?

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Today I made a friend

A few days ago I was picked up walking down the road by a nice older couple, who said their grandson and his girlfriend were looking for people my age to hang out with. That the girlfriend worked on her computer and needed a co-working buddy. 

Obviously, I was thrilled. 

Until she added 'they're visiting before they start college in a few weeks.' 

Yes, dear ones, my new friends in question are 18 years old. Why is it that everyone around me is 18 or 80? The worse part still is I lied to her and told her I was 25 because being a whole 10 years older than her made it feel impossible that she would want to still hang out with me. 

Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? 

Today in their AMAZING house — which is more like a glorified treehouse, perched at the tops of the jungle— I sat, in their warm comfy home, on their blazing fast internet, while a nice older woman made me tea and I felt so alone. More so than any other point so far. 

I hadn't really realized the gravity of this WHOLE thing until then. Cute, sweet Luana (my new friend) has this family to look out for her. She has this home that is warm and it has all of it's walls. She has tea that is made from water that comes from a faucet (I haven't figured out where to fill my water jugs yet, clearly it's hanging over my head...)

And it HIT me — everything I signed up for in doing this, all of it, is going to be a struggle, and the reality of that feels so daunting.

What a silly thing for me to do!

It's ALSO funny, that the most challenging thing my subconscious mind could think of to lead me to is an island in the middle of the Pacific that has no access to anything and rains all the time. I don't know what it says about me, but I'm pretty sure it's hilarious.

**Seriously though, if you look at a weather map over all the islands of Hawaii, it is only raining over my neighborhood, and it will continue to do so indefinitely.**

I know this post is me little feeling sorry for myself, but in the 'Phases of self-discovery,' I think this is one of the phases. 

What am I doing here? I think if I knew, then the struggle would be worth it, but I'm not even sure what outcome I'm looking for is and that bugs me. It makes me feel like all of this is just struggle for the sake of struggle, which seems silly. 

 

On happier notes:

1 — I've found some mosquito netting which has made for a new, fun hobby of laying protected from an army of mosquitos out to get me and really feeling like the superior species.

2 — In a previous post I mentioned that there were very loud birds at night. Well, it's recently come to my attention that those, of course, are geckos. Incredibly LOUD geckos that chirp and squeek and click to each other once the sun goes down. Last night one member in the family of geckos who lives in my cabin chirped so loudly next to my ear he woke me up. I took that as payback for almost stepping on him earlier that day. Fair is fair. 

 

The Day I Forgot Everything On My Shopping List

I didn’t do much all yesterday, to be honest, just recollected myself. At the time I felt guilty for laying around, catching up with people and work — but now I see just how desperate I was for it. 

There are so many problems to figure out here, and if you don’t take them slowly or if you try to rush through you end up making bad decisions. 

Yesterday, I was so caught up in needing to figure out all the have to’s I missed the fact that I was giving myself some much-needed space. 

Today has been a take 2 on that same lesson. 

The one thing I set up yesterday was a car for this morning around 11, so like clockwork, my neighbors asked if I wanted to see the volcano at 10:30. I had to go. 

I stood with my neighbors at the volcano for 30 minutes, in total angst about being ‘late,' and in turn only quickly catching the river of lava rushing 100-feet away. 

But the thing about Hawaii that everyone says and I’m just now getting, is this isn’t the way time flows here, you are never late or early. So as I stood worrying about my ‘lateness’ my driver was held up by one of the many deluges (that haven’t stopped all day).

I arrived just as I was supposed to, 10 minutes late and on time, and together we went to pick up my placard to get back into my neighborhood. 

The placard ordeal had me anxious, more than any others. So I told myself over and over it would be easy, that my driver would suggest that we also stop and get groceries and that the guard would let us both back in so I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. 

And like magic, it all fell into place. 

Maybe it’s a stretch but I think that’s one piece about what I’m supposed to ‘get’ by being here. We have a choice for how we approach situations, people, plans — we can worry ourselves sick, or we can let go and fall into the fact that we can’t control the timing of anything.

I can literally feel how much more high-strung I am that everyone around me. In Safeway today, I was bobbing and weaving while everyone waited in line after line through the isles. Letting me cut them or move around them, and there’s something to be said for that. 

What’s the rush? Being busy, rushing through life, rushing through projects, years, relationships — the slowness I think will be good for me if nothing else. Healing to my constant need to go, go, go. 

Now I’m home the rain has not stopped or let up all day. So, I have a choice now at this moment, to rush into the next experience — freak out about what I’m going to do with myself, or relax and drink my beautifully hot cup of coffee, sit and read, maybe work, but ultimately try to be just a little more present. 

Type 2 Fun

In the airplane, for hours over the Pacific, I felt a little like Schrodinger's traveler. I both knew where I was going and didn’t at the same time, I knew I would get there and wouldn’t.

I arrived in Hawaii yesterday after wading through a million challenges, that all turned out to be very easy. 

I found a ride to Mikaya's house, 2 hours away, with an odd but decent guy, whose car slipped out of gear regularly and whose front window had been broken out. 

He took me to a grocery store to get food because I literally didn’t have any and it’s 5 miles away by bike. 

I made it past a military blockaide to get into my neighborhood nearby the volcano.

Everyone was away, so I got to acquaint myself with the property without running into anyone. 

I found my cabin, figured out how to give it electricity, hunted down the wifi, did some work and at 7 pm I went to bed. 

But the island doesn’t sleep much. 

The birds were just as active at 2 AM as 2 PM. Storms rolled in one after another sending buckets of rain onto my tin roof. And the red glow from Pele down the road looked like a wildfire moving towards me. 

One thing about being somewhere where you don’t know anyone is that you can feel really out of the loop. I had no idea what to expect from Pele or if what I was seeing was normal. Maybe no one else was on the property because they knew better and left? I comforted myself with the fact that the dogs were still here. 

This morning I was relieved to meet one of the women. It was nice to put a face to a name, but I don’t think in the scheme of things they will be much help — which means a lot of figuring out everything on my own. 

Today I have to:

Figure out how to get my placard pass back into my neighborhood

Contact some people about renting a car, I’m being hit with the harsh reality of what it’s like not having one. 

Buy real groceries and bug spray (really wishing I had thought to pack my tea tree oil)

Keep cleaning the soot off all my surfaces. 

 

It’s surprising to me how much like Ecuador this whole experience is so far. The land looks like Ecuador, the air is thick and heavy and smells like Ecuador, the volcano is greeting me like in Ecuador. But unlike Ecuador, I can see the difference 20+ counties and 8 years has given me. I'm overwhelmed by what I have to get accomplished but it's not undoable. I know it will be done. 

Mostly though, I'm tired. Everything feels like more of a challenge when you're tired, so I'm trying to take it easy and breathe through these first few days without a lot of expectations.