Apparently, Rob had trouble sleeping the other night and decided to list all fifty states in alphabetical order, creating an elaborate spreadsheet on his iPhone to keep track of this self-inflicted challenge. “There was only one that started with H,” he reported in a significant tone, and I could not imagine what he was referring to, chalking it up to a deranged genius getting his wires crossed. But when I woke up this morning, I realized he had meant Hawaii. Oh gosh, we are in America, I remembered for the first time since our arrival. I can’t imagine now what part of the universe I had been under the impression we occupied, but that country of lunatic politicians, inexhaustible consumerism, superhuman corporations, ubiquitous surveillance, and militarized police would not have been on the list. On this island of free spirits, everyone says hello or aloha at every encounter, with eyes that shine with warmth and acceptance. I have encountered no ego or ostentation, just a community of fellow travelers who behave with kindness, respect, and mutual service. There are a couple of Annoying People, as there are in every human civilization, but no one pays any attention to their personality tics, and I think this relaxes them enough to keep their provocations to a minimum. The worst I have seen is the mild and contagious self-congratulation of having the fortune or foresight to inhabit this Edenic land.
After breakfast today, I wandered down to the cafe then then, for the first time, to the stretch of shore across the street. There, on a flat point of land surrounded by palm trees and crashing waves, individuals did yoga or sat in quiet contemplation. The sky and water today were the purest of blues, in contrast to the grey rains of other days, and the ocean stretched into a featureless forever. I returned later in the day with Rob, and we walked up the road a piece, in awe of a landscape that, within a steps, ranged from lush to lunar. The flora here is so gorgeous, I noticed, when I could tear my gaze away from the sea; growing wild on the side of the road are many species sold as exotic houseplants back home, the kind I specialize in killing with brutal neglect. These gave way to heaps of lava boulders, remnants of past eruptions that pushed toward the sea in a fiery death march. We renamed Hawaii “the sharp island” after their jagged contours, and Rob said Oahu will be softer. I suppose I will find out tomorrow. I don’t particularly want to leave here, although I don’t have the slightest conviction that Fate has led me to reside in this area, a theory Ben and assorted others have espoused since we arrived; in fact, I know something different is waiting. But the appeal of this life is strong, and I have even made friends with the lizards, although I have tried to be very clear with them that this is not the sort of friendship that should result in unannounced visitations at all hours.