Sweat beads on my upper lip. Then my entire face seems to break out in moisture, followed by my neck and the middle of my back. We moved from Olalla, Washington on the 47th parallel, to a tropical island on the 19th. We’ve lived in Hawaii 4 months now, 2 months in this house. I haven’t sweat like this in 35 years.
“There’s mildew on my suitcase,” I say to the Bearded One, who sits on a folding chair beside the pile of solar panels in front of a fan in the dining room. When it’s hot, the secret is to sit still.
I’ve just come from the storage room where our friend worked this week on the new electric breaker box, and where all our clothes are stored, as well as the twin inflatable mattress that I just yesterday cleaned the bejesus out of. I did that while the guys – the Bearded One, our friend and our son – installed the solar framework on the roof.
The plan is to put the panels up this week, weather permitting.
“Oh, there’s also a pile of suspect mainland clothing in the storage room,” I add. “We need to just chunk ‘em.” I look my sweetie in the eyeball. His instinct is to hoard. “We need to move them on.”
“What about when we go back to visit?” he protests.
“Wearing mildewy clothes?” I say.
I’m still feeling a bit gritchy after the generator and water pump conked out last night and showers (or even spit baths!) seemed to become optional.
The Bearded One got it working again, thank the Goddess of Generators. I’m all for natural, I tell him, but even birds take baths! I have standards, I say. We may be hippies, but we aren’t dirty hippies. I’m learning how to live in this climate with 130 inches of rain a year. Which lessons include no upholstery, no enclosed cabinets or storage, hang as many of your clothes as you can, and get wool futons for bedding. Wool doesn’t absorb the moisture. It’s full of natural lanolin.
“And then there’s all these new tops,” I say and point to six lightweight, brightly colored frocks my sister, the Goodwill Goddess, mailed this week.
“Fash-un show! Fash-un show!” chants the Bearded One, grinning from his folding chair.
“Okay,” I say, a smile slowly spreading across my sweaty face, “as long as we sort your clothes, too.”
And so it begins, me parading around in feather-light cotton tops, mixing and matching with equally breezy bottoms. You need so few clothes here, really, I say, as the Bearded One heartily agrees. But it’s when his eyes twinkle and he tells me that he likes how I’ve gained some of my lost weight back that I start to have fun.
I like the weight back, too, I say, and then add, “Your turn.”
He has no trouble jettisoning the pile of undershirts and three precious wool sweatshirts, or two of his three long-sleeved dressy shirts, or even two of his three pairs of jeans. It’s not until he gets to his stocking hat, dickie and gloves, the staples of his life for the past two decades, that he is stumped.
“What if we go hiking up on Mauna Kea?” he says.
I look at him. “A dickie?” I say.
In the end, he puts them all in the give-away bag.
“I love to get to live with you,” he says, twinkling again. “You’re such an island babe.”
A drop of sweat drips from my nose, and I lick it off. “Yep.”