“What time is it?” I whisper to Katherine, the only lady at the monthly Game Night wearing a watch. There are ten of us here at Marge’s and this is our second round of Catch Phrase.
I was first invited by my friend Deborah. I had a great time in October, missed November, and tonight – December 3 – she just got up and demonstrated several 1960s dances (Twist, Watusi, Jerk and Pony) and our laughter rocked the entire 16 mile square subdivision.
“Eight forty-five,” she says.
“I said I’d be home by 9,” I say and a couple of the ladies across the table just howl at my curfew. We are all wild and whooping it up, sipping wine and munching pupu platters and staying out late. Still, half the women live in other subdivisions, one has an outside job, and yet another’s cat allergies have kicked in and her eyes are watering. Everyone agrees to wind it up.
By 9:30 I’m out the door with my empty cookie plate and a big slab of apple pie in a plastic box for the Bearded One.
The moon is huge, just 3 days from full. I see the constellation we call The Three Twinkly Ones – Orion’s Belt – clearly and think as I always do when seeing these three stars in a row of our three adult “kids,” all of whom were actually here together last month.
After they left, unsurprisingly, I felt a bit bereft, pondering life and my navel and badgering everyone for a definition of home.
NeNe, my swimming buddy, says home is where your beloved is. The Bearded One says home is where you don’t want to live anywhere else. Our younger daughter, the Nurse, says home is where her hair products and cat are.
I climb into the dark truck. It starts right up and stays started. Monday it was with Ed at Kolohe Car Repair on 19th Street getting its fuel pump relay replaced. Hawaii is hard on cars. Lava cinders grind the tires down, salt water and vog eat the paint and feed the rust, and the roads are rough. “Just gonna rattle the truck to death,” says the Bearded One.
On the other hand, it’s December and the weather is exquisite, in the 60s at night, low 70s during the days with sun rays and a trade wind breeze. These are the reasons we moved here 8 months ago.
I back out the pitch black driveway and swerve to avoid a pothole the size of a toilet. I think how Ed the Mechanic reminds me so much of Virge the Mechanic back in Washington, good guys who come to our house to pick us up since we have just one car. I don’t want to be in Washington, though, I think.
I feel tired as I drive through the dark. I weeded one of the pineapple patches earlier today while the Bearded One weed-whacked.
I can only imagine him trying to stay up for me. It’ll be 10 before we’re in bed. This with a man who went to bed at 2-3am most nights for the first decade or so we were back together. He shifted his clock for me.
I turn left onto Paradise Drive, past the piles of uprooted albizia trees from Tropical Storm Iselle back in August, and I’m halfway home.
One of the other Game Night women behind me turns right toward Pahoa, where the lava flow has picked up again after stalling out last month. “The vog set off our smoke alarm last week,” she told us between game rounds and pupus refills. She shrugged and smiled – what can you do?
The lava river has split and is oozing more toward us now, but it’s still miles away. A slow motion, months-if-not-years event.
And the feral pigs. One of which, a small black hog the size of a golden retriever runs in front of the truck as I turn onto our road off of Paradise.
The Three Twinkly Ones and the moon shine brightly above our house as I enter our driveway. It’s 9:40 and the Bearded One greets me at the door in his jammies – electric blue surfer boy pants. The house behind him is dark.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” I say. His eyelids droop sleepily and he mumbles something about being happy that I had fun as he shuffles toward the stairs.
“Here,” I say, “I brought you some pie. Maybe a few days’ worth.”
“Pie?” He looks at my outstretched hand.
He perks up, takes the pie to the kitchen and turns on the light. There is our new microwave oven, the smallest available at Target, but still uses lots of watts. Carefully he microwaves the pie, and then sits down by the window under the universe of stars and eats it all. There’s no place like home.