There’s this thing peeps do here. Shaka. I didn’t know if it was for real. Thought it might have been from the movies or the past. But it’s really here. People do it all the time. Jim does it. I tried to do it but I felt like I was pretending. I was pretending, so it felt like what it was. I’ll just let it go, I thought, wait and see if it comes out my body naturally, you know. Even though I feel like a nerdy, little, white girl who doesn’t know how to shaka, I’ll just be honest.
Jim does it with the surfers. He used to surf down at Bowls and Shacks - a hardcore break in Puna. Puna is hardcore. An old Japanese woman rides with a shotgun full of bullets she fills with Hawaiian sea salt. That’s what I heard. I don’t know if that story speaks of the craziness of Puna or the danger. But regardless they are both kinda there in a remote, sticky, rainy, jungly way. Sometimes, often, we would go to sleep to the sound of animals howling, pigs being hunted, shots fired, mixed under the deafening sound of thousands of coqui frogs. We would walk deep through the vacant lots, leaves growing taller and higher, quieter and remoter, growing twitchy for big, nasty bugs on our feet and trigger happy pot growers just around the bend. You could hide from the world forever in there. A Maori dude I talked to last week said he bought land in Puna 20 years ago and sold it a wee while back for just the same as what he paid. Everyone says it’s about to go off, but it hasn’t yet.
Jim would surf down at Bowls and Shacks, a left and right off a black lava rock point. They say the lava runs right down into the sea just down the road a bit. Hot lava making the water steam, best see it at night when it’s all fire and darkness. Yeah, Eugene took him down and Jim was accepted in. Eugene has surfed there for years. In New Zealand we do a head nod and I think a bit of that happens at Bowls and Shacks too. At least when I think of Eugene taking Jim down there to surf I imagine Eugene head nodding to a few peeps and them head nodding back and Jim saying nothing but it being cool and maybe later someone shaka-ing someone. That’s how things roll here. With energy. Like everywhere, but with less words maybe. It reminds me of home, of New Zealand. It doesn’t remind me of California.
Jim told me about the shaka. He says it means hang loose, but like, “just keep it loose and real and go with what’s important–the peace and flow of things.” Those are my words not his. I have never heard him say, “the peace and flow of things”.
Anyhow, it has been months that I have watched people shaka and finally, the other day, one came out of me naturally. I was driving home. It had been a big, hard, exhausting, rushy kind of day. I was driving our car like I used to in the city - kind of charging, leaning forward, gripping the wheel, my head going a million miles. Here in Maui I notice a lot more kindness on the roads. Sometimes I sit at a red light and put an address into the GPS and when I look up the light is green. There are plenty of people behind me, but I don’t hear one hoot. It must have happened ten times at least by now. Also, people let people in and smile and the smile is different from how it is in the city. That smile seems to me like a “Hey, look at me, I just did my nice deed for the day, but I am gonna be thirty seconds later than I needed to be because of this generosity, but no, go ahead, please, wallow in my kindness, it’s cool.” It feels squeezed out of a something that is almost empty. Here it is like “Go love, go through, we don’t freak out here, we got time for each other, nothing is so important as to lose our kindness to each other, just go, there’s plenty of time, feel the love eh”. That’s the feeling. Like the smell of the flowers. I don’t know.
Anyhow, I’m driving back home from this gnarly, stressful day with a car full of crap and mess that I gotta sort out, and I am so desperate to be home and that’s cool, and I come round the corner in the twilight and there’s this guy coming up to the cross walk pushing a bicycle. And I just stop for him. I don’t have to, he doesn’t even know himself yet that he wants to cross - he is just getting there. And he turns around to look to see if it is safe to cross and sees me stopped there already, waiting and jumps on his bike, sails across the cross walk, turns back to look at me and shakas. My hand is hanging out the open window and the thumb and little finger stretch out at either end and it waggles, just like his did. And I watch it and smile. There is still a little bit of light over the sea and all the flowers are coming out, the smells that only come at night, and I smell them.