I was two miles from home when the phone call came. The screaming of my infant daughter blaring from the speaker on my phone nearly obscuring the groggy voice of my husband, “She needs you.” I hit end, cranked up the stereos volume, and pulled a u-turn.
The night before having failed to recruit anyone to wake up and watch the Perseid Meteor shower with me after the moon set, I decided I would grab the kids, some sleeping bags and head up to Koke’e. The three of us could watch debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet light up the night with bold streaks until daybreak obscured them. But alas waking at 3 am I was greeted by snoring, drooling kids. It was then the freedom of potentially being child free overwhelmed me. Driving off up Koke’e no longer seemed appealing. Cruising in the yard, drinking a tequila sunrise, watching meteors till the actual sunrise however seemed very appealing. I threw on a hoodie and walked outside. Terrible. No tequila sunrise, the meteors were streaking into street lamps that had me seeing bright yellow dots long after I looked away. I popped back in the house and let my husband know he was in charge of the kids. Then off I flew down the highway.
The phone call came before I had decided where to go. Arriving back at home, and buckling Rossi in the car I no longer felt free, I felt vulnerable. The night was no longer a dark canvas to a wondrous celestial event, it was a blackened plain inhabited by dangers I might not be able to protect myself and my daughter from. I went through the motions, keys in the ignition, shift to reverse, shift forward, foot sinking the gas pedal. “Remember who you are,” I whispered to myself. “You outran wild boars in the jungle and leapt off of a waterfall at two A.M. because all the bars were closed. Then afterward you scaled a rock wall to relax in a Jacuzzi. You can handle a little star watching with a baby.” My perfect memory shows up as I drive aimlessly. I was never so bold. I didn’t outrun a boar, I outran my friends (and thank God for that fence!) I didn’t leap off that waterfall, I stood atop the roaring beast with a flashlight to guide those who had back to shore. Presumably if they began to drown, as people often did there, I would jump in to save them. So there the truth was. I ran away from danger and held myself back from leaps of faith. I did however lead all those slowpoke, waterfall leaping adventurers over that rock wall to a relaxing Jacuzzi.
I found myself, wanting to feel the safety and security of the familiar, driving towards home. Not the place with a door I’d left behind, but my home away from home, the reef. A tiny parcel of sand that gives way to a labyrinth of sandstone and coral. A place that’s etched deeply into who I am.
Given the stone altars and occasional decapitated cats we find there I’m aware it’s a different place at night so I didn’t go on the back-road. We stayed on a secondary section of highway and kept right on going when the pavement ended in sand, my headlights sweeping past a man on a motorcycle. He was a businessman. I judged we would be a good 100 yards from him selling his wares though, and with the moon having set it was pitch black out. We wouldn’t be seen let alone attract attention. So away on the sand we went stopping at the waters edge. I hopped out, unbuckled Rossi, and grabbing a beach towel atop the RAV we went to gaze up at the night sky.
So how was it? Well, I want to say that I held Rossi as she gasped in delight watching with wide eyes as stars fell by the myriads. That I laughed as she reached her chubby hands up to the sky to catch them. That the sound of the waves crashing almost lulled us to sleep but then dawn came and a stunning sunrise devoured the night sky. The reality is I had an angry baby on my hands. She breastfed and then fell asleep. After 5 seconds of being sandwiched between her and the metal roof of the RAV my back started killing me. Uncomfortable as it was I didn’t dare move for fear of waking her and having her screams interrupt one of the motorcycle mans business transactions. Instead of enjoying the meteor shower I imagined the two of us running for our lives entering witness protection.
The reef wasn’t the same at night either, I was used to having it all to myself but it had half a dozen flashlights flickering on it, their carriers toting large buckets to fill with a harvest of nocturnal sea creatures.
Was it enjoyable? I asked myself on the way home. No. Would I do it again? Yes, because August the 12th of 2016 wasn’t just another predawn snooze fest that will fade into mundane obscurity. I will forever remember it as the night I held Nana Rossi in my arms while we flew through the debris field of the Swift-Tuttle comet, a predawn where I saw rocks from space bursting into flames over us by the thousands.
Thankyou!!! Thankyou so very much for having taken the time out of your day to read my blog, I hope you got a chance to watch the Perseid Meteor shower this year- but if not… there is always next year!!! It’s an amazing wonderful sight to see-one you won’t forget.
Sincerely, The Chauffeur