“When I was on the lanai doing my workout this morning, I saw a snail climbing up the trunk of one of our papaya trees. I grabbed the snail stick and knocked it off along with about a dozen others. I’d put out some more snail poison but the renegade roosters think it’s treats and gobble it up.”
I said all of that over breakfast the other day and it struck me that just a couple of years ago, many of those words weren’t even part of my daily vocabulary. I’m still trying to figure out where we fit in our island life, especially as the pandemic forces us to keep our distance from it. This leaves us both with an ongoing feeling of life in limbo, one of Charlie Brown’s kites stuck in a tree, waiting for the winds of fate to work us loose and set us free.
I’ve been thinking about that forced disconnect from reality because of a recent Facebook post about magical realism, which I don’t think really counts as a genre. In my experience, there is plenty of magic in everyday life, just enough to offset the slings and arrows that life is hiding behind her back. It’s a lot like happiness, not something you can pursue but rather something that is already there. You just have to choose to see it, to allow yourself to feel it.
Maybe all of this is part of self-awareness. I am a hetero female; I have never had any doubts on those aspects of me. On the other hand, inside my head, that female is tall and dark. When Lauren Bacall lowered her chin and said, “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” alarm bells went off inside my head. There was an entire world in that line, a world I could never be a part of, a line I could never say. Inside my head, my swanlike neck supports a head of thick, dark hair. My eyelashes are as long as my legs, which cross elegantly at the ankles above narrow feet.
But that’s inside my head. In reality, I am small and cute, a hybrid of plump hobbit and pink baby bunnies cavorting on nursery wallpaper. My outward appearance is a constant betrayal of who I am on the inside. Maybe that’s why I so deeply resent mansplaining, or condescension in any form. Inside my head I am screaming, “Does my blonde hair really justify you treating me like a a child? Does me having to look at up your nostrils when we talk make you superior in some way? Can’t you see how smart I am? Don’t you know that its only by my good grace that I don’t blast you into smithereens with my laser vision?”
I can’t wear makeup without looking like a clown and I can’t reach the dishes on the upper shelf. But I can see the beauty in my own strength and the world I live in. I can marvel at the wild orchids that line our street and the songs the coqui frogs sing every night. I can gasp with awe at the festival of rainbows that appears when we drive high above the clouds on Saddle Road on the way to Kona. I can relive that feeling in the afternoon when the sun hits the crystal suspended in our front window and festoons our walls with hundreds of tiny rainbows. Every day, I can keep falling more and more in love with our pretty house with its pretty garden in the middle of a jungle on a tiny island in the Pacific ocean.
My life is no more charmed than anyone else’s. I just choose to see it that way. Half empty or half full. It’s your choice, too.