Honestly, I’m in a nonfiction class at this moment. My writing prompt that I chose is plumeria lotion. And to be completely honest, my nose is rather stuffed-up today, which is most inconvenient to say the least. But we will do the best we can; the muse shall cooperate with me whether it likes it or not.
What is plumeria?—It is Hawaii. It is stepping out of the air-conditioned jet into blissful heat and fresh air. I’m with my family and we’re visiting the Ruanaidh family. I decide to wear jeans and a tank top, despite my mom’s warning that I would roast alive with long pants on. Washington is cold for about nine months out of the year, I wouldn’t mind roasting alive for a day. Besides, if it bugs me too much, then next day I will be in shorts.
Anyways, plumeria means Hawaii, and Hawaii means the Ruanaidh family; you can’t have Hawaii without the Ruanaidh, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. I’m sixteen or so, and the rest of us kids range in age down from there. I’m the oldest, but not the tallest. Rowena has gotten much taller than me, as has Ithel; Kevyn hasn’t sprouted yet and is the same height as Ian. We’re still kids, so that means fun. Ian is shaggy-haired which suits Hawaii; I think Kevyn is too, maybe Ithel as well. Rowena has her hair shoulder-length as always, and my hair is rather long.
There are so many memories; I’m not sure what to write first. Hmm… Perhaps the fan blowing as you gently fall asleep. Perhaps Rowena and I sharing secrets and wondering what our weddings will be like when we grow up and our princes comes to us. We decide that it would be nice if we could get married before the Rapture happens. Then we giggle and take turns taking silly pictures of one another with my camera. I cross my eyes and stick out my tongue a bit. I have a nice picture of her that I remember; she is smiling her nice Rowena smile, and her head is tilted just a bit.
The boys are being rambunctious. They play some sort of game with toy guns outside while Rowena shows me around the house. She tells me about the doves with zebra stripes and how they are always fishing them out of the house. She says that later we can all play in the swimming pool. It’s Kevyn’s birthday, if I remember correctly. We’re playing a game with cups on the kitchen table; Ithel is being bothersome and messing up the rhythm by turning the cups over, then Thomas begins to do it too. Sheesh; brothers. Rowena tells Kevyn to cut it out, or perhaps she joins in the fun, I can’t remember.
Then we all play in the swimming pool. We have a grand time of it, practicing doing a whirlpool and then playing Blind Man. Ithel has this ridiculous look on his face; I can’t look at him without laughing. Then he pretends to sneeze and dunks under the water to reappear a moment later with an even more absurd grin on his face. I burst out laughing. Kevyn and Ian begin sneezing too, and Ithel lunges at them. Rowena and I squeal, and there is a great splashing as we all rush to get out of the way. Rowena tackles Kevyn. I feel a little self-conscious; aware that I’m not a little girl. I try to play like Rowena does, but I don’t feel comfortable with it; but then again, I am a bit older than her, by a year and a half I think.
We all have a grand time; I think there are stars out. The next day we awaken pretty early in the morning. It feels like the best sort of summer. We’re all barefoot and in T-shirts and shorts. We know that soon we will go snorkeling. I’ve never been snorkeling though I’ve had dreams about it. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in water that is clear and full of sunlight instead of murky, and nice and warm instead of like ice. The Kerrs have visited the Ruanaidh earlier in the year. Treasa told me the water was about as warm as bathwater; I am content.
It turns out that snorkeling is everything it’s cracked up to be. Rowena and I are swimming buddies; we develop a method of communication. When we’re in the water our mouths are full of the plastic from the mouth-piece, so we must use hand gestures. Sometimes we forget the intricate gestures we agreed on before entering the ocean, and we just gesture frantically or try to brush the other on the shoulder when we see something neat.
It’s so weird; you just walk out further and further into the waves until you are submerged, and then you’re floating like a mermaid. We rise and fall with the waves; floating above the seafloor below. The coral reef is amazing; it’s like a maze, with a million hidden places to explore. There are neat fish. I have a water camera with me, though it has a limited amount of film. Rowena and I try to get pictures of each other; we find it is very difficult with the movement of the waves.
The veins of sunlight on the white sand and coral below fade and twist and vanish. The water is such a lovely turquoise, and so very warm. A creature moves toward us; it looks so ancient, and it’s rather large. If it wasn’t so slow, I would be afraid. Rowena and I see it about the same time and are ecstatic. We forget we can’t talk and began to make weird sounds into the snorkel that were probably supposed to be words. But we pretend we understand each other; in many ways we do—we are both beyond excited to have actually seen a sea turtle. We follow it at a while, careful not to touch it as we’ve been warned. Once, I get too close and a wave drifts me closer, I almost brush the shell.
Then we book it back to shore to tell the brothers. They soon set out again to try to find the sea turtle with the basic directions we gave them; and Rowena and I wait on the shore, eating some sort of snack. I think it was tuna fish; but without much mayonnaise or any lemon pepper, the Ruanaidh usually like their tuna fish plain. When we feel energized, we go right back in the water to set off exploring again. I remember swimming out so far that I grew exhausted, and I was frightened for the briefest of moments, feeling the current pulling at me, I’m afraid I will be sucked out of the harbor and out into the open ocean. Rowena looks back over her shoulder, and I swim hard to catch up with her, then we head back into shore.
One day we tour the island, eating rainbow ices at Matsumoto’s. Rowena’s tongue is stained blue, mine is stained green. The boys’ hands are sticky messes, and they love it. Later we will go gliding, though not all of us. The Ruanaidh decide to go another time since it’s started to rain, but since this is the only chance we’ll get, so my family decides to go then and there. I’m thoroughly thrilled, I love flying. Mr. Ruanaidh gets to ride shotgun with the pilot as our glider is pulled into the air. Mom and I are scrunched into the backseat of the glider, the pilot in the seat in front of us. Both Mom and I have our cameras, and I have pen and paper as usual. I write that the mountains look like the Andes, and the glens look like those in Scotland. I write that there are sure to be mysteries in those misty glens, and I wish I knew what those mysteries were.
I write of the moment the plane detached itself from our glider and how we dropped and my stomach leaped into my throat. I wrote of seeing the shades of turquoise fading into a deep sapphire as white beaches merged into the depth of the ocean. I wrote of an aerial view and feeling like a bird. I wrote of the sound of silence, except for the patter of rain on the glider. I wrote of immeasurable joy, and how I wished I could one day own my own glider and always be flying.
When we landed Rowena ran to meet me, asking how it was. Even though she couldn’t go in the glider that day, she was very glad for me; and I knew she was the best friend I could ever ask for.
What do I remember, you ask?
I remember the highland games, tartans and bagpipes in the tropics of Hawaii. I remember the pictures of the games, and of walking on the beach just across the park, and picking up bits of shells. I remember Rowena being happy for me when I won my medal, and I remember fingering the wood and the shell necklace that felt like a dream to wear. I remember a picture of me airborne over my sword, and thinking how glad I was that I could dance. I remember hiking through a garden full of exotic plants, and us girls and moms lagging behind to take pictures and chatter. I remember Rowena and I trying to get a picture of an elusive bird, I remember our laughter.
In the evening we walked through the city. It’s such a vivid memory, frozen in a sea of pictures and ingrained memories that will last forever. Rowena and I wear hibiscus flowers behind our right ear, Rowena makes sure to tell me which ear to place it behind, otherwise folks will think I’m married. We scrunch close together and I try to take a self-portrait of the two of us, it doesn’t turn out very well, which makes us both laugh.
The city reminds me of any usual downtown, except the vendors sell necklaces and bracelets of beautiful beadwork and shells, and a man has a parrot on his shoulder. The brothers are fascinated by the parrot, Ian almost gets bit and Mom warns them away. The air is warm, later we walk by the seashore, listening to lapping of the waves and the sounds of each other’s voices. The city is full of lights and noise, but here near the ocean it is peaceful and I love it.
I remember the moment we had to say goodbye at the airport. I remember all the memories, and I say farewell. I cannot wait for heaven. Somehow, I think it will be like Hawaii, except there will be no goodbyes ever again; the good times will just go on and on. And that will be a lovely thing.