Miranda was at the door.
“You broke up with Kevin, didn’t you?” she demanded to know as she broke through the doorway in a whirlwind. She had brought over her laundry again, to do in Beth’s apartment.
That meant there was going to be a long conversation ahead while the washer and drier ran.
Beth groaned, “Oh, Miranda, just drop it will you? It’s no big — Kevin and I were never really a thing, anyway — and how would you know, anyway? I haven’t said a word to anyone!”
Miranda pointed at Beth’s outfit. “Yoga clothes. The only time you ever do your yoga is after a breakup. And light your scented candles.”
She nodded at the coffee table. “Fresh flowers, not from Kevin — and — if the pattern fits, somewhere around here is fancy chocolate. These things only happen when you break up with your boyfriend. It’s like seasons with you, Beth.”
Beth sighed, and just looked at her best friend. At a loss for words.
Miranda was right. Why did she always do this?
Breakup with her boyfriend?
Or get to her yoga practice, her daily meditations and deep breathing excercises because she had another breakup.
Beth turned away from Miranda and plopped down on her yoga mat, reached over and re-lit one of the jasmine candles that had blown out when the front door opened. She tossed a golden-ribboned bar of dark chocolate over to Miranda.
“I’m out of laundry soap,” she lied. Then she stretched out into Downward Dog, felt and released the tension, then turned up into Warrior pose.
“Really? No. And I have to wash my delicates today. Dang!” Miranda pouted, as she turned over the plastic garbage bag and let her musty laundry tumble out on the sofa.
Beth pointed to the front door. “Go. Use my car. Go. Get soap. And bring me back a kale salad.”
Heidi D. Hansenc2013
He read the text message at the stop light. A beep he had expected. Flight delay at the airport. Two hour extra wait.
No need to get on the freeway, then, and cross the bridge at rush hour. If there had to be a flight delay, evening trafffic on 1-5 was the right time for it.
He pulled over two lanes and turned onto the road that would take him to the riverside where he could get a good meal before flying out. Headed for a destination he was prohibited from talking about.
Already missing Pacific Northwest seafood, he parked at the little crab restaurant on the river and took a seat where he could watch the boats and wave runners scoot over the water.
Always a marvel, that even in early winter, those Northwest types that just had to get on the river were never held back by the cold, the gray skies, or the half-frozen rain.
Sun was starting to descend, but it was still light to enough to see the action.
On the other side of the river were the lights of the airport, and the invisible structure that organized planes escaping into the clouds. A train whistled nearby.
Fresh crab appeared on the table, along with a frothy local micro brew. He watched the steam escape from the baked potato on his plate and cause the beer glass to perspire.
Out the window. Junctures. Bridges and tracks. Paths crossing. Intersecting. Motion of the planet, species of living things and machines all bumping up into each other. Destinations unkown. Histories unadvertised.
He took the pen the waiter had left behind, and jotted on the crab bib that he had refused to wear. Unusual for a man with a classified career, he liked to wear a little evidence on his tie.
“Somehow, a harmony,” he wrote. “A flow. Putting my entire life in a tube of steel that rides the sky. On the ground, a certain mayhem. Mayhem that feeds. Colliding actions that find a beat. How do they do it?”
The crab was juicy and sweet, buttery. The sails of the boats on the river dimmed in the fading light. The airport across the river shifted into a shadow with rows of lights that reminded him of christmas. The freight train was gone.
He wrote, on the bib now dotted with butter driplets, “Life finds a way. Wherever I land. Find the harmony. Freezing cold & wave runners. Sean ate good crab here.”
He drained the beer glass, wiped his lips on his shirt cuff, put down a fifty bill on the crab bib, and went to catch his plane.
Heidi D. Hansenc2013
Tutu (hawaiian word for “grandmother,” — and in Hawaii, grandmothers are for everyone) sat in her frayed folding lawn chair and clapped her hands when she saw me coming.
Her toothless smile merged into the folds of her dark skin and she shook as she laughed to welcome me to her fruit stand.
The long stretch of beach which was my neighborhood was a welcome sanctuary of pure, refreshing color and a serenity as expansive as the tropical sky. I was there every day.
Tutu’s fruit stand was on the side of the little road near my beach. I passed it every day on my way to be nourished by the clear, clean turquiose of the ocean.
Tutu loved everyone. Her warmth and welcoming spilled over her spirit as much as her fleshy hips spiled over her rickety lawn chair.
Fruits, fresh fruits, from her yard, from the base of the mountain where she lived, the beaches, the fields. Raucus colors of fruit, exploding with so many flavors of sweet that most people never know they’re missing.
All right here piled on this card table with a sign that read, “Tutu’s Fruits, fresh pick. 25 cents your choose.”
The magic of the islands never failed Tutu’s fruit stand. As I looked over the rainbow-orange-red mangos, pink-green guava, the band started to play.
Those mangos were the trumpet section, the guava the strings, the coconuts the percussionists. The bananas conducted, and lilikoi played flute. One giant fat papaya clashed the cymbols, and my head got swimmy as my feet began to tap.
Pineapples went off on jazz saxaphone solos, each trying to outdo the other with a mesmerizing menagerie of notes. Wild grapes piped up their picollos, trying to be heard.
Then out on the sand — as on a stage — came a line of hula dancers, the bronzed men thumping their legs and feet, the ladies swaying their hips and teasing the ocean waves with caressing hand motions. Palm frond skirts, flowered head bands. Thunder rythyms of male feet next to the loving grace of women’s hips and hands.
The hula dancers chanted their ancient Hawaiian songs. The fruit stand band grew louder in my ears and I became dizzy with intoxicating sounds from the colors around me.
Swoozy, and somehow here and far away at the same time.
Tutu broke the spell by reaching into her ice cooler and pulling out a tin-foil wrapped array of home-made sushi. Seaweed wrap, the taste of the salty ocean revealing the adventures of the fish and the coral reefs. Cone sushi, sweet and restful like the lazy sun.
That was Tutu’s fruit stand. Later, by the time I grew up and left Hawaii, she had grown very old and very happy.
Years later, I re-visited the islands and my old neighborhood. That same beach where hula dancers stomped and swayed. I did not expect to see Tutu’s fruit stand, so many years had gone by, certainly she had passed on.
So when I looked out at the ocean, so happy it was still clean and pure and the color of rare gemstones, I was shocked to see — there at the corner of the road — a card table spread with assorted freshly picked home grown fruits.
In a frayed folding lawn chair sat a young woman with a welcoming, warm smile and lovely dark skin. She waved and smiled. The sign that hung from the side of the fruit stand read, “Luanna’s Fruits, Fresh Picks, $1.00 your choice.”
She tossed back her head and laughed as the music started to swell and I could see dancers on the horizon, my feet tapped and my ears were busting with melody and rythym. The papaya crashed its cymbols.
“Tutu told me you might come by,” she said, eyes rich with Hawaiian magic. “I brought sushi for you.”
Heidi D. Hansenc2013