Monday, July 16, 2007

Mother Meets Lani

As the time came to leave Hawaii my Father took an entire week off, so it was looking like I wouldn't see Lani and Lono before we left. I wasn't really clear on the concept of that. I thought if I missed them that week I could come back the next week and see them. Fortunately there was a final meeting, but not with both of them.

It happened because the dog had to be walked before we left. My Father usually did that, but he was a control freak about packing so this time he had my Mother do it. I begged her to go with me to see Lani and Lono. My Father said not to take more than half an hour. I think my Mother went along with the idea just to get away from my Father, because he was getting irritable. Packing always made him surly because he didn't have any spatial sense. He blamed the suitcases at first, then anyone standing around.

So my Mother, Koko and I set off for Stoneman Field. Of course, my Mother had never been to see Lani and Lono, so she had no idea where we were going. I grabbed my ball as we left. I'd finally be able to show it to them.

A lot of what I know about my visits to my friends became evident through this walk. The reason I know about how many blocks down Leilehua Road I had to walk every day to see them is that on this one trip my Mother provided the count. I had only just recently learned the Hawaiian word for five, now I learned the English word.

My Mother was astonished that I had been wandering so far from the house every day. She complained that we'd used up half our time already, just as I spotted Lani. She was saying we'd have to go back right away.

When Lani saw me, he called me over to his side of the Avenue. At this point I was crossing the avenue myself as long as Lani or Lono was there to wave me over.

I started to cross but my Mother grabbed my arm and started yelling to Lani, "Who are you? What have you been doing to my son?" After that she let go of me to step off the curb to march over to him to confront him. But by then a car was on it's way. I ran and yanked her by the skirt and told her, "Not now, a car is coming!" It shocked her to realize that I'd prevented her from being hit, after all the times she'd told me not to cross unattended.

When it was clear again, Lani called out to me in Hawaiian to come over to his side of the street. It's odd to me now that I remember that the word for side he used, 'ao'ao, was one I didn't know before. But I got the idea and I led my Mother across.

My Mother was still wanting to know what horrible things the man was doing to me when we walked up, but if Lani understood anything she was saying he didn't let on. He just looked at me for help. I asked him in Hawaiian where Lono was, and he
told me Lono was out sick. It was another new word for me, 'ōma'i. We talked at length about the meaning of it. The word was funny to me because I knew ma'i to mean genitals. My Mother looked confused through the whole thing, then I explained to her that Lono "had a cold" because that was the only kind of sick I knew.

She demanded to know from Lani why he wasn't talking to her, and I told her it's because Lani didn't speak any English, but I could help. And I began translating back and forth for them.

I believe that my memories of Lani and Lono would have been lost forever if it were not for this one conversation. Up until this conversation my world had been in two pieces, each with its own memories consisting of a separate web of associations. The next 15 or 20 minutes of conversation, translating between Lani and my Mother cemented the two worlds together and made the memories of one world accessible through the other, because they intersected for that time.

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