Hawaiian Odyssey, Part II
Where were we? Ah, yes. Mawaage.
So. Mr. Burdy is on the high seas. And I am doing calisthenics and taking my Metamucil.
There is a satellite phone on the boat to be used for outgoing calls for emergencies only. In addition to making calls, the phone sends and receives texts. This is how the captain tells his wife (who tells the other sea-wives, and wives-to-be) that he and the rest of the crew are alive and making progress. We wives (and wives-to-be) didn’t request much in the way of details when we learned we would be updated daily. A message stating “Not dead; sails still working” would have sufficed. But sometimes we got more detail; we learned about when the head (that’s Pirate for “toilet”) got clogged… and when the swells reached fourteen feet. Technology is amazing, is it not?
After about a week or so, the captain’s wife says that the captain says that they’ll never use up all the texting time they’ve pre-purchased, so go ahead and send our menfolk a daily message. They’re apparently longing for the soft and delicate curves of a female
body text message.
Mr. Burdy has been allowed to send a message home to me. When you only have 140 characters to sum up your whole state of being, you choose your words carefully. And when you receive a message that you know can only be 140 characters long, you read it over and over again, reading between each character to glean the meaning, trying your hardest to imagine what was going on at the time those characters were typed.
He requests that I write him a haiku every day. I oblige.
Here is High-Ku Seas Haiku #3, written after I find out that they are all “recovering” (read: not puking anymore) from the first big waves they encounter:
“Text from Chuck Norris:
Roundhouse kick to the seas, boys.
Hilo awaits you. “
I text a haiku every day, I mark the days off the calendar, I search online for ticket prices to Hilo. I work, I eat, I sleep.
A few weeks later, I get on the plane, and I try to distract myself from the fact that I am about to reunite with Mr. Burdy after not seeing him for nearly six weeks. He picks me up on a gloriously hot afternoon with a bouquet of tropical flowers in hand. We hug, we cry, we almost forget how to kiss. (Wait. Do I lean in, or does he?) I bury my nose in his neck. He holds me tightly like in one of those coming-home-from-war pictures. We walk back to the car and we hold hands the whole way back to the house.
We stay at a friend’s house for the week. Unbeknown to Mr. Burdy, I arrange for our first night together to be at Aaron’s Cottage, a lovely little bed and breakfast. I want our first night together to be all romantical and cozy. And it is. Until the toddler in the room next to our starts being vivisected. Or whatever was happening to it to make it scream like that. I don’t know. Whoever you are, father of that child, thank you for taking it on a car ride at midnight to calm it down. You are a saint.
Everything’s going exactly as you might imagine it would after two people who love each other are finally reunited after a month and a half apart. There’s a lot of PDA going on. And canoodling. Mr. Burdy is holding open doors and reading me whole sections of his journal and we’re having an awesome time. We’re plotting a million and one creative endeavors together, we’re laughing, and we’re eating some of the BEST food we’ve ever had on vacation. We vow to eat rice and eggs every morning till the day we die. And to eat more raw fish. And maybe some SPAM once in a while.
Now, in the midst of all this bliss, my adrenal glands are taking a much needed nap. They had nothing to worry about, ’cause we were on vacation, baby! Except, wait, what’s that he’s reaching for in his pocket? OH GOD, HERE IT COMES! RED ALERT. RED ALERT. WE HAVE A POSSIBLE RING SIGHTING. COMMENCE SHORTNESS OF BREATH PROCEDURE. You see, I have a very strong intuition. A very strong intuition. You might say I can smell a man’s intent to marry me from 3,000 miles away. I knew Burdy was up to something. But I just didn’t know when he was going to be up to something. So, every time he asked me to “sit down” because he “wanted to tell me something”, my adrenal glands blasted a metric ton of adrenaline up to my brain and I nearly blacked out from the pressure change. Of course, Mr. Burdy didn’t know he was doing this to me. He just wanted to show me the birds on the horizon, and why didn’t I sit right here where I would get a better view and he would tell me about the birds he saw while he was at sea? And then he would reach into his pocket… and pull out a handkerchief and loudly blow his nose.
Mr. Burdy was especially eager to tell me about this particular constellation he saw while sailing at night. He even drew a map of the stars in his journal. In the constellation, he saw a female form. And the female form was leaning forward, sort of like a sprinter in a running position. The stars were his focal point at night during his watch. They pointed right to Hilo. No matter how dark it was, or how far away they were, all he had to do was look up to get his bearings. He kept the boat pointed where those stars pointed and they made their way to Hilo. Burdy kept mentioning these stars to me over and over again. I imagined that ANYone who had to steer a boat in the absolute pitch blackness with nothing but the stars for light and reference would have formed a special bond with one patch of sky or another, but there was something in his voice that I hadn’t heard before. Some sort of seriousness. Something that quieted his normal boyish energy and drew out a more contemplative man. This was only the beginning of my understanding all the ways that this trip had changed him.
Oh, I should mention something else pivotal to this story. The weather.
One of the first things I asked Mr. Burdy when he came ashore was how the weather was in Hilo. Seattle had been (still is, goddamnit) having one hell of a cold summer and I was DYING for some hot sun. I think I was so excited for Hawaiian sun that I might have answered that first phone call from him with “Sun?” instead of “Hello?”
Burdy reassured me that the weather was sunny. He even took a picture of the sky with his phone and sent it to me as proof. He said that Hilo was on the rainy side of the island, but that it was sunny a lot of the time. It would probably rain a little bit each day, but after that, it would be bright and sunny. Pack your sundresses, he told me. Bring sunscreen. You’ll love it here.
When I got to Hilo, though, it was overcast. The sun poked out from behind the clouds every few hours or so, but only for a few minutes. It was warm, but it was not “sunny” as promised. It went on like this for two days. Two days of overcast skies. And Burdy not proposing. I thought I was going to lose my mind.
On day three we decided to leave the Hilo side of the island and sail to the Kona side. Burdy was very eager to show me the pointed wooden clog he’d been living in for the last 30 days and thought it might be fun to sail to the other side of the Big Island rather than drive. And overcome with bliss, I agreed that yes, it would be romantic and adventurous to sail to the other side of the island! More on that (incredibly shortsighted) decision in Part III.
Before we left, though, we decided to visit the Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Gardens. We strolled through the gardens, took pictures, and then we came to a tree on the outskirts of the garden. It was enormous. It looked out of place and out of time. I think I had Morgan Freeman’s voice running through my head while I stared up into its massive canopy: “At the base of that wall, you’ll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield.” This tree had no earthly business being on the island of Hawaii. I’m not the kind of person that usually describes flora and fauna as “magical”, but, I have to admit: there was something magnetic about this tree. Something that spoke to us. It said: sit down. I have something to tell you.
So we did. And THAT’S when Burdy finally pulled something out of his pocket. It was a letter. He handed it to me, and I opened it. Here it was, finally. My heart was beating out of my chest. I scanned the page, turned it over, my eyes searching for the words. And there they were. I looked up at him, my eyes already filling with tears, and I asked, “Really”? He nodded, took my hands, and pressed into my palm a small piece of teak. It was a carving he’d made on the boat. The carving was of the constellation. The constellation that guided him to Hilo and told him to marry me.
We held each other for a few trembly moments, both of us full of nervous and excited energy. It began to sink in. I had just agreed to marry Burdy. Which meant we would have to get married. Which mean we would be married. Like real adults. With rings and stuff. And invitations. And catering. And guest lists. And OKAY BOYS, FULL STEAM AHEAD! WE’VE GOT A WEDDING TO STRESS OUT ABOUT. LAUNCH ADRENALINE! COMMENCE UNENDING QUESTIONS THAT DON’T NEED TO BE ANSWERED RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT WILL ALL GET SORTED OUT LATER SEQUENCE.
“Aw, shit”, I said. “Does this mean we have to plan a wedding?”
And, as if in answer, the heavens opened up, and FINALLY, after two full days of nervous tension and overcast skies, it began to rain.