Wednesday, February 15, 2017


As she stood in line the day before a loaf of bread, half pound of Alex's favorite granola and a bag of frozen beans filled both her hands. The young cashier chatted with the man two ahead of her. He was asking about her headdress. "It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, I'm reminding you ... don't forget!" The guy chucked and bobbed "Flowers maybe." "Or chocolate, sweets are fine," she was enjoying the banter and added to the sodden weather that kept coming and going between the occasional blue skied day.

The young woman's headdress was a lavender fluffy band anchoring two lavender hearts. She wore her costume without skipping a beat, greeting her customers with equal and personal exchange. Camilia always noticed how service was offered her first job as a drug store clerk still made her smile. Stocking shelves of Pond's Cold Cream, working the register once she learned where things were so she could answer questions without her throat closing down -- Camilia was sixteen, shy but itchy for something else to call herself. Counting out her till in the backroom with Old Martha when her shift was over, or laughing when Laverne teased Arnold the Assistant Manager about his lack of girlfriends.  These were her neighbors and her best friend got her the job, all part of the small staff of a store now long gone from the memory of most of O'ahu.

Slipping in and between the mundane dream of life with eyes wide open, Camilia left the young cashier and her old friends and didn't get an answer to her call for Alex's whereabouts. At this point anyway the two of them were dreaming separately. "Just as well I suppose," tough decisions needed to be made. After twenty years of marriage, fifty years of separation from her west O'ahu birth place and Alex pushing eighty it was no wonder Spirit Beings from this place were showing up with protocol for him. This harshest of winters was growing a dream neither of them had allowed much juice: move back home. Home where winters were warmer, oceans invited swimming, and "culture fed instantaneous moments when ancestral knowledge is reborm again." That was Pua Kanaka'ole Kanahele's voice again. Camilia wanted this. She was enrolled in an online Beginning Hawaiian Language Course to mark her commitment to fill in the puka the holes that made her cultural knowledge incomplete. Alex wanted it for Camilia. Now it seemed the split bench technique was giving them a chance to map out a common dream.

It was Valentine's Day. In the luminous space of dreaming the lavender headdress flickered behind her eyes as blue remained the dominant sense. She could feel the board as she remembered the compass rock tattooed on her left wrist, Camilia pressed it. Her Aunty Lily's appearance was a gift Camilia couldn't have predicted, "I haven't seen you for so long!" The Japanese woman and next door neighbor who loved her as a girl was smiling as she counted out the thick layer of bills. "This is five hundred dollars," she said to Camilia who was trying with no success to decline the gift. Aunty was having none of it, simply went on counting. Valentine's Day a great time to remember Blue is the old color of love.

Where is Alex Santiago?

* A link to a piece about Dream Incubation by Robert Moss helped inspire this bit of the story.

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