Enjoying the flavors of a flavor from Hawaii

Published 8:37 am Friday, February 6, 2009

Savoring slants of rare morning sunshine across my quilt is satisfying, but doesn’t do much to move me to action and out of bed. The results of a ringing phone works better to awaken me.

My phone friend asked if I would drive our mutual friend who’s originally from Nepal, to a nearby town so he could take tests to enroll in community college classes. Letting no lazy space surround me as I usually do, I instead, rapidly arose. I loved saying yes as a response to all the loving gifts of guidance and support members of this extended family gave me when my husband health took him to Rochester’s Mayo system a few years ago. I also was gifted with another day full of unexpected meaning.

An idea crawled into my brain about putting together a photo album for this family as a thank you for all the love they had bestowed upon me.

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Years ago, I was able to spend several weeks in Oahu, Hawaii, visiting their cousins. I immediately set to work for several hours, selecting and arranging my rendition of the most flavorful and savory sensational images of my experiences on the island. I revisited the cousin’s exotic flower gardens, her spotted cats, the family collection of turtles, the palm trees, her nephews’ mango slicing session and surfboard selection and the wave-washing beach trips. I slid all the extra selected photos into a packet with an album and drove off to pick up my friends.

On our half-hour drive to the next town, I was moved to join my tears with those of the woman friend from Nepal, who also came along. She also waits in ways similar to me, for factors to resolve that are outside her control.

She wants to return to her country to care for the children and the social services programs she had so dearly nurtured for so many years, with the support of the extended family here in my community.

Her life is endangered, if she chooses to return, yet her passion to serve is not unbridled with numerous death threats. I have no death threats, only polluting messages of discouragements and disapprovals to sludge down my dreams and motivations. After health issues and political controversies call me to silence my former vision while at work, I now come home to engage in the moment of continuous gratitude.

In the car, English is no longer taken for granted, nor is warmth. I listen carefully to discern my own language and provide blankets and a sheepskin for bone-chilling cold not common to my travelers. We discuss the warmth of friendliness we each have experienced from the other, that is sometimes put forth by others who more readily don a cold blanket.

Instantly after entering the college glass-faced front corridor, we are gently greeted by an energy-invigorated helper, who says he works with minority students in the college and asks how can he be of service to us. I respond to his accent in Spanish, and we are instantly volleying tidbits of humor about language, country, rich, poor and the location of the college testing offices in the far-off building, where he is so soon to meet us for giving more support.

While one of the three of us is at last engaged in test taking, the remaining two of the crew discover we probably have slept in the same room of the cousin’s home in Hawaii, only a year apart. That means she knows and recognizes the house, kitties, the garden flowers, and even the blue mosaic dolphin wall art work at the end of the street block. Together we select the sequence of the photos for the album reflecting perhaps the highlights of both of our visual experiences, for extended family members we both adore.

When it is most completed, she agrees she knows the added touches of a few photo rearrangements, because we’ve shared a mutual memory, and will do that later. She offers to pay for gas and I say that instead, I am hungry and want a bite before I leave and her husband makes the homeward connection with her.

We go to the cafeteria and find it darkened, but with a kitchen worker, who says it’s closed until Monday. This causes me to reluctantly consider the nearby food dispensers. My friend unfolds two dollar bills, and together we decide to conquer the mechanical monsters. Each attempt at punching a letter-number combos results in a menacing reject clink of a golden dollar coin.

I am finally left with only choices of unsavory looking ice cream desserts. However, in my hunger, I could imagine the cool, smooth iced-cream flavor and texture on top of my tongue, so with a still futile attitude, I tossed the gold coin in the slot. We waited too long, I thought. I was surprised to finally hear the whirring and spot the grey and red automated arm selecting a pink and white beaded wrapped strawberry ice cream bar. I plopped it into my pocket, pulled out my keys and we hugged goodbye.

My entire morning was significantly altered by one phone ring. After seven years, my extra Hawaii photos found a home. My ride home was savored while sucking on something I would have never purchased, but I enjoyed every flavorful sensation, while wondering how connections could be so convenient.

Sara Aeikens resides in Albert Lea and is on the Albert Lea Tribune Reader Forum.