Sunday, February 21, 2010
Existing in Eden
It's a little surreal plunking oneself down in an 80-degree landscape in the midst of a (well, admittedly mild) Seattle winter. My first few days on Maui I walked around in a daze: Sun! Surfboards! Mai Tais! Hibiscus! It seemed as if everyone but me knew what to do. I ran for the shade, in shock. The racks of tropical-print shirts in every store sent out a glare against which I knew I was hopeless to shield. I tried to convert dollars to dollars. (What's the exchange rate between Hawaiian dollars and Seattle dollars?) I was in culture shock, in my own country.
But thankfully the transition from persistent grey to allover blue was speedy, and before long I began to feel comfortable in my own bared skin and even -- shock! -- walked barefoot, a thing I rarely allow these tender paws. I soon began to envision everyone I knew, anywhere on the planet, in sleeveless shirts and shorts. E-mails from my boss in snowy Philadelphia seemed to be coming from an alternate universe. Snow? Ice? Aren't we over that yet?!
High humidity -- which crumples and then liquefies me -- did not exist. In its place, a constant benevolent breeze cooled the skin and carried with it an ever-shifting fragrance: plumeria, saltwater, rain-forest, eucalyptus. I was emptied out, blessed and sanctified in a baptism of cerulean waters. The possibilities for goodness seemed endless.
And again, sigh.
Re-entry has been gentle; with temperatures in the upper 50's and nary a cloud on the horizon, Seattle seems to have plunged forward into an early spring. Here at the day-four mark in my post-paradise recovery -- it seems I still exist in The Grace Period of Happiness that often follows an especially remarkable sojourn. My sister asked me, "Have you recovered yet from --", and knowing she meant "jetlag" as her next word, I interjected "--happiness? Are you asking me if I've recovered yet from happiness?"
Nope. Not yet. And I intend to hold on to this, um, condition as long as I possibly can.