When it’s hot, I like to jump in the pool for a quick swim before I go to bed. I swim the modified backstroke, looking up toward the stars as I glide over the water. I feel like a water bug that juts across streams and ponds, practically walking on water. Blooming plumeria trees fill the air with a wonderful aroma – one of my favorites. I see heads peaking outside their windows: who is in the pool this late?
I was swimming on Sunday at Kamainas, thinking of my mother and hoping to see a honu (sea turtle). That if I saw one, it would somehow be a sign. Of what? I don’t know. But I love sea turtles and without sounding too corny, I think they are very special. Shortly after, I looked down as I swam and there is the biggest honu I’ve seen at Kamainas directly below me. It was feeding on some of the algae growing on a large rock. Most of the time, they swim away once a human is hovering above them. But this one just stayed there, floating around the rock as I ducked down below to get a closer look. Perhaps it was older, wiser and understood it was a protected species. As if it knew we weren’t supposed to touch or harm it. Or maybe it was something special, just for me. Unlikely, but it’s nice to wonder.
When I look around, everything seems different. As if there has been a slight shift in tone or color. Something not quite right. But the world around me has not changed; how I exist in the world has changed. I don’t exactly understand how this works, but it’s how I feel. So I wonder how to adapt to what is in some ways an identity shift. Who am I in this world? I am no longer only a graduate student living in Hawaii, previously DC, worked in international development, from California, Chinese-German American, born in Canada, etc. I’m all these things but now motherless.