I drive some five miles to get to the Volcano highway — pretty much the same route, in and out. You become quite familiar with most aspects of the road — bumps here, houses there. Naturally on this recurring drive out of the subdivision you notice whatever might hold out the possibility for surprise — like the guy building his rock wall, or that new addition, hitchhikers, whatever. Alan Watts said that if our computers (and we didn’t even have computers in his day) had to be reduced down to one last key that we’d still want to push, it’d be the one labeled with the tantalizing word: surprise.
So you drive out to the highway, looking for some surprise…
Oh. And the wave.
Don’t know how it is in other Puna subdivisions, but up here we tend to wave. When I first moved here, I thought it was maybe like how I recall driving through west Texas on a cross-country road trip. Driving my Chevy fast and straight down the seemingly endless highway — to get to New Mexico’s version of straight and endless — the people you’d briefly pass at your collective 150 MPH, would give this wave. “Howdy partner! You’re not alone on this stretch. Happy trails and”…woosh! They’re speeding to San Antonio, and you, gunning for Albuquerque in your No va — a misnomer if ever there was.
Still, I’m pretty sure those west Texas waves weren’t signifying some message: “Hey there! We’re driving 150 MPH past each other. Let’s stop off and have a sandwich together…” Or, “Howdy amigo! Republicans in the White House. We got handguns in our Pontiac’s glove compartment…but we’re not gonna shoot you! Have a big Texas barbecue day with Jesus and all the fixin’s!…”
Shit. I don’t really know. I could have been missing out on the essential significance of those big Texas waves — wouldn’t be the first time. I’m pretty sure it was just the desolation of it all — we’re sailing down the Straights of Nowhere — might as well wave good-bye…
But Eden Roc is different.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me a while, the poetic dude that I am, to realize that the wave here meant something much more concrete. What did Freud call it? Transference? Over-determination? I just assumed that, on the partially-paved lower road of our little latter-esque subdivision, the peeps were desperate to convey some sense of, “Howdy and aloha haole! You ain’t in Texas no more, but until we meet on this road again…Gosh darn it, I LOVE YA MAN! And have a safe trip to KTA!” (local supermarket)
Anyway, as I say, wasn’t too long before I realized that one simply tends to move over so as to not obliterate yourself and your momentary road mate — one of you’s gonna pull off of the pavement, i.e. onto crunchy bumpy bad road.
“Thanks for getting out of my way…”
— That’s it. No need for metaphorical or mythological underpinnings. That’s about it.
The old-time pioneers of Eden Roc (say, from the 80s… the 1980s) tell me that you could have easily spent an hour getting out to the Volcano highway. Uphill, both ways! You’d have to pack a lunch. Had helicopters hovering above ya, just in case.
Hey! Wait a minute… That must be a bunch of bullshit…
Uphill both ways…
Fast forward. Summer 2009. No! Back up. Just a bit. South Kopua Road. The county portion that gets you from the anthurium farm to the highway? Well, anyway, a drive down South Kopua in the late afternoon — back home from say a dump run — with the island’s wellspring district of Puna stretching down the mountain — from Hilo all the way out to Kapoho — down to the Pacific beyond. Well, it’s real nice. (See? Poetic soul. Let’s see… ‘Real Nice View’ – a poem. Shit ya! That could work..)
Hauling My Trash
On a late Saturday afternoon drive
Hauling my trash to the dump
Today’s new radiator is working well
Looking across the mountain’s flank
A tear begins to swell
Hauling my trash
Brought to tears
Beholding the breadth of my home
A day fades into a ride home
The sight and the luck bring tears and a poem
…Is that antifreeze I smell?