Peridot

Sorry for missing Photo Friday, I was hiking to this beach: (photo from my phone)

I’m house-sitting for my aunt and uncle in Hawaii right now, and had heard of a remote beach with brilliant green sand. (The color is given by a rare deposit of the very common subsurface mineral olivine, also known as peridot.) Unfortunately, said beach was a six mile hike from the nearest point accesible by car, a point which happened to be the southernmost tip of the United States. And here at the southern most tip, it’s very dry and windy. Sandy, but also dusty.

This very same dust is why, suddenly, after two years of clarity and optic wonder, my camera died. I’m shooting a wedding in two weeks, and between now and then will be travelling from Hawaii to Pennsylvania to Ohio, possibly West Virginia, then Indiana, finally to St. Louis for the shoot. No idea what I’m going to about it right now. The past two mornings, I’ve tried hopelessly to shake and blow off any offending dust and turn it on, with only a flashing battery outline to tell me something not-so-funny has happened.

Things get worse; the handsome cockatiel I’ve been house-sitting slipped away Tuesday night, forgetting his feathered body as he flew home. Only, he was really supposed to stay another few days until his parents came home, and his sister, who has been away in Germany and hasn’t seen him in a year. We loved the bird and his antics, the way he sang to an oven mitt and bowed his head against the cage for you to scratch his neck. We had planned to cast him as the main star in a cover of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from Pirates of Penzance. His name was Gilbert, and we found a piano player named Sullivan. The supporting characters were still in casting, but filming was due to start in a few days.

Wednesday morning when we found him, I was absolutely devastated. My reaction exceeded any I’d had for my own pets’ passing, perhaps because I felt so keenly that I was not the one to receive his last hour. I cancelled all our plans and spent the entire day at home. A hollow knot worked in my gut, rubbing itself against the walls of my abdomen as I tried to figure out what could possibly have gone wrong. It seemed we had done everything as directed. I questioned whether sulfur brought home on our clothes from Volcano National Park might have sickened him, and secretly hoped for a news report of volcanic gases leaking from a crevice and cascading down the moment, killing all the birds and rodents in Waimea, just because it would take away the questioning, the unshakeable culpability of my failed promise.

I’m privileged to have responsibilities coupled with amazing opportunities, but also overwhelmed by them, especially when it becomes apparent how many things in life I have no control over. I can say that I will care for their pets to my utmost, but that is no guarantor against providence.

Unable to untangle my grief for the loss of life, my guilt for not saying a better goodnight when I came in exhausted from our hiking trip, and my dread of the impending response from my family, I did the only thing which made sense to me, and began to clean furiously. I’m not typically an emotional cleaner, but the action of scrubbing out the cage was the closest possible to an act of fixing things. (Much better than the Dumb and Dumber solution, to my mind.) Sweeping and mopping, too, were cathartic as I tried to push the dirt off all the surfaces, to clear away the accumulation of dead leaves from the lanai, tracked sand from the entryway.

Still, I spent the last hour of the day sobbing into the phone, broken sentences and logic which should have been birthday wishes.

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One comment on “Peridot

  1. LM says:

    Beautiful writing.

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