Today is the last day. It starts early with the sun.
Most of my post-packing pacing and imagining where I might have forgotten or abandoned things took place the previous night, under the influence, to be honest. The new roommate wandered out asking if I was all right, which leads me to conclude I was thorough or disturbed, or perhaps both. Thus the morning is free to spend floating in the clean and eerie space of a place that was once yours but is moving toward not being yours, and you being in space between all things again.
My room has become an all-but-storage room: one side is lined with boxes and bags brought from other rooms, the closet full of my landlady Joanne’s clothes. She keeps asking if this is all right and not an invasion of the space I’ve paid for. It’s not my house, I say. She has been generous with many things, and the top floor has been mostly empty with just me.
My oldest friend called last night–night for him and late afternoon for me. You sound so much better, he says, so much different from a year ago. You have adventured into important things. You have to hold on to this. Listening I realize I am not clinging to his every word is a desperate search for solid ground. Broad tropic leaves obscure the bay, its waves inaudible over weedwhackers and shouting children, but I know it’s still there.
Joanne and I move my bed to the downstairs, where her friend and new tenant will sleep. It seems cavernous and empty down there, like an empty dorm room. It feels ready to be moved into.
I have a banana, the last yogurt. I have gauged my food well and leave only a bag of rice and a half-used box of spaghetti. The countertops run over with bags, appliances, a can of Ovaltine. My slipshod piles of receipts and clean water bottles are packed away.
Joanne helps me with the lighter bags to her car; I’m getting a ride on her way to work. The bags contain more but are lighter and less crammed. Carrying the green duffel isn’t the struggle it was two months ago, though it is still generously heavy. My greatest worry is a neat paper-wrapped rectangle of prints I bought at an artists’ co-op. Will they make me check it? Will it get smashed?
The key goes back on a keyring I removed it from; the pithy message was something about how men need to bow down like the dogs they are, which was not a message I needed to hear. I have no keys again. I am going back to keys, but now I marvel that I have none again.
Today is the first day of school in Hawaii. Cars are starting and school buses nose around the neighborhood. The new roommate is a student teacher and gives me a hug when she leaves. I tell her to have a good year and not be intimidated. It will be hard but she can manage. She is 29 and seems sure.
Joanne’s car starts without popping the hood and thunking the starter with a hammer and we go. We talk about mundane things. The air conditioning is on. I feel I am floating in a dream I am not afraid of, and the airport entrance is a long asphalt swoop into a green and sleepy place where people move without hurry.
I get out and lug the bags to a porter even though I can manage–a last indulgence. Joanne gets out and gives me a hug. Thank you, she says. Thank you, I say. Not mahalo. From me that sounds touristy, fake, overcompensating. Thank you, I say. Thanks.
The porter is big and happy like he is selling me a car, and when Joanne pulls away I feel steady in a way I never did when my mom dropped me off at school.