Camping with the Hydes at Hana.

We forgot the beer. Not just ‘some’ of the beer. We forgot every single beer.

Before climbing in the car at a leisurely pace and driving three hours, winding around hairpin curves that took us towards Hana, we left the entire Costco-sized Sierra Nevada multipack back at the air bnb. Also forgotten was one of the two coolers containing the food, but that would be discovered later, after we got back from the Hausigawa — the last chance general store perched overlooking Kaihalulu Bay. The Thai place from last year had been closed, possibly for a long time, so we drove straight to the campsite. The road makes turns so sharp that cars are instructed to wait to allow oncoming traffic to pass, so no two cars may ever attempt the turn at once. The campsite was good, though, and we could hear crashing waves as we cobbled together the tent with minimal shouting and in-fighting, an accomplishment, in our family. In short order, though, those good moods would hastily deflate, as it was discovered: we forgot the beer.

The Hausigawa provided us with two six packs, (Emma quickly did the math; with the remaining cans we HAD bought, last minute, at the Whole Foods before leaving Kihei, we would get four beers each. More; Derby would never drink four beers.) two bags of chips, oreos, bug spray, and four “Hausigawa” red and yellow beer coozies. We arrived back at camp and realized we had only brought one of the two coolers. The other cooler had been abandoned, fully stocked, on the kitchen counter, no doubt next to the ample supply of Sierra Nevadas that had also escaped our attention. The cooler we had brought contained shredded chicken meat and leftover veggie noodles from some mixed plate restaurant. Swatting at flies, we ate dinner out of the tinfoil, and could not believe we had failed so completely at camping.

Later, Emma lay in the tent while the rest of us took a walk towards the bathrooms. On our way there we passed through a forest of stout banana trees, and the remains of what might have been a small house or temple, a semicircle of rocks perched on a steep cliff overlooking the water. I can’t fathom a life in which one wakes up in an open dwelling, every day of the year, and sees first the ocean stretching away beneath her. The horizon permanently present. I can’t imagine the tropical air here living in your hair and nose, cleaning out your insides like hosing down a shower, although I suppose if you were born into it, there’d be nothing to clean. Such a being would have its own set of problems, no doubt, but camping tends to make me forget that I am a house cat. I want to run topless through the banana trees and live life on my own terms. I don’t really, of course. Sometimes I have to go a half day without wifi and the weight of my own torpid existence almost crushes me alive. The bathrooms are simple, made even simpler by the fact that there is no running water due to leakage. This is cause for mild alarm. Living life on your own terms is a grave misnomer.

After the sun set, we dragged the Walmart sleeping bags (gingerly; they were slated for return on the morrow, after all, but that didn’t stop us from laying them on the grass and spilling just a little beer on them by accident) and looked at the stars. We used Derby’s iphone to look at constellations, and tried to locate Venus, which we felt was the brighter, more yellow star straight above us. We easily found Orion’s belt. I’ve always liked the stars with no names, or names of utility, CSB30040 of Alpha Centauri. That’s not a real star, I made that up. The real names of the stars don’t sound like actual words. The names span multiple dialects, some require glottal elements I can barely invoke. Not to mention, all these stars are dead, their pinpricks of light only reaching us by way of a time-space conflagration I do not understand. To conceive of such a distance makes my eyes glaze over. You may as well ask a Labrador to do algebra. Or me to do algebra. Still, the way some of the stars flutter in and out is a subtle reminder that their presence is a ghost, a hurtling memory of light cascading over and over itself through an elevator shaft of time, at the bottom of which, we are waiting.

Emma reading

In the tent, Emma was slightly drunk. She made Derby laugh so hard she cried, curled around a pillow on the ground. It’s nothing worth repeating, just the way Emma had said something, the way she was a little bit belligerent for no reason. It’s hard to be belligerent towards people you are currently snuggled up next to in sleeping bags. Emma managed it. Dad was asleep within seconds, had possibly been asleep for hours. He brought with him a small scrap of yoga mat, no more than 2 foot long by a foot wide, a mysterious survival element that made perfect sense to him.

Before we left for Maui I bought a book light. Its a small, semi-collapsible purple book light with a clip on the back so you can affix it to the spine of your book. It was $14.95 at my store. Long have I looked at the book lights, helped customers browse book lights, restocked book lights, and absent mindedly wondered if the purchase of a book light would make me read more. I know in my heart of hearts that it would not, because I also do that dance with journals, and now know that there is no journal on planet earth that will inspire me to write more. It doesn’t exist, and now that I know that, I can, at last, rest. However I bought this book light, this little purple book light, because I never go on exciting vacations and I thought, what the hell, live a little. In a tent with my sister, stepmother and Dad, in quiet Hana on the island of Maui, I used the little book light to read a paperback. Outside, we were bombarded by the light of tens of thousands of dead stars, pelting us from eons away. Ghosts walk about under the hailing volleys and climb on top of our tents, squatting and peering with cupped hands through the tarp to oggle at our unabashed modernity. They must see the glowing light of our iphones and book lights and UV pocket flashlights and, disgusted, promptly pitch themselves over the cliff’s edge. They bob along in the frothing water, shaking their heads and clicking their tongues at us. The Infernal Living: they do everything wrong and they won’t know it till they’re dead. That’s the way of it. That’s the terrible way.