The Long Lights of the Late Afternoon Slant Over Leeward

It is the end of summer.

The long lights of the late afternoon slant over Leeward and its vast horizon, broad and brimming with the luminosity of the summer sun. I am on H-1 West and going home to Waipahu.

Waipahu is home now, at least for the time being even as I try to find something significant in this rerouting of the road to relevance, this relevance that makes my world go round and round and round.

From the freeway, I allow myself to be turned into a witness of the magnificence of everyday miracles, like this thought and reality of second chances to redefine the road less traveled where courage and faith are crucial to moving on and to making a difference.

Soon the fall season will announce its coming, as if it were a VIP—a very important visitor--in this ceaseless cycle of seasons the cosmos gives us in an eternal oblation to all of creation. You sense a posturing of the coming season, with the signs revealing themselves to the seeing eyes: some leaves turning light yellow, dark yellow, and then brown, as if in a rite all their own; some flowers on treetops wilting, give or take the rainbow showers in the late summer bloom.

Summer here in O'ahu is not the same summer season in the home country. There the ground comes to a parching, the fields cake in the heat of the summer sun, the leaves turn crisp and then all too dried up for any moisture, as if waiting for the coming of the late summer rains in May. Or fire, as in the wildfires of continental United States we islanders call as the Mainland.

I drive past the heart of Leeward before I turn to Kamehameha, the thoughts of home in the homeland and home in Waipahu commingling. I see the beginnings of fall.

The fall will throw its weight around as if it were a posturing honorable man in the home country, an honorable man without the honor for there, in the sad republic of our dreams of full meals and endless mercies of the universe, every honorable man left standing, in the real sense of the word, is nowhere to be found.

They are all gone to the grave or to new grounds—the real honorable men—not in the familiar ground of the homeland but somewhere, in some other country, in some other territory, in some other corner of the globe where to dream is still possible, and there, in those unfamiliar places, they try to live life the way it should be lived: life lived with substance.

Life lived in fullness but in simplicity.

Life lived with decency and self-respect.

Life lived in faith.

Life lived in fidelity to the stirrings of the spirit, to the urgings of the universe.

The lives of contemporary Filipinos are stories that are harsh, I tell myself.

The traffic flow slows down and I have split seconds to myself for these unyielding thoughts, lingering and lingering longer as I scan the fields below the hills.

Lush shrubs in their summer best dot the landscape in Leeward, the place, according to people, shielded by the wild mountain winds and strong sea breezes.

That is what a lee is supposed to be, I remind myself, having consulted my tattered Webster’s, an old reliable friend when English words come to assault my sense of familiarity with a language that was used to by the newest of the colonizers to colonize the Filipino people and their minds and their view of things, and which, towards the end, would be the same resource and asset we have got to send our teachers to Hong Kong and Singapore to become domestics and nannies of the rich.

It helps that some of our best teachers in the language, in science, in special education, and in math, are now returning the favor to Mother America by becoming teachers in schools where Americans do not want to go. But this is another story.

I look at the last lights of the late afternoon past Leeward. Soon I will turn to Farrington and the sun shall have gone to the mountains in the west in order to appear again in the mountains in the east the following day.

The cycle of life, I tell myself. The beautiful circle of life. A long light slants through my windshield. A porous darkness gathers in Kapolei, a new city they are building in the west, pass the mountains and toward the blue waters of the sea yonder.

I stop at the Filipino store to buy a phone card. I will call home, I tell myself while watching the sun go to its home to set and sleep.

AS Agcaoili
Waipahu, HI
July 31, 2006

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