Dear Fiji,

I’ve been here for 5 months now. I’ll be leaving in two weeks. Throughout it all, I am immensely grateful to have finally gotten to know my family here. Fijians are truly some of the most gracious people on the planet and I’m proud of my heritage.

The goal was never to ‘find my people,’ but to uncover parts of myself through understanding my heritage. Through this I have been in the presence of so many celebrations and witnessed the family ties that are woven so tight and intricately together, the connections both amaze and confuse me. I’ve been forgiven for the many ignorant faux pas, and taught so many customs, I’ve been shown the old ways. The past of my ancestors has been revealed to me like my people before me, spoken. Ive been surrounded by more children in the past few months than I probably have my entire life. I’ve bushwhacked up the mountains learning about my waring cannibal ancestors. I’ve climbed the foot worn paths to where the purest Kava grows. I’ve drank plenty of grog, and no, I don’t mind the taste at all. In fact, there’s something I quite enjoy about it’s earthiness, and it’s always gonna be a high tide bilo for me! I’ve sat in prayer many a time, my head bowed in masu. I’ve frequented the local buses, welcoming the fully open windows (or mostly nonexistent) with the drivers blasting reggae dance hits. I’ve walked the city streets well enough to know my way around, clutching my bag all the while. I’ve nearly gotten my phone stolen. I’ve gotten a tattoo (which I get stopped all the time about and I shamelessly love it). I’ve tasted more versions of curry than I thought possible (goat is my favorite…sorry goats!!). I’ve eaten the biggest, freshest tuna. I’ve shed some tears as a result of being too enthusiastic with chili peppers. I’ve gotten dengue fever at least 3 times and learned my lesson from drinking tap water. I’ve experienced koro or village life, how life runs so differently than in the urban areas. I’ve been a participant (sometimes unwillingly) of ‘Fiji time.’ I’ve swam in the clearest blues of waters on the quietest of empty beaches. Some things are still sacred.

Even as much as I’ve been so deeply embraced, there are days I feel I am a stranger. Which has nothing really to do with my family, as I feel similarly with my family in the states which I’ve known since I can remember. As I’ve always thought, I am a lone wolf running temporarily with a pack from time to time.

Still there are days when I’m overcome with loneliness. I sit on the bus, the warm sun on my shoulders, wind blowing, music loud, and I feel that knowing- I am a stranger. But then I go to the market, pick some apples, and the vendor asks where I’m from. How long have I been here? And just this little conversation brings me back to. Usually it’s followed by are you married, which always solicits this internal eye roll. But, I always find it funny, and always walk away smiling.

Continually I learn that I am never alone, and even in the moments when I’m feeling so fragile, there is someone, noticing me. Fiji, I have seen you, and I’ve tried my best to be open to you so that I can let you in. Thank you for all your lessons, all your embraces, your open waters and beaches. I will never forget you.

Alchemy

Strange occurrences unfold at night. On Easter or as I prefer, Ishtar, dreams of a fertile womb. A sign this heart is evolving and I am aligning with the seeds of spring. How beautiful to feel so connected and in love.

The very next evening, trickery, the universe wants to play. Peacefully, in the small hours, eyes flutter open. There’s a figure standing at the edge of the bed. Still as the night, their face glows in the darkness. Overcome with fear and panic, I cry out. Suddenly, synapses connect and I realize, it’s Kincy. I share a room with her at my cousin’s house (or as everyone properly refers to as the Doctor’s headquarters); she’s back from spring break. Her eyes barely move from the glowing screen of her phone. In unison, knowing laughter escapes us, but it is much too late to give a hearty effort. I roll back to sleep.

Later, as if to reconcile prankster terrors of the night, I wake myself up laughing aloud from a dream. Curious night, you present me with surprises.

The air is ionized. Every evening the sky strikes up in lightning. Palm trees outlined in yellow and purple brilliance. Shutting my eyes, I breath electrified air. Dreams are infiltrated by a galvanized atmosphere. Alchemy.

I walk up a spiral staircase, but suddenly I’m holding on by my hands and arms, as if the world has turned upside down. There is no fear of falling, no questioning of this trick of gravity, and no knowledge as to where this Escher-like staircase leads. There is only determination.

Under another evening’s sleeping spell, I live in a world of concrete- stories stacked on stories, escalators, elevators, vendors, and back alley apartments. There’s a frantic element to the air, this world is on the verge of collapse, and I sense it is biological.

I venture down. Down, down, down to the underground. I know I’m not supposed to be there, but I wander freely, unnoticed. Glass rooms where scientists work, hallways filled with people, steam emanating from rooms of science. I know the answer is there. I go back up and tell everyone, “Go down, underground, you’ll find safety there.”

Morning. Eyes open. I rise. Walk down the hall.

“Yadra, Fay.”

“Yadra, Yadra.” Good morning, good morning.

I write, I read, I stretch. Breathing in the smell of wet earth that only constant rain can bring- this weather that keeps me inside, and in turn, inward.

Within my creative process dreams merge with walking life, alchemically the symbols breath themselves into knowing. The path becomes discernible: inward, go inside to see.

The journey from night into day, darkness to light, dream and waking life, I wander the trails of this existence and feel the singular bond between my blood and ancestral grounds. It is here I am meant to connect the outer and the inner worlds and fuse my own alchemy, the magic of this life.

Sacred Journey

The air is humid. I have a nice shimmery glow from a film of sweat that never seems to go away. I’ve sworn off all things starch. I don’t want to look at another piece of jackfruit, kasava, Dalo, or bread again. Every meal, really? Fijians love their starch. Today I feel I’m risen from the dead. In the past week I have experienced dengue fever, a cold, and yesterday the woes of accidentally drinking tap water. Whatcha got for me next, Fiji? But seriously, be easy on me!

Pilgrimage. My holy yearning. Fiji is my journey of the soul and now I am understanding what sacrifice means in the sense of pilgrimage. Sacrifice, from the Latin term sacrificium, to make sacred. Sacred journeys are meant to be wrought with hardship. How can you know what something is really worth if you haven’t had to fight for it? On my sickest of days, I cried daily, being brought into the darkest parts of myself, my internal sufferings inflamed from my burning fever.

Today I woke, the nausea gone, my lips chapped from dehydration. I’m alive. My Na Lika (Auntie) had asked me to go to the hospital last night, but I refused (we live at the doctors headquarters because my cousin is the only surgeon for the hospital). I can make this on my own. I know my body’s limits. And today, I know I’ve crossed the hump.

It sounds silly in a way to feel you have accomplished something out of pure suffering, but I have. I’ve gotten to know myself better. I know that I am terribly sensitive and fragile, but my will power is stronger. I have an inner fight inside myself that I know I can rely on. And I know that I need love. Yes, physically, I’ve come to Fiji on my own, but in times when I need guidance, someone to talk to, a friend, I reach out. How powerful is that, to hear that you are loved?

I’ve made it through my first month here, with some tests to be sure, but I’m ready to continue on. I know there is more to experience, both beautiful and difficult. But I’m embracing it all, I don’t want anything to slip through my fingers. I’m alive, so let’s get on living!

Lessons From Within

Can you see me? Deep, deep down? My heart is wide open, and there’s lots of room. I’m going on a journey to find my way back home. Crossing the ocean to reach my islands. They’ve been waiting so long. So much longing, but still I’m afraid, says the child inside.

My mother tells me, “I carried you in my womb. Still I carry you. When you walk with your bare feet on the ground, I hold you. When you rest your head on a coconut tree, I am there.”

But what if I fall?

My grandmother tells me, “When your tears fall, I have sat beside you and cleaned your face. My hands have touched yours. When you weep, it is a prayer, and I am there.”

But what if I get lost?

My sister tells me, “You’ve come as a seeker. You are a warrior. You are a goddess. When you look up at the stars, I see you. You’ve come for a reason, and you are guided. You’re never alone.”

My sister, my grandmother, my mother- they are all parts of me, pieces of my heart. I’ve come here to love and learn about love. And I know there is still room in my heart, and it is wide open.

Photo: ehscapist

Continuing

She goes, she goes. And if she lets go of everything, there is nothing to hold on to, and nothing to keep her from going. It makes her feel alone and free. This is what brave is.

In the morning, she lets the world creep in, slowly. Softly, the rain taps on the roof. The sun’s light gently touches the walls. It’s peaceful out there, but slowly the thoughts creep in and it’s not so quiet for long.

That’s when it is time to rise, to allow other distractions to interrupt the mind. So she packs her things. Boxes of clothes, crystals wrapped in paper and put into smaller boxes. Books meant to be read but left unopened, the tops left with a faint dusting, go back into a box from which they came. Along with journals filled with a grasping that never quite reached. Some letters written, but to a recipient never realized. Intentions.

All half trying. But too late for those things because it is time to go forward. So she compartmentalizes her life into cardboard boxes and ships it off to another life she won’t be going back to.

She is not quite a clean slate, and she doesn’t need that. Maybe a clean rag- a piece of something bigger but who knows what. Perhaps beautiful once, but so worn and tattered now. Yet there’s use. She could be of some use, she thinks.

So she goes. And thinks of salty sea air that is calling her, she thinks of a sun that touches her deep into her pores. It is not her home, but she will make it so for the time she feels she’s needed. Until she has completed something in being there. She does not expect to be completed in return. But she hopes for something.

And so she goes.

Proclamation

The days bleed into each other. If we learn of the day, it’s all the same. Everyday is Sunday or everyday Wednesday. Mornings stuck in bed. We promise ourselves we’ll wake up earlier tomorrow, but somehow we dismiss the 4 alarms we set. Defeated, giving into warmth, in the bed of our Dream Away Palace.

“Good morning, beautiful. Did you have any dreams?”

And so begins the daily ritual. Consequently, mornings begin late. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we’ll be better tomorrow.

There is comfort in the known. I know what today will be like and foresee what tomorrow will bring. The fire is lit, breakfast made. I’m just now rolling our shared tobacco. Something as simple as this. A slight change, a minutiae of growth is big in my eyes. He grins sweetly at my first success and I grin back proudly.

Everything is fun size here. From Our little studio we spend our days in, to our miniature stove we light occasionally in the Dream Away, the medieval looking tent. We call it our little tandoori. Little tandoori requires the smallest pieces of wood, a stove fit for a gnome. We doubled over laughing at how ridiculously small it was when it came in the mail. Henry finds zen in the act of chopping tiny pieces. We light tandoori for yoga and special evenings before bed. At night we watch the firey reflections dance on the walls. A small bundle of wood sits in front of the Dream Away, with the flue from the stove sticking out of the tent, I imagine what sort of people, or non-people live there. A British Flag hangs in the entrance. I joke it’s the British Occupation.

It’s kind of crazy, we spend every waking and sleeping moment together. When he leaves to grab something, I say, “Ok bye, miss you already!” Knowing I’ll see him in less than five minutes.

We talk. We talk about our future, our past. From if we were an animal scenarios to if we could change the world. Layer after layer, revealing ourselves. Secrets I’ve held onto for fear he will finally see me and turn away. But instead I’m held tighter, loved deeper. Embraced.

This time it’s different. The fear of expressing the truth of our hearts is open. And finding validation in those three words is real. This moment, these days, they won’t last forever. Shortly, we will part and continue onward towards our dreams. But this love, this bond, this truth-it’s solid and strong, unwavering, and real.

I thank the stars for giving me something to hold onto. For giving me a home. When I have searched for so long to find this home, seeking it in other countries, other towns, other places. I’ve found it in a heart.

Cosmic Latte

Yesterday I learned the average color of the universe is cosmic latte. It made me smile. I thought to myself, I want to drink that. To sip brown sugar stars and steamed milk of fluffy cloud swirls. Lick crystallized specks of sweet sun rays. A dash of tree and a blossom of flower. From the tip of my tongue to down deep in my belly, I absorb and nourish all that I need, and let go of what I don’t. And I feel the universe within me, and know also that I am the universe. Because you are what you eat, or in this case sip.