It was not just another day.
Strolling through Pahoa, the day’s errands completed, I considered dropping into the new café in town. I really had no desire for anything in particular; I wasn’t hungry nor felt the need for coffee or any other refreshment for that matter. Maybe it was the prospect of seeing a friend, named Kili, who works there. Because of an impromptu meeting regarding the open mic night with the owner of the establishment that I had had some weeks ago, I was also vaguely inclined to drop in to touch base with him. Little did I know that by going in I would meet someone who would leave an indelible mark upon me.
Shortly after walking in, I was greeted by the lone employee, who was playing guitar. He then asked me about my hitchhiking sign, which I use regularly. On one side is written in big black letters “UH Hilo” and on the other side is the name of the subdivision where I live “Black Sands”. I was then asked by one of the patrons, a comely young woman, if I was indeed headed to Black Sands, and if I was, could she accompany me. She asserted that she could aid in my efforts to secure a ride simply because she was wearing a purple garment. I replied in the affirmative and thus began my friendship with Kali Ma.
She offered me some homemade kava drink, to which I complied. She poured it into a coconut shell cup and handed it to me. She was very outgoing and talkative and thus a conversation of sorts followed. She told me a little about herself. As it turned out, we both hailed from the same region of Maryland. After a few minutes, I could tell that she was intelligent, idealistic and (reasonably) sane. I began to look forward to the time we would be spending together, following our impromptu agreement.
About 15 minutes after I had first entered the café, we were on our way to the highway, and after about a mere 5 minutes of standing by the side of the road, we were picked up by a very nice older gentleman that also lived in Black Sands. As it turned out, the black sands that Kali Ma was headed for was not my subdivision, but simply a black-sand beach some miles from where I reside. We had a very enjoyable ride with this man but I was slightly saddened because I figured that Kali Ma and I would soon part ways. I nervously asked her if she would like to visit my place, and after a moment’s indecision, she agreed.
Once we arrived at my place, we got comfortable on my porch, and I opened a beer for us to share. And this was when we really got to know each other.
This woman genuinely fascinated me. She could converse on a wide variety of topics and could cite authors from numerous works. She was a fount of anecdotal references. Her persona was somewhat of the beleaguered warrior-woman; Kali Ma explained some of the challenging, and at times torturous aspects of her self-imposed training. The explanations she offered regarding the path she had chosen were brutally self-honest; I thought to myself ‘maybe this woman is a Bodhisattva and was sent to help me awaken myself.’ Such magical thoughts fleeted through my mind while becoming captivated with this woman.
As it turns out, Kali Ma had several names. Katherine is her birth name, but she also went by Kateri. I ended up calling her Katey.
I always thought that was a really cute name. And Katey is pretty cute. She’s about 5’4”, brunette and has luminous eyes, which are a sublime mix of brown, blue and maybe a little green. They are playful eyes, refulgent eyes. Anyway, I thought she was beautiful. Back to the story.
So we just hung out on my front porch for hours, discussing a wide range of topics. Katey liked to talk, yet she was also a good listener. But whatever we talked about, at times it just didn’t matter; Katey was emanating this underlying commitment to love. Maybe not towards me, but just to love in general. A strong believer in the healing power of love, Katey is. Say what you want about raw idealism but it’s inspiring to encounter someone who’s really trying to live by the Rule of Love.
She was a truly bohemian soul yet she seemed so driven. She was passionate about self-discovery and didn’t hesitate to reveal details about herself that most women would be more discreet about. I laughed inwardly as it occurred to me that I could only someday hope to be as forthcoming as this woman was. Some of her regaling was bluster, but I could tell this was a brave woman, if for no other reason than because she had come thus far on this little journey-d-jour without any footwear.
We talked and shared long into the afternoon. As the sun was about to set, I told Katey that she was welcome to stay the night if she liked. I also offered to walk her down to the highway if she was inclined to leave. She said she needed to go.
After escorting her to highway, we made some remarks to one another about how much we enjoyed meeting. I kissed her briefly; it was a clumsy and tentative kiss but mutual.
She crossed the road and waved goodbye.