Friday, September 25, 2009

Adventures in Paradise

This is the cane toad, otherwise known as Bufo marinus or Giant Neotropical Toad. Here in Hawaii, it is called “Poloka.” It is not native, though I haven’t been able to find when and from where it was introduced. If you google cane toad, there are countless articles on its introduction to Australia (from Hawaii) in 1935 in an effort to control the cane beetle that attacks the sugar cane crop. It apparently had no effect on the beetle, but has been very successful multiplying by the millions and destroying pretty much anything that touches it, be it alligators, raptors, family pets.

Not only is it one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen, but it is highly poisonous, secreting a very toxic chemical called bufotenine. Humans are generally safe from its effects, unless they eat it, in which case, they have been known to die. The toads are nocturnal, and the little road in and out of the Kaluakoi area ("Toad Road" I've heard it called) is littered with road-killed flattened ones. In the equivalent of the two or three block distance that I walk to and from the beach, I’ve counted as many as three dozen, in all sizes, shapes (well, aside from flat, of course), and death poses.

They’re everywhere at night, and pretty disgusting (especially when I find them in the kitties’ water, which I did last night, and which worries me enough to no longer leave their water out at night.). I won’t walk anywhere after dark, leaving the beach the second the sun goes down to get back while it’s still dusk. I won’t even take the garbage out after the big light has gone off for fear I’ll step on one. Without question repulsive… and yet…

Just last night I found myself wondering… honestly, it crossed my mind… seriously, though I’m loathe to admit it, the question did arise: what would I have to do to have one of these god-forsaken toads turn magically into a prince? You know, the whole Frog Prince, shapeshifting idea.

So I did some research. Depending on which version of the tale one reads, in order for a toad to turn into a prince, I’d have to 1) kiss it (NO WAY), 2) let it spend the night on my pillow (ABSOLUTELY NOT) 3) behead it (YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING), or 4) throw it against a wall in disgust.


It’s the whole transition from being married for better than half my life to now being single thing that even brings the prince idea to mind. That, and thinking lately how wonderful it would be to share a kayak for two with someone other than Clare, the owner of Molokai Outdoors (nice, though she is), and to have someone in my life who shares my thirst for travel and adventure.

My husband (now ex, though calling him that is an unbelievable stumbling block) has had plenty of adventure in his life. Thirty-two years in law enforcement—enough excitement for more than one lifetime. Now that he’s retired, he craves only the safety and security of the known. And I get it, truly I do. A few years ago I was telling him how much I wanted adventure in my life. He responded that the very word gave him a stomach ache. It’s possible that it was in that moment, that I remember so clearly I can see where we sat, and what time of day it was, that I got it that our marriage might have an expiration date. Though it would take me almost a whole year to allow the very idea into my consciousness.

By the end of our marriage, pretty much all we had in common was our last name, our grown children, a few pets, and a genuine and steadfast caring for each other. We shared a space, but he lived his life, and I lived mine. Rarely did the two overlap. So I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that there might be a longing to share the things I'm interested in, the things I want to see and experience in life, what is important to me, with someone who is also interested. And I guess it shouldn't surprise me, though it has, that my thoughts turn to things of the "romantic" nature over here (it is still Hawaii, after all - even if it is remote Moloka'i - with its hot sun, hot sand, warm water, luscious fragrances, and breezes running their fingers through my hair). Under its influence, I find myself seeing the men I come across in a whole new way, and from a completely different perspective.

I guess it also shouldn't surprise me that after being with one person for thirty-four years, a person that I still love very much, that this noticing, this desire if you will, might trigger some strong issues around loyalty. Ones that might give me a bit of an ache in the belly... not to mention the heart.

And that also might trigger no small amount of otherwise internal strife.

For the truth is, I am so enjoying my singlehood. I love being alone, I love living alone, I even love traveling alone. I feel filled, content, and very much whole-unto-myself when alone. I love the solitude, the quiet, the peacefulness. I am so much more at home when I'm by myself than when I'm with people.

Yet it's a whole new world out there. For me anyway. I can tell, already in a little over three and a half weeks, that I've caught a bug. It's a little virus called wanderlust, and its fever is starting to burn in me. And I'll happily suffer it alone, I've no trouble with that... I'll very much enjoy it in fact, though maybe somewhere along the way a toad - oops, I mean prince, might hop along and want to join me for part of the journey.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while a frog/prince isn't necessary, and isn't breathlessly being waited and wished for, should one come along, and depending, of course, completely on the nature of his frog/prince-ness, it's possible I might would welcome him.

It's even possible, just maybe, perhaps, that I might would even kiss him...

As Kermit the Frog himself said, Someday we'll find it, that rainbow connection, the lovers the dreamers and me...

With Aloha, from Moloka'i

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