“Oh, girl, that’s my JAM!” Sala yelled as she jumped off the bar stool and headed for the dance floor. She quickly turned as she entered the crowd to signal for us to follow.
Lena rolled her eyes. “I think every song is her jam.”
We all laughed and watched as Sala moved her way through the crowded dance floor like a cobra ready to strike. When she found her victim, a tall, well-built man with dreadlocks and a smoldering look, she turned her back on us.
Only Sala could be so uninhibited, I thought. She had that carefree, no nonsense attitude about life and she certainly lived it to the fullest. I, on the other hand, would be bogged down with the what-ifs and who’s watching that I could never truly ‘let go’.
“Hey, you’re supposed to be celebrating.” Tupu said as she sipped her drink.
I shrugged. “I know.”
My divorce was now official. I was a free woman. It was a long, hard road, a life filled with selfishness (on his part), and accommodating (on my part), and I had finally had enough. It’s hard, especially when you have children, but it was for the best. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. Tonight was my celebratory girls night out and Sala seemed to be the only one having a good time.
The music was a nonstop thumping of bass and flashing lights. The bodies on the dance floor began to mesh together, everyone gyrating in time to the beat, hands in the air and people pressing up against each other. A very intimate scene in a very public arena. Pretty soon, my head began to throb with the beat of the songs the DJ was playing and I insisted that I had to go home. Everyone, except Sala, was happy with my need for departure but I figured she would get over it. She would probably hop into her own car as soon as we got home and head back out to the clubs.
As my friends drove away, I unlocked the door to my house. At least I got to keep the house, I thought. I checked on my daughters and my mom who were all camped out in the family room and headed to my room to sleep.
The next morning I awoke to the smell of pancakes and the sound of church music. It was Saturday morning but I could always count on my mom listening to church music, no matter what day. I went through my morning routine and by the time I reached the dining room, breakfast was ready.
My daughters updated me on their previous night as I ate and listened to their stories. The music in the background soothed my aching head and gave me a sense of comfort. After breakfast we packed a picnic lunch and headed for the beach.
The day was bright with not a cloud in sight. It was a perfect day for swimming and hanging out at the beach. My daughters played with the waves, running away as the water washed onto the shore and chasing it as it crept back into the sea. As I lay on the sand I could hear a radio nearby playing old Hawaiian music. The music and the sound of the ocean blended together, as if one had been written just for the other. I could imagine a kumu hula standing on the beach facing the ocean. His hands outstretched, chanting to the rhythm of the ipu, his dancers behind him performing their hula in honor of Maui, god of the sea. A beautiful, ancient union to match a perfect day. Too bad my marriage never reached the stage of ‘perfect’. I sighed and walked into the water, feeling the coolness wash over me and trying to cleanse my mind of the hurtful past. Maybe Maui could sweep some of this hurt out into the vast ocean and far away from me, I thought.
Exhausted from their day at the beach, my daughters went to sleep early leaving me alone with my thoughts. I turned the stereo on only to hear reggae music coming from the speakers. It must have been a CD my newly ex-husband had left behind. I quickly changed the stereo to the radio and found a station that was playing old school slow songs. I sat back and let the memories take over.
It’s funny how my experiences with my ex-husband seemed to link with songs. Early in our relationship, the music was a mix of old school, R & B, and Sade. I remember going to the college clubs and dancing the night away, oblivious to the crowd. It was as if there was a spotlight on the two of us and we were the deserted island amidst a sea of people.
As our relationship deepened, the music changed to the music of our time, intense and selfish. It was our world and we thought we knew exactly what we wanted. Such big dreams in our young, naïve minds!
Our wedding and married life began an era of reggae music sprinkled with disco. The couple’s dance of our college days changed to a group dance as our daughters were born. Eventually that group dance changed to only include the girls and me with their dad nowhere in sight. It was a sad change to such a bright and exciting beginning. In my own, ignorant dream world, I thought we would be capable of changing and progressing.
The downhill spiral of our marriage reminded me of the alternative music I played at the college radio station; rage filled and destructive. The gap between us gradually widened until one day we realized we were strangers. Our consensus made it easier to obtain a smooth divorce settlement. Walking out of the court house with the final divorce papers signed, I thought I would be skipping down the halls like Dorothy dancing down the Yellow Brick Road. Instead, I was moving more like a zombie trying not to think at all.
Reluctantly, I emerged from my unhappy thoughts and self-pity and looked at the stereo. The CDs on the shelf were stacked neatly except for one that was placed haphazardly at the top of the stack. I reached out and pulled it down and was surprised to see the cover. It was a CD of old Samoan songs. I put it into the stereo and pressed play. As the first song started, I could hear the old style drumming played with sticks on a rolled mat. The beat was methodic and melodic at the same time. By the time the singing began, I was transported back to the day of my wedding. I was sitting with my family eating breakfast when my dad looked at me.
“I had a dream last night,” he began. “It was about your aunt, who you’re named after.”
I looked at him, startled, my heart pounding in anticipation. My aunt had died when she was only 16, many years before I was born. What could my dad have dreamed of?
He continued quietly, “Do you remember the old Samoan belief that when a person dreams of a funeral there will be a wedding and vice versa?”
“Well, I dreamed that I was at my sister’s wake and all of a sudden she stood up and we began to siva together.”
The tears began streaming down my face. I knew that this was my aunt’s way of giving me her blessing and letting my dad know that I would be okay.
As I came out of my reverie, I realized my aunt’s message was more far reaching than my wedding day. It was her way of giving me the strength to endure, through good times and bad. During my good times she was standing on the edge of the crowd, listening for those opening notes to begin her entrance run, waiting for me to call on her. And now, in my time of need, she is dancing her siva, sending me courage through her graceful, elegant hands. Her spirit is my power, her siva is my signal to continue my forward motion into a brilliant future.