A Unicorn with a Hibiscus and a Man Named Alex

Today was rough. Jon and I had plans to be together today. I have a gig every Tuesday. Last Tuesday he was my official assistant. He was wonderful, and so helpful. And when I dropped him off I gave him a big hug and said, “I love you.”

“I know. I love you too.”

“So much.”

“Goodbye, Sis.”

I had no clue then what kind of goodbye that was. At the time, I thought I’d see him today.

I had a hard time getting motivated this morning, getting moving. He was supposed to be with me. He was supposed to be here.

Then the alarm on Jon’s phone rang – telling him it was time to get up to meet me. He’s not going to get up again. But I like to think he’s awake. He was always so present.

I mustered what I could to honor my gig and went in. I put on a smile for the little kids, and there were so many happy faces, feeling the magic and wonderment. But my heart was aching, I was fragile, holding it together for them.

Then this guy came over. He had flowers in a lei around his neck and on his head, and a big smile. I could tell right away this was a person who was comfortable with himself. He sat down and said, “Boy, aren’t you magical?”

I looked at him and said, “You seem pretty magical yourself.”

He laughed and told me that he had a unicorn horn. He’s a zipline guide, and he taped the unicorn horn to his helmet with galaxy tape. Galaxy. Jon loved that print, his wallet, his facemask, his shirts, so much in Jon’s world was about the universe. I felt a twinge. The guy got up and returned with a bright red hibiscus flower.

“This is for you. Can I take your picture? A polaroid? I’ll give you one too.”

He was just enough crazy to be fun, so comfortable to be around, and kind. He reminded me so much of Jon. And I told him, trying not to burst into tears. I said, “I lost someone close to me this week and you remind me of him so much. Thank you for being here.”

“Thank you for being here,” he insisted.

Our polaroid popped up and with a quirky smile, this fellow introduced himself.

“By the way, I’m Zon.”

Jon couldn’t be there today. But Zon was. I was comforted by the serendipitous connection.

Later today, I drove to Kahuluhi to see my ear surgeon for a post op check up. Afterwards, I went grocery shopping. As I was driving to Whole Foods, I felt the pull, the opportunity to give was clear. Against a store wall with a bank of windows, facing the street, with his face mask down and a very forlorn sad expression sat a man wrapped in a blanket.

I knew this was it. I should go to him, ask what he wanted from the store. But it was getting late and I wanted to make it back over to my side of the island before dark so I just went to the store. But I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

What cheers me up when I’m sad? Chocolate. XOXO brand dark chocolate sea salt almond, to be exact. I added one to my cart.

I drove back to his building, and parked the car. When I walked over, he was gazing out at traffic and looked surprised to see me. He tried to get up, to move, to be out of the way like an eyesore, allow me more space to go by, although there was already ample sidewalk.

Instead of walking past, I crouched down to his level and introduced myself, “Hi. I’m Sara. I couldn’t help but notice as I drove by that you looked sad. When I’m having a rough day, I find that chocolate helps, so I bought you my favorite type. Dark chocolate almond, I find it is a pretty good combo. But I know, we just met, I’m not even sure if you like chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am, I do.”

“Oh good!” I passed the bar over to him.

“You live here?”

“Yes, on the other side.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a scuba instructor.”

“Oh, that must be fun.”

“It really is. When did you get here?

“I landed in September. and now…I’m…sorta…in between. I’m….”

His voice trailed off and he looked out into space a moment. I wanted to finish the sentence for him because I felt the next work would be “…lost.”

“You know,” I told him, “I’ve heard that’s normal. A lot of people land here and it takes them a few months to get into a groove. Find their footing.”

He gave me a hopeful smile. “It does?”

“Sure.” I nodded. “I hear that from people all the time.”

His eyes were earnest.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m Alex, ma’am.”

“Hi Alex.” I shook his hand.

“Thank you. You don’t know,” he took a measured breath, “what this means.”

I did know. Or I’m getting a sense. A purpose. I think Jon would have loved what I did today. Or at least loved the chocolate.

So there it is. The first one.

And so it begins.

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