Life Is Infused With Magic

Michele - Vancouver, Washington
Entered on February 24, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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When I was in third grade, my grandmother died. We were, at that time, a three generation family living together in an apartment in Honolulu — not unusual for a Japanese-American family in Hawaii. On the night she died, she decided to stop by the bedroom I shared with my mother.

At this point, you should know that, technically, my grandmother was at the hospital trying to recover from her stroke. But that night, I woke up and saw a shadow at the foot of my bed. I called out to my grandfather, thinking that it was him, but the shadow wordlessly moved towards my mother’s bed. I watched as it bent over my mother then slowly disappeared. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a scary experience — just very odd. The next morning, we heard from the hospital that my grandmother had died.

Anyone who grows up in Hawaii has stories like these — moments where the supernatural flirts, mingles, dances with everyday life: a friend who experienced a choking ghost while sleeping; the bathroom at an old drive-in theater haunted by a faceless woman; Pele hitchhiking on a dark road; Menehune, night marchers, fireballs, Morgan’s corner.

Until I was 18, the reality of life included spirits, ghosts and superstitions such as never taking lava rocks from the Big Island (thereby avoiding misfortune from Madame Pele). And now, after living on the secular and concrete mainland for more than 10 years, I realize that I continue to believe that reality is more than what can be measured, quantified or proven scientifically. I’ve decided that life infused with a touch of magic is much more satisfying.

My boyfriend will roll his eyes at my declaration. When I mentioned that my Uncle Mac and Aunty Kimi appear to be haunting their abandoned house in Kauai, he urged me to look at the website of a magician who can disprove any supernatural claim. He added that the guy will pay a million dollars to whoever can prove a supernatural event under controlled conditions. I tried to imagine a bunch of men with microphones, blinking machines, and recorders entering my uncle and aunty’s rambling Omao house, forgetting to take off their shoes, and trying to disprove their existence. How rude, I thought. Plus, my aunty and uncle would never show themselves to people like that.

This January, I returned to Hawaii for the first time in several years. I visited all my old haunts, including the relatively upscale Kahala Mall. As I was heading to the women’s restroom, I gasped. I suddenly remembered that one of bathrooms was haunted by the faceless ghost from the nearby drive-in that closed down. As they say in Hawaii, I instantly got chicken skin. But I did my business as quickly as possible, avoided looking in the mirror, and practically ran out of the hallway and into the crowd of shoppers. I smiled at my reaction and my luck at not encountering anything.