November 4, 2019 – Mililani, Hawaii
Some say we hold the key to the future in our attitude towards life, that worrying about events that haven’t happened can actually cause those events to occur. There are days when I wake up “on the wrong side of the bed”, when the slightest mishap provokes annoyance or outright anger, and on those days nothing goes right. The bus doesn’t come on time, I lose my keys, argue with my best friend. The more things go wrong, the more I expect them to continue to occur and the worse things get. It’s a negative cycle that’s hard to break.
I’ve never thought of myself as an anxious person, but in looking back I can see that I am. On Friday, the first of the month, my pension check wasn’t deposited into my Italian bank account and I panicked. How would I pay my neighbor for digging the road, the dog sitter for watching Loki? They are as bad off financially as we are, and I’d feel terrible if I couldn’t pay them.
Immediately I assumed the worst—INPS (the Italian equivalent to social security) had stopped depositing my pension because I’d neglected to fill out some important paperwork they’d sent me. That was the only reason I could think of for my lack of funds. I fired off angst-ridden messages to my daughter Lia and to my ex Diego in Italy. “Did I get anything in the mail from INPS? My pension wasn’t deposited this month.” The answer was “no” from both parties, but I didn’t feel any better and with my gloom and doom attitude, I almost missed the last sentence of Diego’s message, “Don’t forget today is a holiday here.” Aha, that could explain things. I’d never been so tight on money before, so don’t usually check the date of my deposits, but in looking back, I noticed that if the 1st fell on a weekend, the deposit wasn’t made until Monday. That meant I’d have to wait 3 days for my pension. It would arrive just two days before we left Hawaii. Oh well, at least I wouldn’t have much opportunity to spend money that was already allocated to pay bills.
Brent mentioned one time that when something out of the ordinary happens in my life, I immediately jump to the worst-case scenario, and it’s true. If Brent takes off beachcombing and spends 2 hours in the process, I worry. My over-active imagination takes control and slow-motion movies flash before my eyes—Brent, fallen on the beach, trapped under a log while the tide gets higher, unable to escape because of his bad shoulder. I try calling and he doesn’t answer his phone. Of course not, it’s submerged under water.
There was only one time my worries were justified. Brent had been gone for a lot longer than two hours, when suddenly Loki appeared at the campsite, dragging his leash behind him. I couldn’t imagine Brent voluntarily letting Loki go—in fact he was overly cautious about letting his dog off the leash since he’d been picked up one time by a stranger and we’d almost lost him. I was sure this time that something had happened, so I grabbed Loki’s leash and set off to search for Brent. “Loki, where’s Brent? Loki, where’s Brent?” Loki pulled me down the dirt road, away from the campsite and onto the paved road that led back into town. He seemed to know where he was going, so I let him take the lead. He took me up to the old, deserted building called “Camp Taylor” that Brent and I had planned to visit one night since we’d both felt its spooky vibes. Then he made a left down the small dirt road that passed the building and went down to an equally spooky place, enclosed by a fence with a “No Trespassing” sign. Shit, I thought to myself. Maybe Brent came up here to explore, went a little too far, and was accosted by the owner. Loki turned again, this time onto a small hiking trail adjacent to the “No Trespassing” sign. His tail was wagging as he dragged me off into the woods.
About a quarter mile down the trail, we hadn’t found a thing. Loki was thrilled to be taking a walk in the woods, but I don’t think he had any clue he was supposed to be finding Brent. I yanked on the leash and we headed back down to the campsite. Still no sign of Brent. After 30 minutes of waiting and wondering, Brent showed up, ambling along like it was just an ordinary day. I breathed a sigh of relief and hugged him, then anger took over. “Why didn’t you answer my phone calls? Where the hell were you? Why did you let Loki off the leash?” No doubt alcohol had something to do with the equation. He’d met some folks on the beach, shared some weed, sipped some beers.
“Didn’t you hear me calling you?” he asked. “You didn’t answer, so I figured you were mad at me.” Now that he mentioned it, I did recall something. I’d just set off with Loki and the first place I looked was down at the beach. I heard some people yelling, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying, and it looked as though they were shouting at some people across the way, so I reversed course and headed for the road.
Lessons learned? Apparently not because I still worry, often needlessly. I’m working on it, though, and trying to stay positive, but it’s an ongoing battle. Scientists say that it’s easier for us to think negatively because we’re wired that way. It’s part of our ancient defense system against imminent danger. I’m getting better at staying positive, but when I’m faced with negativity I sometimes lose it. What to do? Ignore it? Come back with something positive? It’s hard not to get sucked in and turn negative yourself.
Tomorrow we go back to Arizona, back to our little trailer. It’s been a wonderful vacation, even though we’ve been busing it. I haven’t been able to show Brent most of the tourist attractions on the island, but I think he’s gotten a taste of Hawaii life that most tourists don’t experience, and he likes it. I’ll miss the laid-back lifestyle here, and most of all I’ll miss my family, but it will be nice to return to Loki, to cool nights and a comfortable bed.