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TGFG: The Pelican Man

A few years ago I was going through a really dark time in my life. I had just gotten married to the worst possible choice for a husband, and some really unfortunate things happened.
Maybe I will write about those later. I will just say that it was one of the lowest points in my life.

It was October, around my birthday and he was no longer living in the house. He was living with his paralegal and wife, since the day after we returned home from our honeymoon.

I remember that I was so depressed that I couldn't get out of bed and I think I must have slept for a week straight. My kids were staying with their grandma, except my youngest. He was about seven or eight, and to this day that kid has rarely left my side.

He called his grandmother (his dad's mom) and said that he couldn't get mom to wake up. I was in a state of unconsciousness. He was scared, because here was his mom who is supposed to be taking care of him, laid up in bed, sleeping for what seemed to be days on end.

Shortly after she came over to the house, she told me that she cared for me in every sense of the word. I was no longer married to her son, but that didn't mean she wouldn't be there for me.

"You need to get out of here." She said.
"I mean, really out of here."
"Why don't you take a trip somewhere where you can get out of this house, out of that bed, and in an environment where you can sit on the beach and write."

I really liked that idea. I felt myself slipping into a nonexistent state, and honestly, that scared me more than anything.

I took the last of my student loan money for that semester and flew to the big island of Hawaii.

After I got off the airplane I immediately came across the most interesting characters.

A cab driver who told me about Princess Palle, the Hawaiian Goddess of fire, and how I should go visit the volcanos and ask Pelle for answers. I didn't have to tell this guy that I was struggling, because everything about me told him that I was. From the misery on my face to the slow movement of my then frail and sluggish body.

He told me about the legend of Princess Pelle and how she was the creator of the island. That many people have found comfort and solace. That I could find her alter at the edge of the island where I could bring her an offering in exchange for peace.

I thought that was great about $45 into the cab ride, and realized that getting a rental car would be the best bet to get me to Pelle (and my hotel) on the Hilo side of the island. Three hours away.

I thanked him for helping me and thanked him for seeing that I needed to hear that story at that moment and that I would visit this volcanic goddess (per his suggestion) and give offerings in exchange for hope.

"If you ever need anything..." he said.  I still have his business card, somewhere.

On my way to volcanos, that's when I saw him. The Pelican Man.

He was perched on the sidewalk near a bridge. There was something about him. The way the wind swept through his manicured long white hair and beard, almost mystical. His legs were twisted around one another, it was bird-like. His eyes were intense and his gaze was deep into the distance.

I wonder if he needs a ride? I thought. Almost hesitant to pull over, I noticed that he had a large cloth bag with him. He was small looking and the bag looked too heavy to carry. Great distances anyway.

I pulled over. "You need a ride?"

He released himself from his bird-like stance and jumped up, grabbing his cloth bag (that he later said was full of clean laundry) and with a resounding, "yes! that would be perfect" hopped in the convertible I had rented, and we started to drive away.

I wasn't afraid of him or anything. I was more afraid that he would be afraid of me. Possibly repulsed. Besides, It was a small, big island, and if he were going to kill me, there would be no escape.

"I live on mile marker 17," he said.

As we drove, I just listened to him talk. Driving through the lush green scenery and tall trees with big leaves, the two-lane road with bright yellow lines down the middle mesmerized me. His stories even more.

He told me about one of his wives in his younger years when he lived in New Orleans. How she had beautiful long red hair and how her freckles shown through her porcelain skin.

He told me about how much he loved her and how her mother would try to break them up in her jealousy by attempts at seducing him. Going as far as putting a voodoo spell on him by gathering dirt from an old military Colonel buried in the cemetery of the French Quarter.

He expressed his love for this young bride and how he has never been in love with anyone with as much passion and beauty, and although he had been married twice since then, he never stopped loving her.

He told me further about the nephew of that wife and how the family was deep into the magic of voodoo, that the spell the mother put on him she had also put on the boy and how he would become possessed and suddenly want to smoke cigars and drink brandy.

It seemed a little strange to be driving along this very narrow two-lane road with a complete stranger who suddenly out of my kindness felt the need to open up to me like that. His stories seemed unreal, but honestly, I believed him. Why wouldn't I?

I'd asked if he ever thought of reversing the spell somehow, but he said to do that he would have to go back to New Orleans, find the same old military Colonel's grave and create some voodoo spell he didn't want anything to do with.

Then he said that sometimes we deserve what's given to us.
"I took her for granted." he said.
It suddenly became silent.

Then out of nowhere... "you're a writer!"
"Yes, I would like to think so," I replied.

The truth was though, I hadn't really written anything. Nothing of value. Mainly just school papers, and even then there were constrictions on what I could write. But always scribbles of thoughts here and there.

"You should write," he said.
"To be a great writer, you have to write."

That's when he told me that he had notebooks upon notebooks of writings piled up all over the place. In his closet, in the living room, bathroom, everywhere. Notebooks filled with words, stories about his life. Even greater ones than the one he shared with me about being a fisherman and living several months at sea. About his son who he hadn't seen in years. About traveling to places all over the world with little to no money. Stories upon stories. Notebooks upon notebooks.

"You need to write because you are a writer," he said.

Here I am. writing.
In this forum
for real
for the first time since I met the Pelican Man almost ten years ago.

For me, writing is a process of healing. Healing that flows through me with every stroke of my run down laptop, that likes to shut itself down mid-thought.
Stories I hope for others to enjoy, and stories that I no longer need to carry.

Everyone has a story.


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