She was just a girl. Back then. A very little, very talkative, girl. In my backseat. I didn’t really pay attention to the details: Who she belonged to, how she got there, why she was with us … It didn’t really matter. She seemed harmless, albeit a little noisy. And I’m a big car. One more wouldn’t really make a difference. Or so I thought.
We were a family. On a road trip. In summer. Adventure doesn’t even begin to describe it. That feeling of … Freedom? Possibility! Excitement! Life. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, Blog? That road-trip-feeling. That road-trip-feeling of being part of the Earth and the Sky at the same time, that feeling of living in the present so hard that sometimes you have to turn up the car radio just to drown out the sound of your own heart.
Those feelings were amplified for me, a thousandfold. I was a new car, back then. Remember when you were young, and all the things you could see? It was overwhelming. The beauty of the world as it flew by outside my windows! The wonder. The absolute majesty of the road - unknown - ahead. And as I glanced in my rearview mirrors, the road a beautiful, long, gray scarf, unravelling beneath and behind me at a thrilling pace, my heart searched to name a new feeling. I was already nostalgic for the moments we were leaving behind.
Like I said, it was summer. Around 1964, I think. Our guest, the little girl, was around five-ish. We were doing all the usual road trip things … Playing the alphabet game, car bingo, stopping at places that looked interesting. The weather was that kind of no-weather-weather, you know? The kind of weather that makes you feel like you belong whereever it is you are. And then we saw it. That sign. “Devil’s Den.” Everyone in the car ooh-ed and aaah-ed and said things like “Stop!” “Please Daddy! Stop!” My driver at the time, whom I shall call Mister in this story, seemed quiet, and confused, but he obliged: Putting on my blinkers and checking my rearview mirrors carefully, he pulled over to the side of the road and slowly rolled me to a stop. He reached into my glovebox and pulled something out, something big and brown and heavy. Ah. His book. He was going to check his book. Mister kept a book of all the places he thought we should see along the way, he was a very meticulous planner and record keeper. Remember, this was back in the day before the internets, people. Things weren’t so easy back then. You couldn’t just google your way into a road trip. You had to plan it carefully (like he did) or just wing it and go with the flow (which I would have preferred but it wasn’t really up to me back then).
A faded photograph fell to the floor as he opened the book. He picked it up, and looked up, stunned. The picture was of the very spot we were now in, it was a photograph of the Devil’s Den sign we were now parked under! But it had been taken some years before, maybe 10, 15 years before. We fell silent. Well, I mean, technically I am always silent, except for my engine noise and my wheels on the road, but I am always thinking, so it doesn’t feel silent, to me. But I digress. It was clear that Mister had no idea how that picture had gotten into that book, or indeed, where it had come from at all.
I tried to see what was in the Mrs.’ face. Mrs., Mister’s wife, seemed amused at all his planning, but she never said a word about it. But I always wondered what she was thinking. It seems like she had an agenda of her own, unspoken, but yet somehow more often carried out than all those meticulous plans of Mister’s? I don’t know. Maybe it was just the Feminine Mystique at work. Sure enough, she had that kind of wry smile on, one eyebrow raised. She turned to look out her window. And it was then that something strange happened. Something that if I had been human might have given me a chill. As it was it gave me an inkling that maybe this was not going to be any ordinary road trip.
As I watched Mrs.’ face in the reflection of her passenger window, suddenly, her face changed. I could see now two people in the window’s reflection; Mrs. had – purposefully it seemed - caught the eye of the little girl in the back seat in the window’s reflection. The little chatterbox girl who was a stranger to me. They exchanged a look … What kind of look was it, let me see, how do I describe it? It was a knowing look. As if they shared a secret. A secret about Devil’s Den? A secret about why we were stopping here? I didn’t know, but I felt it in the air, their silent conversation. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more, to try to hear what they were saying to each other, somehow. When I looked again, I saw a shadow, and I could swear, just for a minute, that I saw the face of The Hitchhiker. A young Hitchhiker. Around 19, 20. Of course, back then, I didn’t know him as The Hitchhiker. He was just a face. In the window. Staring back at me. But there he was, sitting right there next to that little girl. What? I looked harder at the reflection in the window, and saw only shadows. I looked in my rearview mirrow to see into the back seat, and he was not there. But the little girl was. She seemed to know I was looking at her. I looked at her for a long, long time. And she smiled back at me, the sweetest smile I have ever seen. I wondered at her. Who was she? And why was she travelling with us. I’d find out, but not until some years passed.
CHAPTER I. 1964
Mister carefully put the photograph back into his book, his face still puzzled. He leaned over and put the book back into my glovebox, being careful to fit it just so. (He was always very careful with me, which I appreciated. I mean, we didn’t have the kind of relationship or connection that N. and I have, nothing like that at all - this was long before I met N. - but he was kind to me.) He closed the glovebox with a gentle “click.” As he put his foot on the gas and made a left turn, starting us down the road to Devil’s Den, I made a mental note to look at the photograph later when I was alone, and try to figure this out for us all.
The dirt road down to Devil’s Den was steep. Winding. Dusty. There had been no rain out here in weeks and weeks, so dust was everywhere. In some places we were kicking up so much dust we couldn’t see where we were going. The road wore on. Twists and turns. Ups and downs. Hills everywhere. Dust and more dust. It was hot, and getting hotter. I was getting so dirty.
And, well, truth be known, Blog, at this point, I think my passengers were getting frustrated with me. This happens sometimes on long journeys. My travelers were frustrated with the fact that I was a convertible, a fact they had loved about me only hours before, but now they were getting dirty, and hot, and they didn’t like it. They were getting frustrated with the fact that I had to go so slowly, so, so slowly, down this winding road. The road was very winding, Blog. Very narrow. In my own defense, I am a cruiser, this was all new to me! I had to go slow, lest I go off the road. You always have to keep your eyes on the road. And although I always want to please my driver no matter what shape I’m in, and I didn’t want them to be annoyed with me, I couldn’t help it. I guess I was a little scared, if you must know. (And of note, I was concerned, but like I said, it wasn’t like it was happening with me and N. or anything. I didn’t have the kind of relationship with this family that I now have with Neil. When Neil is frustrated with me, which is rare, but it happens, then I am extremely concerned. That’s an all-hands-on-deck, four-alarm-fire, holy shit type of situation. An emergency. That’s the kind of thing that simply has to be fixed. It simply has to be. My connection to Neil, of course, is sacred. But I digress. Back to the story.)
After what seemed like a very long time, we came to a fork in the road. I hoped they were going to turn right, into the very lush, very dark forest. It called to me. I thought hard, trying to make them turn me that way … I even leaned a little to the right, you know, the power of suggestion and all that. Huzzah! I felt myself going into the woods, lovely dark and deep.
After a beautiful drive through a forest of towering trees - it felt so good to be in the shade again, like cool running love, cleansing me - we came to a clearing. Mister rolled me to a stop and everyone got out. My doors opened and shut, echoing into the forest - Slam! slamslamslam. Slam! slamslamslam. We all blinked in the bright light of the sun, and looked around.
Almost immediately, the little girl disappeared. No one seemed concerned, but I was. Where had she gone to, and so quickly? I heard a splash. Oh no! I thought. I didn’t see Mister and Mrs. anywhere, so I rolled myself forward to the edge of the clearing to where the sound had come from. I saw the little girl, swimming in the most beautiful glacier lake I had ever seen. There was someone else in the lake, at a distance. I couldn’t make out who it was, but he looked familiar. Suddenly they both disappeared under water. I was in a panic (I can be such a worrier.) I felt myself rolling forward, and wondered if I had forgotten to put myself back into Park. Wha?! I wasn’t in Park, I was in Drive, and being driven! Being driven by - and this was the first time I ever laid eyes on him for real, this is, I guess, a prequel to a previous story I have told you, Blog - The Hitchhiker. He was soaking wet. And I had the feeling that in a moment I was going to be too.
I was right. The Hitchhiker (a very young Hitchhiker, remember), drove me straight down the hill at breakneck speed and into the water. Not just into the water, but right down under the water. I’m a car! Oh brother, I thought, I will never get out of this mess. This kid doesn’t even have his license, I bet. I didn’t have time to dwell on it though because being that I was not only wet, but still underwater, I had other things on my mind. Strangely, I felt like I was driving on an open road. The smoothest road I’ve ever been on! I was cruising, on the bottom of a glacier lake, just like I was on the proud highway. The Hitchhiker laughed out loud, his voice clear as a bell, and patted my steering wheel. It no longer felt so much like he was driving, but more like I was driving myself; I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I knew I had to get there.
CHAPTER II. THE PURPLE CAVE.
I drove and drove, all the way across the deep lake. Well, under it, I guess I should say. I could see leaves falling from the trees on the surface, way over my head. We came to a wall. It seemed to be made of stone. It was hard to tell, exactly, because it was dark down there. The Hitchhiker hopped out, shutting my door behind him. He walked right through the wall. I sat there. Idling. What the hell was I supposed to do now? I was staring at a wall of stone, no idea how to permeate it. Or, indeed, even if I should?No idea at all. I wasn’t sure what to do. A few minutes went by. The Hitchhiker came back out through the wall, just the way he had gone in - Just. Like That. ! I looked at him with questions in both of my headlights. He gave me a most annoyed look, and beckoned to me. Come ON, he seemed to be saying. What is it you are not getting? He walked through the wall again. Still, I sat. Idling. This time he was behind the wall longer. Finally, he reappeared. Still looking annoyed, he kind of glanced at me in disgust and rolled his eyes. But then, he stood facing the wall, right in front of me. He took a stone out of his pocket, a kind of piece of slate. It had a point on it. He drew a large rectangle, reaching all the way to one side and then the other, and then high over his head. It was clear that he was reaching beyond what he normally does. His reach was far, and wide. He stepped back, made a kind of sarcastic bow and roll of his hand, as if to say, Behold The Queen! Carry on! But he was smiling. It was such a familiar smile … How could it be so familiar? I looked ahead at the wall, with the big drawn rectangle. Uh. Did he expect me to drive through the wall? I looked to him, again. He stared at me for a long, long time. He looked like he was deciding something. His eyes were so intense I could not breathe. (Never mind that I was underwater, and I’m a car, so breathing is really beside the point. This is a story, Blog. Roll with it, as we cars like to say.)
We stared at each other, down there in the dark. It felt like we were having an entire conversation, without speaking a single word. I knew what we were talking about. And I didn’t. But I liked it. Finally, it seemed like he made up his mind, and he moved between me and the wall, again. He drew a small circle, a button, on the side of the rectangle. He looked at me, and nodded, a smirk on his face now - he seemed happy. He reached for the button. Pressing his finger right into the stone, he leaned into it. To my amazement, the rectangle, drawn into the stone, was a giant garage door. It was opening. I was going in. To where, or what, I didn’t know. But I couldn’t wait.
The Hitchhiker hopped over my driver’s side door and into my driver’s seat. I guess he figured I needed help navigating these waters, so he decided to drive. I was so relieved. So grateful. As we rolled forward, the door silently closed behind us. I glanced into my rearview mirror. There was no going back now I thought, and peered intently into the darkness ahead. I was ready, come what may. What I saw took my breath away (roll with it). We were inside the most beautiful cave. There was no more water, just, well, stone. And silver. And purple. Everything was purple. The strange thing about it was that it was almost holographic. If you looked one way, you saw red, another way, blue. But when you looked at it straight on, with both eyes open, you saw the most magnificent, most majestic shade of purple. I was lost in the color for a while.
We drove on, the Hitchhiker whistling a tune that I had never heard but knew somehow in my heart, and then I saw her. The little girl! She was running up ahead of us, and laughing, her laughter bouncing off the cavern walls, making a strange kind of hypnotic music. As she ran, pink and purple flowers dropped from her hands, one after the other, but yet she was holding nothing. Pink and purple ribbons streamed from her hair, she wore a dress of purple velvet. She hadn’t been wearing that before! I felt the Hitchhiker smile to himself. We drove around a corner and came to a stop. The Hitchhiker got out. I watched as he reached into his shirt pocket, and took out something wrapped in an old tattered bandana. Carefully, he laid the bundle on my hood, and began to unwrap it. The little girl came skipping over, and jumped up and down at his side, trying to see. When the bandana was finally undone, we all gasped. The light was blinding.
There sat a stone, about the size of your fist. I knew it instantly as the very rare Pink Opal, for Mrs. was a bit of a gemologist. The girl jumped up and down more excitedly. Quickly, instinctively, she reached out to touch it. Just as quickly, just as instinctively, the Hitchhiker grabbed her hand. She looked up at him, hurt by his gruff gesture. He said nothing. But he never let go of her hand. Moving more slowly now, he took her hand, still in his, and opened it, ever so gently, for she had balled it into a tight fist. One by one he peeled back her fingers from themselves, so that finally her small hand lay flat inside his own. With his other hand, he took the Pink Opal, and placed it in her hand. Then, one by one, reversing his earlier gesture, and just as gently, he wrapped her little fingers around the stone. He closed his hand around her hand, and the Opal. They stared at each other. I couldn’t breath, the exchange was somehow so tender. She closed her eyes as the Pink Opal disappeared into her hand. NO, I mean, REALLY. It DISAPPEARED into her hand. She opened her hand and it was GONE. Why should this surprise me, I thought to myself, when I am here, at the bottom of a lake, inside a purple cave, with two mysterious, magical strangers? I don’t know why, but it did. Where had the Pink Opal gone? How could it have just disappeared into the girl’s hand like that? Who was that girl? Who was the man? What did it mean? My mind began to spin so fast and I became so confused I guess I passed out.
When I woke up, it was a few days later. It was still 1964, and I was back at home, with the Mister and the Mrs., in my two car garage, staring at some silver garbage cans and a rusty old lawn mower. In the corner of the garage sat a dusty old bike that no one rode anymore. It was purple. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
CHAPTER III. 2010.
Fast forward. To a whole other lifetime, for me. All the way to the present day. To just a few months ago - April 28th, to be exact. The Full Moon. The Full Pink Moon. Of course. I was here at Brizio’s, looking at the pink moon through the big skylights in the ceiling. (Thank goodness for those skylights! Bless you Roy Brizio!). Just minding my own business, listening to the quiet. Thinking about my amazing journey, past, present and future. My headlights started to droop … Sleep was creeping in. But of course, you know how things work around here, Blog. The Full Moon almost always brings adventure. And this night was no exception.
I guess it’s her hands that I always think of first. Remember most. I had just drifted off to sleep when I felt the most gentle touch on my hood. Her fingers were just barely touching me, but they might as well as have been plunged right through my hood all the way into my engine, I felt such a shock. I lifted my headlights, but I didn’t need to turn them on. The moon shone like a pink spotlight through the skylight, and she stood in the middle of it, her face turned to the sky. Her eyes were closed. I stared.
I was struck by her beauty, but even more by her presence. She was dressed like a normal person, in jeans and a t-shirt and a plaid shirt like N.’s , but there was something … I don’t know. Something different. Her long dark hair reached all the way down her back, and seemed to be moving around as if she were standing on a hill, with the wind blowing in her face, but there was no wind in the garage in the middle of the night. And she had kind of a glow about her. I watched as slowly, very slowly, she opened her eyes. The glow around her seemed to get brighter. She kept her face turned up to that skylight, not looking at me. I didn’t say a word (trust me, Blog, by now with these visiting strangers I know just to keep quiet until they tell me what’s going on). As I watched, I saw her mouthing words, but I couldn’t hear anything. I strained to hear her conversation with … With whom? I looked around, but all the other cars were asleep. She wasn’t talking to them. Was she having a conversation with me? I hoped not, because I couldn’t hear a word she was saying. With herself? With the moon? I knew better than to rule anything out, including that.
Finally, she nodded at something, smiled, and then turned her face to me. When she looked at me, I felt like I had been shocked (trust me, I’m an electric car, I know what that feels like.) She laughed and it felt like summer rain. Oh no. Another one who can read my mind?
“Yes, LV,” she said, a laugh still in her voice. Her voice made me feel like I was somebody’s first car. A teenager’s first car. Like a song from those you’re-someone’s-first-car years, the kind of song that always makes you happy, even when you hear it decades later. I wanted her to talk to me all night long. (She kind of did but that part of the story is all ahead of us, Blog. Hang in there with me.) She hopped into my driver’s seat and we took off, out of the garage, onto the street, down the hill, over the railroad tracks and on our way. I was surprised to find that without her saying another word, I knew exactly where we were headed.
It’s a long way from California to Devil’s Den. We drove through the night, the next day, and the next night. We talked and talked, but I still didn’t know anything about her. Other than that I was ready to drive forever with her at the wheel. I wondered if she knew my friends, The Lady of The White Buffalo. Or John Lame Deer. Or Neil. I didn’t ask. But when these things crossed my mind, it was like she could see my questions, feel my doubts. She would stop talking and kind of very tenderly pat my steering wheel, or my dash. It was oddly reassuring, given that I hadn’t even voiced my concerns aloud, to her, or even to myself. Finally, I saw the old sign. Devil’s Den. She turned left with nary a brake or turn signal and we headed down the old dusty road on two wheels. When I regained my balance (JESUS), it was just as I remembered it, although a little harder to navigate in the dark. We reached the lake at daybreak.
I prepared myself to hit the water again. But no. Of course I was wrong. Slowly, we drove around the lake to the other side. We were in the pines, in the pines, and I was worried about getting scratched. I felt those pine trees running their long fingers over my fenders and doors as we drove at a snail’s pace through them, squeeeeeeeeak, and I thought Neil is not going to be very happy about this mess! Oh well. I hoped we’d have time to at least go through the car wash on the way back. And when that would be, I couldn’t even venture a guess. When we got all the way around to the other side, we rolled to a stop. She hopped out, not even opening the door. Patting my door from the other side she laughed and said “Well what good is a convertible if you can’t do that, eh LV?!” I winked at her? Yes. I did. I laughed at myself. She was enchanting. I felt like I had known her forever.
I followed her as she walked down a small hill, pushing brush out of our way as she went. I had a feeling we were heading to a back door to the underwater cave as we headed further and further down the hill. Finally we came to a clearing, and I could just make out what looked like an entrance to a cave. Suddenly, my mysterious guide froze. She turned to me and very deliberately put her finger to her lips. She stayed that way for a moment, staring at me. The wind kicked up. I watched as she crouched low, and somehow moved forward, without making a sound. I was surprised to find that I wasn’t making a sound either as I followed her. We drew closer to the cave, and around the last corner, inside a small grove of tall pines just at the cave’s entrance, we saw them. Hunters. They were sitting around a bonfire, and they seemed to be very drunk. I grew fearful for my friend. She stepped into the light. All talking stopped.
The biggest man stood up. He began with the usual rap. Well well well. What do we have here. Et cetera. I felt a combination of fear and rage as I watched my new friend stand up taller, square her shoulders. She looked so small all of a sudden. All the men stood up. I didn’t think it was out of gentlemanly obligation. Before I even knew what had happened, the first man had drawn close to my friend, and reaching out with his large hunting knife for no reason, no reason at all, lopped off a long long lock of my friend’s hair. As he held it up for the others to see, a roar went up. Oh! I thought. Thank goodness! These men will intervene. But no. It was not a roar of indignation but of laughter. Of cheer! I was horrified. And terrified, now.
The man moved forward to my friend again. She stepped back this time. She backed all the way up to one of the big pine trees in the grove. The man followed her. He threw her lock of hair at her feet. Don’t pick it up! Don’t pick it up! I thought. It’s a trick! It’s a trick! But she was already leaning forward. As she moved toward the lock of hair there on the ground, I noticed she had a stick in her other hand. She drew a circle around herself in the dirt with it. We watched as she picked up the lock of hair and looked at it. Her eyes moved from the hair to the man to me. I was shocked to see that her eyes were dancing. She wasn’t afraid at all! Suddenly she put her hand on the tree behind her, almost in a kind of knocking. The tree split in half and she plunged her hand right into the center of it. The men looked confused. I just smiled to myself. When she pulled her hand out of the tree it was dripping with sap. She took the lock of hair in from her other hand, and with the sap, reattached it to the rest of her hair. Reaching behind her, she put the tree back together by leaning her body against first one side and then the other. She clapped her hands together and the sap dropped to the ground. She looked at the men and smiled.
The big man lunged at her and now her face turned angry. Raising her hands to the sky and stomping her foot on the ground, she called out in a voice that sounded like thunder and the ground began to shake. The ground began to move, beneath our feet. Uh. Tires. For me. Pine cones fell down like hail, bombarding the men, but somehow avoiding her. And me. The pine cones fell so fast and so furiously you couldn’t see your own bumper. The men fled, screaming like little girls and the storm stopped. I saw my new friend running now, her hair flying out behind her, into the cave. I started my engine and rolled after her, the pine cone carpet making a strange crunching sound under my tires as I rolled on. The smell of pine was everywhere. It made me strangely nostalgic. My mind flooded with memories that were not even my own.
CHAPTER IV. THE PINK OPAL RETURNS
I wasn’t prepared for the scene I came in on inside the cave. My friend sat in the middle of a circle of dead deer, and she was crying. A large puddle formed on the ground in front of her from her tears. Suddenly, I saw one very small deer lift its head. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t dead! Wobbling a bit, it stood up, and came to the puddle of tears, drinking from it gently. I watched in amazement as its wounds disappeared and it walked right out of the cave. One by one, each deer followed this mysterious process. My friend continued to cry, filling the puddle of tears, until the last deer came back to life, healed its wounds, and walked out of the cave. The woman stood up, drying her eyes. She looked at me, for what seemed like a long while.
“It’s probably time for us to have a talk, LV,” she said, and she came over to me, hopped back over the door, and sat in the driver’s seat. She turned off my lights and we were in complete darkness inside the cave for a moment. I heard the strike of a match, and suddenly the cave was glowing with light. There were lanterns along the walls! Somehow my friend had lit them from inside of me. I looked at her hands, she was not holding any matches. Oh well. I didn’t bother to wonder about that. There were larger issues at hand, I was sure of that.
“LV, do you know who I am?” she began.
“No,” I said, eager for her to go on. She stayed silent. Thinking.
“My name is Honor.”
“Hi,” I said. She laughed.
“Hi, LV,” she said. ”Nice to meet you. Again.”
“Again?” I asked.
“You don’t remember me, LV?”
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” I said. She seemed to be thinking again. I was thinking too. Could it be? Was this … The little girl from that day?!
“Yes, LV, it’s me,” Honor said. I wondered if she still had The Pink Opal.
I didn’t have to wonder long. She opened her hand, and The Pink Opal seemed to grow right from the center of her palm. She reached for it with her other hand and laid it on my dash. It glowed in the light of the lanterns on the cave walls. We stared at it. She spoke.
“LV, this Pink Opal was passed down from my great grandmother to my grandmother to my mother to me. Do you know what the Opal represents in the spiritual world?”
“Hope,” she said again, softly. ”It is my birthstone.” And then, even more softly, “It was my mother’s name.”
And then, Honor’s story began to come.
CHAPTER V. GRACE, HOPE & HONOR (LOVE LEADS THE WAY)
“LV, when you met me, a long, long time ago, when I was a little girl, I had been sent here by my mother for the summer.” She paused, and added more quietly, “It was no accident that you belonged to her friends.”
This shocked me, because it meant that this journey I’m on now had been set out for me from the beginning. My destiny! I didn’t say anything. The memories came flooding in. The Hitchhiker! He had been there. She knew him.
She reached her hand up to touch The Pink Opal. It seemed to glow brighter when she touched it.
“This Pink Opal carries Hope for the World, LV. It’s not just a stone. Not just a symbol. It’s real.” She picked it up and held it up to her cheek for a moment, closing her eyes. I felt like I could see inside of her where the Opal touched her face. “My mother sent us here with it back then, to keep it safe. She said she had to go away for a while, and that it was important The Opal was safe. She was afraid, I could feel it.”
“Us?” I said.
She smiled. “Yes, LV. Us. The Hitchhiker … He is always with me,” she said quickly.
I had some questions. The Pink Opal had been in the Hitchhiker’s pocket, but he had put it in Honor’s hand. She had left with it, hadn’t she? It hadn’t stayed there in the cave, had it? And if that was the case, why did we have to come all the way back here to retrieve it? It was a mystery. I didn’t voice my questions, because I assumed Honor would hear them in her mind and answer them. I don’t know if she heard, but she didn’t answer.
“LV, you are on an important journey. It has been your destiny from the beginning. You carry the Power of The Feminine like no other car on Earth. You are … One of us,” she said.
I felt the wind kick up outside the door of the cave when she said “one of us.” I looked out there. The trees seemed to almost bow down to her - us? - when she said that. She smiled at them, outside there.
“One of us?” I said.
“I come from a long line of powerful women,” Honor laughed. And then she grew more serious. “My grandmother’s name was Grace. She was born in California in 1895 to a very influential family. She had one twin brother. I forget his name, but I think it began with a “J.” Her mother, my great grandmother, Anadyomene (everyone just called her Anna), was a strong, independent woman, a powerhouse in the suffragette movement. She loved my grandmother, Grace, beyond all reason, and took her with her everywhere from the minute she was born; they were very close. When my Gramma Grace was 16, it was an important time for women in California, and in the world - It was 1911. Remember, the eyes of the nation were on California in 1911, LV, it was then that California became the sixth and largest state so far to approve women’s suffrage in the United States. ”
Powerful women indeed I thought! I felt proud of them. Of us? Honor shot me a stern look and I felt embarrassed. I think. I’m not sure what I felt. She went on.
“The day after that vote was passed, there was a parade down Main Street. My great grandmother Anna led the parade, riding on a beautiful float pulled by six black horses, pink and purple ribbons were everywhere. She held the Pink Opal in the pocket of her long dress.
Gramma Grace - remember she was 16 - was a bit of a hell-raiser. Evidently my great grandmother was too. In any case, she loved my grandmother so much that she was rather indulgent with her. When the float got to the center of town, where the entire town was gathered, Gramma Grace stepped out of the back of the float. The crowd gasped. She wore no hat, and had bobbed her hair! Which was the fashion in Paris back then, but unheard of in the United States for a young woman of proper breeding. Further, she was wearing pants, not a long skirt and corset. It was a scandal of the highest order! And on such a day! All the men in the town began to mumble that this was the beginning of the end, that they had been tricked, that they never should have given women the right to vote, and so on. My great grandmother just laughed and laughed. My grandmother - at 16, mind you - stepped up and in her scandalous attire shouted to the men in the crowd ‘You didn’t GIVE us anything! We have simply TAKEN WHAT BELONGED TO US!’ The women in the crowd began to cheer, but then remembered their decorum and stopped. Some of them rebelliously clapped politely. My great grandmother continued to laugh and laugh.”
At this Honor began to laugh herself. As she did so, the wind came right into the cave and swirled around us and it looked like the whole world was dancing. “Oh LV, this story is getting so long, I’m so sorry. I haven’t told this story to anyone in such a long time.”
“It’s okay,” I said, “I like it.” But secretly of course I was kind of wishing she would get to the part about me. She smiled at me.
“Don’t worry, LV, you’re an important part of this story.” I smiled back at her. She went on.
“So after that, of course, my grandmother had to leave town. In fact, she left right at that moment. My great grandmother stood up and hugged her in front of the entire town, and when she did, she slipped The Pink Opal into my grandmother’s hand. My grandmother left California for Alaska in 1911, and never went back.”
“Alaska?” I said.
“Yes,” she said, seriously, staring at me with such intensity I froze.
“My grandmother never married, but in 1921, when she was 26, she had a child with an Alaskan man she met the very first day she got to Alaska, he was the great love of her life. The child, of course, was my mother. Hope. Hope was her name. Nerriungnerk, actually. That’s how you say Hope in Inuit.” Honor held the Opal to her cheek again.
“My mother also never married, but had one child, me, when she was 38. My father, like my grandfather, is Alaskan.”
I wondered where all this was going. But that was all I was going to hear right then. Suddenly Honor stopped talking and the Pink Opal disappeared into her hand. “Time’s up” was all she said. I don’t know what happened next, but the next thing I knew, I was pulling into a gas station on the side of the road, near home. Honor was at the wheel. We came screeching to a halt, and she hopped out and went inside. I looked around. I saw someone walking down the road, carrying a backpack and pulling a horse behind him. Yes. Of course it was him. The Hitchhiker. I watched as Honor came out and saw him coming. She ran to him, her hair flying behind her, her feet barely touching the ground, and they embraced, right there in the middle of the road. I watched as she talked animatedly and he listened. She motioned to her hair, and put her head down for a moment. She must be telling him about the incident with the hunters, I thought. Suddenly the wind began to howl and dark clouds gathered overhead. The Hitchhiker must have grown angry at her story — had he made the weather change? Anything is possible around here. She looked up at him as he examined her hair, holding it in his hand. He raised her hair to his face and held it to his lips as she watched him, her eyes wide. I felt my heart catch, his gesture was so tender. The sky cleared. The wind died down. They walked right up to me. There was something so easy about them. So natural. It made me happy, somehow, to see them like that, just walking and holding hands.
Honor stood in front of me with her hands on my hood for a long while, looking at me for a long, long time, looking right into me through my windshield. Then she turned, embraced The Hitchhiker again, whispered something in his ear, and got onto the horse he had pulled behind him. He laughed at whatever she had said and winked at her. She rode off, her long hair flowing out behind her, and looking … And looking like a flock of blue black ravens! This was the same mysterious woman who had been with The Hitchhiker when I first met him, when he joined us for my road trip to Medicine Wheel! The Foggy Trip! The Red Feather! As he hopped behind the steering wheel and pulled me back onto the road, I noticed that The Hitchhiker now wore a red feather in his hat. Honor must have put it there when she whispered to him. It hadn’t been there before.
CHAPTER VI. MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH.
I don’t really remember the drive home. But when I woke up, I was in the most beautiful building at the ranch. A special place, that always reminds me of the cedar longhouse I visited when I visited the first nations of Canada, even though that hadn’t happened yet. What? Never mind.
I woke up in the most beautiful building at the ranch. I felt happy. Hopeful. Excited. I heard something. It was Neil! He was crouched down next to my passenger door, examining something. Uh oh. Probably scratches from those pine trees. Or the pine cone maelstrom. He stood up. He went and got something and started rubbing it into the scratches. He takes such good care of me, I thought. I hoped he wasn’t mad about the scratches. I wondered … If he knew anything of my adventure. Sometimes it seems like he just knows. He spoke first.
“Morning, LV,” he said, when he felt me watching him, his voice was happy.
“Hi Neil!” I said, so excited to see him, as I always am.
“How ya doin’, LV” he said.
“Well. I had quite a … ” and I began to tell him the story. I shortened it, because this story, as you now know, Blog, got rather long. Sometimes that just happens. But I figured Neil probably didn’t have time for all that, he’s busy, you know, so I gave him an abbreviated version. Kind of an Executive Summary. He listened, intently, as he always does. He is such a good listener. Which is convenient, because I talk a lot.
“What do you think it all means?”
“What do you think it means, LV?”
“Well, I thought that maybe it meant that I have been destined, since the beginning, for this journey. You know. To carry Hope into the world.”
“But where’s The Pink Opal? Shouldn’t that be with me, if that is the meaning of the story?”
“You don’t have it?” Neil said.
“I don’t think so,” I said. I looked around. I hoped Neil would open my glovebox. He reached out and did.
There was something in there, but it wasn’t The Pink Opal. It was a letter. Neil held it up, still folded for me to see. He raised an eyebrow, and kind of shook the folded letter there in his hand. As in “Do you want me to read it?”
“Read it to me, Neil! Read it to me!” I cried. He was teasing me.
He smiled that kind of half smile of his, opened the letter, and began to read aloud to me. I love it when he does that.
You have been chosen, as you have been told before, by our mutual friends The Lady of The White Buffalo and John Lame Deer, to carry Hope into the world. You are Hope’s transportation! The time is now. The world needs Hope. Without Hope, all is lost. You, LV, are a physical manifestation of Hope for the planet, and a manifestation of, well, me. I know that’s hard to understand, but let me just tell you, it’s no mistake that we were both born in 1959. I am here to help you now.
My great grandmother was Love. My grandmother, Grace. My mother, Hope. Their names are not accidental. They were not chosen for them. They were born into those names. Born into a purpose. So was I. So were you.
My name is Honor. I am here, on this Earth, now, to Honor my ancestors, Love and Grace and Hope, in this world. It is my job to honor them, in the here and now. To make sure they can stay, here, in this world. For us all. I have come back from Alaska to California now to meet my destiny, back to the town where my Great Grandmother was born, where my grandmother Grace was born, and fled. I have come home.
To them. And to you.
Neil stopped reading suddenly. He had a far away look in his eye. He looked outside for a long time, into the trees. The wind kicked up out there.
“Neil?” I said.
He didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, he laid the letter down on the seat next to him.
“Neil?” I said, again.
“LV?” he said, so softly I almost didn’t hear him.
“Um … The Pink Opal. Why don’t I have it? Why didn’t she leave it with me?”
“Are you sure she didn’t?” Neil said.
I thought. And thought. I was sure. “I am sure,” I said.
Neil laughed, and patted my steering wheel, affectionately.
“Are you thinking, LV? Surely you’re not thinking.”
I was perplexed. And then he said,
“LV. Think. Where was The Pink Opal the last time you saw it?”
“In her hand,” I said.
“Right.” Neil said. And then, he hopped out, heading for the garage door.
I was still confused. But just before he headed out of the garage, Neil turned and said,
“Honor stood in front of you at the gas station, LV. Her hands on your hood.” He winked at me, kind of smiled to himself, and walked out.
How could I have missed it? Of course. The Pink Opal was under the hood! Honor had released The Pink Opal from the palm of her hand right into my hood when she stood there, looking at me for such a long long time! I was overwhelmed with it all.
I watched Neil as he walked up the hill. The wind blew, and I thought I saw it. Could it be? A very old, torn, quite faded bandana in his back pocket, just like the one The Hitchhiker had carried The Pink Opal in all those years ago, back in 1964. What the hell?! How does this keep happening? It was uncanny.
Wait. There was something even more uncanny. I suddenly remembered that I had never told Neil that part about the gas station, and about Honor placing her hands on my hood there … I had left those kind of details out when I shortened the story! What the … I looked for him outside. He was standing on the top of the hill, his face up to the sun. It looked almost like he was talking to someone up there in the sky. I wondered.
I wondered, too, why he had suddenly stopped reading the letter, and become so lost in thought. I looked down at the letter there on my seat. It seems he had read the entire letter to me, but for the signature. It was signed