“I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold.”
I used to sing these words loudly on my morning commute to work from Kapa’a to Lihue. Funny thing was: I wasn’t really looking for a mate, since I just got out of an I-was-half-block-away-from-the-courthouse-to-finalize-the-marriage-paperwork relationship. Carefree, single, and completely in love the beautiful island of Kaua’i, I soaked up the sunshine, bathed in warm water, hiked as many trails as I could, and immersed myself fully in the island life. I had the dark, tanned skin, golden streaks in my hair, and beaming smiles to show for it.
Unexpectedly, six months later, a dashing young solider swept me off my feet at a friend’s wedding. So, I packed my bag, said goodbye to dear friends and the island that taught me so many lessons, and moved to Washington DC. Things changed; hearts got broken; the soldier and I parted ways. Obama was elected for a second term. There was talk of the US pulling out of Iraq. Through it all, Neil Young still serenaded in my ears, on my commute from Mount Vernon to Anacostia Metro Station for 3 years.
In 2014, a health scare and another bad relationship later, I drove my meager possessions across the country; it was time to be home, to be closer to family. It was really time to plant roots. This nomad was ready to find permanence, at least for awhile.
So, up and down the Avocado Highway (the 15,) from San Diego to San Marcos, Neil Young kept me company once again.
Three months after my arrival in San Diego, I met a handsome teacher/farmer/skateboarder/surfer. On our second date, he invited me to explore natural hot springs in Apple Valley. After 2 days of soaking up Mother Earth’s sulfuric hot streams, we headed back home in the same car.
Let me play you a couple of songs that represent a bit of who I am, I whispered.
The first song was “Old Man” and the second was “Heart of Gold.”
“Heart of Gold” became our song.
In the beginning of our courtship, we had a big fight. Our egos were in the way and our hearts were fragile; he had ex-wife of 12 years baggage and I had my pride to protect. It was the make-it-or-break-it fight. As E walked down from his house to Oceanside Strand, the lyrics of “Heart of Gold” echoed from inside a restaurant to the sidewalk. Thanks to Neil Young, we got over our egos and made it. Since then, the bond of our relationship was cemented. Stronger and stronger each day.
Fast forward 2 years. Laid out on the stretcher and rolled off into the Operating Room for the Ceasarean, I was shivering violently, coming off the many doses of Dervidil, Pitocin, and Epidural in the previous 37 hours. E was next to me, holding my hands. I remember to those rough, farming/workshop hands. They were the first things I noticed when I first met E. I didn’t get to hold those hands until 6 weeks after we met. When I did, though, poetry was flowing. Really. So much poetry!
There were 3 doctors surrounding my bed. One was using a needle to poke around my body, testing the strength of the anesthesia. Can you feel this, he asked as he slightly stabbed different parts of my shoulders. My OB Gyn, the main surgeon was chatting away with her partner. I couldn’t feel the cuts. I couldn’t see the intrusion. All I knew was that in less than an hour, our little guy will be in the world with us. That was enough to give me strength.
Some time between getting cut and drifting off into sleep, I heard E’s voice:
Can you hear that, V-bert? Heart of Gold is playing. Bob Dylan is playing!
Even though I was under the knife, shivering, and almost knocked out, my sass remained:
No, honey. It’s Neil Young.
Call it serendipity or mere coincidence.
I would like to think that because I was patient enough to wait for my “heart of gold,” the Universe brought me my ideal life partner, and ultimately our beautiful son.
This is our birth story. It doesn’t begin with the decision to do labor induction. Or the checking in the hospital. Or the rapid contractions that sent me to moaning loudly for 24 hours. It began way before E and I met. It took roots when E and I, individually, decided for ourselves that we deserve to be with someone worthwhile; someone with a heart of gold.