A funny thing happened on our way home from the Woman's March on Washington last January.
'Iokepa and I were stuck shoulder-to-shoulder, buttock-to-buttock within a (genteel) crowd of exhausted Marchers hermetically-sealed inside a disabled Metro car in a subway tunnel underneath the Nation's Capital - for three hours. This after more than 12 hours enthusiastically chanting, marching, waving signs, and generally placing our aging bodies in the Women's Rights column amidst 500,000 other bodies. It was the day after the Presidential Inauguration.
We'd been on our Brooks-Running-shoe feet for the duration - and now, standing upright inside that immobile Metro car, my lower back was seriously protesting its own resistance. There was no room to squat for relief and no place to lean.
At that moment, a seated, formerly-sound-asleep, young woman sprang to her feet. "Oh, you've been standing for an hour and a half," she said, "I'm so sorry; I'd been sleeping; please take my seat."
Without a moment's hesitation, I did. And the conversation with the lovely young woman in the elegant white, wool coat ("My mother told me not to wear it to the March - it would be ruined) began.
'Iokepa - the extrovert of this marriage - told this woman our story, and more importantly, the story of the Native Hawaiian people and their matriarchal culture. She (and half the subway car) heard his resonant voice and listened.
I asked for her story. She and a friend had driven down from New York City where they worked for a company called Squarespace. Techno-morons that we are, neither 'Iokepa nor I had ever heard of it. Others, next to me in the car, most decidedly had. But there was no further mention of her work.
She asked me to name the books I'd written that would continue the cultural story 'Iokepa had begun - and I handed her a card with The Return Voyage book-jacket image, our names, and our website.
Inevitably, our Metro train was pushed through the dark tunnel into a well-lit Metro station by a second Metro train. Everyone disembarked; we said our farewells, and headed for our first Uber ride to our parked car.
The Emergent Website
At least two weeks later - perhaps more - we were on the road on speaking tour, and out of the blue, we got this email:
Hello Inette and 'Iokepa,
I've been thinking a lot about you two since we shared a funny moment in DC after the Women's March. My name is Jessica, and Inette I offered you my seat when our DC metro train broke down after the March. 'Iokepa, you told me the quick version of your story. I've been holding on to your card since that night.
You both really struck me as incredible humans, though we only briefly interacted. I've been diving into your website, and wanted to reach out and offer to help as I've been enjoying your take on life immensely.
I'm not sure if you have a need for a website refresh, but I have made many (I work at Squarespace - which is DIY product, but I build them a lot for friends and family). I'd certainly be willing to donate my time to do this!
Let me know your thoughts.
We were deeply touched by Jessica's words, of course, and overwhelmed by her act of generosity.
We were also awake to the perfection of the timing: 'Iokepa had just passed the twenty year mark since he'd accepted his cultural role in this ancient Hawaiian prophecy. For ten of those years, we'd lived in tents (no phone or computer) on the beaches, walking the land, asking for nothing other than what the ancestors provided. Those years were called the grooming period and I wrote about them in Grandmothers Whisper. For the next ten years, we were guided to speak the Native Hawaiian cultural story across the United States. I have written about these years in The Return Voyage.
When we transitioned from the first to the second of those decades - a dear friend on the Island of Hawaii offered to build us a website. We laughed at the idea, but we succumbed. That simple website has been in place for ten years now, virtually unchanged. It has been maintained for the cost of friendship by its creator - Tom Leonard. Our debt of gratitude (easily repaid) is love and enduring friendship.
We enter, now, the third decade of this journey that defines 'Iokepa and my lifework. The ancestral Grandmothers told 'Iokepa to anticipate changes.
It appears that the first of those changes is what you now hold in your hands: the beautiful new Return Voyage website, created cooperatively over these past months by the giving, supportive, talented hands of Ms. Jessica Kausen, whohas gently tutored me, patiently nudged me, and allowed me to write, re-write, and then re-write again the words on her beautiful pages. Actually, they are no longer pages are they?
'Iokepa and I welcome you to browse, to comment, to offer feed-back on these changes and much more. 'Iokepa often says: "The Return Voyage has never been about us." I'll correct him here - it is most certainly about us - but we both define that us as broadly as the visible and invisible limits of our imaginations.
Welcome to our new home.