Each day, I find more vessels filled with water.
My collection of string art ships peers down at me while I pour one more cup of water down the drain. It seems all too natural a process now, one week after the waters came pouring down through the rafters above.
In my past musings on home Tiki bars, I’ve told quite a few stories about the wonderful and inspiring creations of Polynesiacs. I’ve loved featuring the many spirits of creation and obsession through storytelling and photography. But, today I write different story, a story about the energy opposite from creation, a story about the watery destruction of Queequeg’s Coffin, my home Tiki bar.
When we arrived home, the floor was a shallow lagoon. I immediately noticed my blender filled with water to the rim. Les noticed the large serving bowls on top of the fridge full of water. So many vessels needed emptying: teacups, plates, vases, and kitchen drawers. When I turned around, I saw my laptop was still open on the kitchen island, practically submerged in water. When I considered how many hours of work had just been drowned, I had to move on. The next few days my routine would consist of pouring water out of Tiki mugs and noting books that might not be possible to replace. Another day, another water-logged treasure to be found.
Although the waters were not released by me, it’s probably still my fault. Mana (the Polynesian spiritual concept of life energy) is both constructive and destructive. When you create a space, you invite mana. I created a home Tiki bar with a backstory about the survivors of a ship destroyed at sea, a coffin that floats, and endless waves of water. It makes perfect sense that the mana I invited manifests as both creative and destructive forms of water.
What happened? It’s the question I’ve been asked the most. The story I’d love to tell is imaginative. It’s akin to the tale you’ve heard while sitting in the dark in the Enchanted Tiki Room. It all starts innocently and sweetly. The birds are singing. You’re tapping your foot and admiring the colorful lights. Then, headhunter drums change the mood. You start to get a little anxious. The maniacal beats begin low and slow, but quickly the tempo whips into a fury, then the volcano erupts, and the rains pour down. When it’s all over, the Tikis come to life, smile, and sing songs.
That isn’t what happened at Queequeg’s Coffin, but I’d like to think it did. In reality, the volcano in my story was my upstairs neighbors’ hot water heater that burst. In my story, the rainstorm was the 100 gallons of water that poured through the rafters of my ceiling, destroying kitchen cabinets, walls, and whatever lay beneath.
One part of both stories is the same, though. The Tikis were laughing and singing the end. Yojo, my twelve-foot Tiki named after Queequeg’s pendant, stands tall and undamaged. My Tiki carvings, my black velvet paintings, my Tiki mugs and glassware, my Exotica LPs (with the exception of one Yma Sumac recording), and most of my travel paraphernalia were not damaged. I’m quite fortunate for that reason alone.
It will take time to rebuild Queequeg’s Coffin. Today, the warped kitchen cabinets were ripped out, and the soggy drywall was removed from the bathroom. Plastic sheeting has been hung to protect Yojo and my roadtrip treasures from next wave … a dust storm. But, I will rebuild.
Despite all kinds of mana found in Queequeg’s Coffin, I’m glad the Tiki gods are still smiling at me.