I noticed on the local message boards that there was a series of six hula classes being given at the Caspar Community Center at 4:00 on Thursday. I checked my schedule and decided that I could get there in time – Caspar is the next town south from the Big Town where I work, so it’s on the way home – and off I went in the darkening evening.

Arriving at the community center, I found the three teachers, who are all native Hawaiians, a few kids, and about 10 other grown-ups. Clearly, I was the only one coming from work, and I felt a bit silly in my faux adult attire, especially since everyone else was wearing pretty skirts. Not to worry, though. One of the teachers wrapped me in a colorful batik scarf. I took off my shoes, and we all stood in a circle holding hands. Pretty much everyone but me knew the chants that followed, but I just listened with my eyes closed, feeling my feet grounded and the warm presence of the other dancers as they praised their higher power and asked for guidance.

We started by learning a dance about shells. The kids joined in this one. I was interested to learn that every gesture has a meaning: shell; shore; island; flower; ocean, etc. Before starting the second dance, we learned some history about its origins and the place it was written so we could understand the story we were telling. I loved learning all the history. The dancing is harder than you would think by looking at it, but I did the best I could, with the encouragement of the teachers and the other dancers. I really enjoyed it, and it gave me the gift of really being in the moment.

At the end, we did the circle again, and I felt enfolded in the warmth of my sister dancers and the stories we had told together. I am looking forward to the next classes.

A YEAR AGO: The 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Thank you to all who served and continue to serve.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Attempting to run errands in San Francisco, with varying degrees of success.

TEN YEARS AGO: Feeling like Sanford & Son.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A cold. And a piano.

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