With seven billion people in the world I should have guessed that one would be a hula fairy, but who knew I would be fortunate enough to fall under her spell beneath the thatched chaconne at Mirlitone?
Any adjective short of a superlative fails to describe Carissa Caricato. She is tall, blonde, gregarious, charming, effervescent, frivolous, fabulous, utterly useless, and utterly lovely. Every moment in her presence is electrified by the alternating current that she adds no measurable value to the world and yet she makes the world an immeasurably better place.
Carissa runs a non-profit called Hoola for Happiness, a group that makes hula hoops and distributes them to third world outposts like Haiti, Nicaragua and India, to spread joy and a bit of Gospel. The hoops come in five attachable pieces for easy transport, each an Olympic color. Carissa’s web site hawks them for $30 a pop, and she travels the world distributing them to poor children. When Carissa fixes you in her gaze and describes hula hoops as the communication bridge between cultures you weigh the possibility. She gets me to try one; I am all bones and no swagger. But when she steps into a hoop and gently sways to and fro, when she sends an Olympic swirl around her waist and hips, adds another around her neck and arms, and a third along an outstretched leg, you become convinced of her enlightened form of communication. The hoops shiver up and down her body, unburdened by gravity. She is innocent as Sesame Street, enticing as Salome.
Carissa arrives at the MoHI construction site mid-morning with a gaggle of hula hoops over her arm. She knows that what a tight construction site with 50 laborers and piles of aggregate and sharp rebar cutters and a concrete mixer all running full gear needs even more than 300 school children (which we already have) is to have those children gyrating in hula hoops. Within moments of arriving the site is a jumble of lithe black bodies in tan school uniforms enraptured in hula frenzy. The girls are good, the boys are amazing. I discover a new force field in the world, about thirty inches off the ground, where hula hoops find equilibrium; the children can spin them forever.
Carissa departs as quickly as she arrives and the hoops vanish. One or two break and the occasional segment of green or red gets kicked into a corner of the site. Carissa does not bring anything as rudimentary are food or clothing, or buildings to Haiti. She brings shards of colorful plastic and she brings joy. She brings joy in such abundance that even after she is gone it lingers on the breeze. The children return to their studies, the crew returns to our construction, each of us better for the fairy who anointed us with her circles and her spirit.