CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO
I so wish I had thought of this question myself. I did not. It came from a woman who hasn’t arrived in Okinawa yet. But don’t you wish you could have asked this before getting here. Yes, yes, you wished that. I know that on-base folks face the same question so join the conversation with your own spin.
I’ll take a stab at it.
I was very lonely for many, many months in my off-base house. I gazed longingly at women everywhere from the commissary to the sidewalks summing up our compatibility and wondering just how to start up a conversation. You like bananas? Me too! It was much like dating. Or junior high school. The painful parts.
After a good bit of sulking, I set aside the emotions and made a project of getting a life. I decided that my days would revolve around Eli (Henry was in utero) and getting exercise. I figured that if I put my energy in those directions I would connect with women I could relate to. I scoured all the print publications. Okinawa Living. Venture. Stars & Stripes. Japan Update. I went to Baby & Me on Foster which is a playgroup for mothers with babies under a year. I went to Lapsit which I loved and Eli hated. I went to my husband’s work events. I chatted with strangers. I went to the Thursday Okinawa Playgroup on Kadena. I volunteered at the Children’s Waiting Room. I smiled and just hoped that someone would like me in line, on the playground or at the vending machine. I had assumed I was a fairly likable girl. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Also I was freshly pregnant with Henry and nauseous and dramatic. DRAMATIC.
I whimpered a lot at night and then got back on my horse in the morning. And finally I connected and bonded and found a home here. And I love my lady friends. Perhaps all y’all that live on-base had a similar experience. From the other side of the fence, it seems like connecting happens more naturally with the whole neighborhood, same boat situation. Or that it happens more readily than off-base.
We all set our priorities when we get here or anywhere new. Military life. Church. Career. Friends. Exercise. Motherhood. Travel. Saving money. Interior design. Volunteering. Next time, I’m going to have be firm and clear about my priorities and have more faith that my people are out there even if it takes seven months to meet them.
This has been my maiden voyage with the military so this is all probably very been there, done that to most of you all.
Or not. What’s your story?