I thought I had been invited to watch a Japanese tea ceremony at Henry’s daycare. That’s what I concluded after stringing together the five words his sensei said that I understood. And I was right except that when I arrived two petite elderly Japanese women scurried around trying to deal with my girth and one put-upon kimono. Ah! Tea AND kimono dress-up. If I had known how many pictures would be taken I would have plucked my eyebrows or brushed my hair. I definitely would have put on more deodorant.

You just never know. At least my hands look awesome.


Almost three years ago when we moved into our cozy house here in Mizugama we had one seven-month old Eli and no Henry yet. Eli didn’t walk or run or punch or throw yet. So when our housing agency showed us this place with the lovely rice paper windows, I fell ignorantly in love.

Because you just don’t really know what’s around the corner.


Before I had kids I probably had opinions about what I would feed my children (carob & wheat berries), how much television they would watch (electric company re-runs) and how I would discipline them (calmly). And while I value all the same stuff I know how hard it is to always be the ideal version of myself. I’m lucky if I’m ideal twice a day.

Sometimes you just make do with whatever you have to grab a minute to yourself or force a kid to stay in time-out.


I have no idea what lies in store for my family in Montclair, Virginia. I cannot wait to find out. In the meantime, I am turning into a hermit. I don’t say good-bye well and I feel the end of our Okinawan life sneaking up behind me. I’m eating junk, sleeping poorly and losing my patience more quickly than the kids deserve. So at the end of each day, like right now, I feel disappointed in myself. I could have been better today. I promise myself to be better tomorrow. And when I’m done beating myself up I wonder how we all pull this military life off. It’s tricky and sometimes downright unhealthy.

You just never know how you’ll pull it off. Or just how you’ll meet everyone’s basic needs especially your own. Well, until you look at your boys and see them fighting their own fight. And we’re all just fighting our own fight, aren’t we? So who cares if they ate gummies for dinner.

You just never really know how you’ll deal with any given day except that you do. Sometimes better than others.

Happy PCS to all of you in the thick of it. And glimmers of happiness to everyone else in the thick of other murky waters. Remember to brush your hair and pluck your eyebrows because you never know if today is the day someone is going to squeeze you into a kimono and prop you on a chair until you’ve sweat through each of the eight layers.



All the posts in Meredith’s “Me & My Big PCS” series: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX

For posterity’s sake we have left this universally euphoric, terrified, confused, “what am I doing?!” series on Okinawa Hai.  However, we have closed comments for future readers.  If there is relevant information for all readers to benefit from, we have taken elements from this series and created new posts, which we’ve linked to from the original text. Thank you for joining us on this ride.


  1. Meredith:
    I wish you every bit of peace and calm…
    every package delivered on time (yeah right) – and not to be sleeping on air mattresses for three weeks – I HATE PCSing!!!

    Good luck you amazing woman.

  2. Um, I also love you.

    I enjoyed this post. I laughed very much. I miss the laughs we share most when I’m away. Nobody finds me funny like you find me funny. This post is not just a list of things that happened, but a chronicling of our rise…TO POWER!

    Also, you look hot in that Kimono. Grrr!

  3. Meredith, I’m with Aviva – I love you, too!! That just goes to show you, you don’t ever have to lay eyes on a person or hear their actual voice. Sometimes words alone on a glowing computer monitor from halfway across our planet tell you all you really need to know about a person. You make me laugh and cry and care and think. Thank you for reaching out. I’m so sad I won’t quite be on Okinawa in time to meet you, but know I’m thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers and awaiting your creative accounts of adventures to come.
    Love, Robin

  4. la la la la la

    is someone leaving? i can’t hear you.


    your spoon in the door will go down as one of the best jerry-rigs in history. the boys are in one piece, and the best thing you can do is keep yourself in one piece as well. i love you, mere.

  5. Mishka,

    I called housing after the first puncture wound to our shoji screens. She said we’d have to replace them and that one wound or forty wounds the whole thing needs to be done over. I have heard from people that it is easy to do by yourself. I also heard the housing agent say it was about 5000 yen per screen. At this point I think I’d rather pay than try to figure it out. But I’m not crafty or patient.

    Anyone wanting to learn can have a go at our screens!

  6. So, just out of curiousity, do you plan to try to fix your shoji screens or are you just planning to pay for them…

    I loved your words…so perfect for this time.

  7. Gearing up for a state side move. Your words could not have rang clearer for my current mind frame. How do we pull it off? I’m beginning to wonder how I managed the past 15 years.

    Best of luck! You’re going to love Virginia.

  8. “I know how hard it is to always be the ideal version of myself.”

    Needed that today — thanks. 🙂

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