Okinawa Hai fallback


I killed a cat in Hawaii. Not with my own hands per se. He was slumbering peacefully under a parked car on the side of a busy street. The sun was setting; I was walking. My walking startled him and he jutted out from under the car, into the road and onto the grill of a truck. There was a remarkable display of projection and twisting before he finished life on the other side of the road. I was horrified and nauseous but mostly paralyzed. I had no idea what to do. Should I knock on doors and confess my crime?  Should I, gulp, see if he was still alive? Should I chase down the run-away truck?

I did nothing except walk back to Joe’s apartment that he was sharing with two other Marines. When I got back those other two boys were the only ones there. Because of the cat’s demise, because Joe wasn’t home, because I had just left Tokyo and had no blooming idea what I was about to do in life or love, I started to cry. Yup. That was awkward.

The next day I forced Joe to re-live the murder with me. I needed to figure out exactly where he landed. It mattered to me. I don’t think I expected the cat to be there but maybe I thought if he was that I could do something better than walk away this time. I thought I found the spot but Joe assured me that he had found the spot. And he was right because a few feet away from where we stood was a bucket with a placard sticking out of it. In the bucket there was a pet brush, kitty niblets and a collar. On the placard was a double-sided laminated tribute to an orange tabby cat complete with pictures of him in front of the Christmas tree, chasing string with the kids and snoozing in a sunbeam. Above the pictures it said: Tigger Kobayashi killed on Keolu Drive.

Right now I feel like I did when I found out that cat had a name. Like I didn’t know if I was coming or going. Crying or laughing. Numb or broken. But more literally this time. Like am I staying in Okinawa or leaving for some unknown place? Either way feels like something dies a little. And thus I keep coming back to Tigger Kobayashi who died more than just a little.

So I play both hands these days. The staying hand and the going hand.

In the going hand we have Eli’s school that finished for the year.


I cried, of course.

I have not signed him up for anything new because we are leaving. Eli and I spent our first day alone together today and I wrapped my mind around how to get life and exercise done with him. And I can do it for a few months, no sweat. Because we are leaving soon.

In the staying hand I jump headlong into planning a line of merchandise for Okinawa hai! I have time for this because we are staying. I will have years with this gang. The women on this ship are funny, friends. They have come up with slogans to adorn your bumpers, shirts and thongs. Genius stuff like:

hai society
hai & tight
living the hai life
your hai-ness
it’s hai time
hai y’all doin’?

I don’t want to leave this party which works out because somehow I plan to pull off staying AND going.

I will be the pioneer, mark my words.


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. What a special treat to hear from you, Robin! My boys are too young to remember Okinawa and that crushes me a bit. Such a wonderful place to have memories of. How cool that you can find something to enjoy from afar! That means a lot to hear! Thanks so much for reaching out from across the world!

  2. Maybe it’s just hormones but you guys are going to make me cry. Like Robin I think I will be living vicariously through you all when I’m long gone and packed up to the States. I already missed it after the first time I left almost 7 years ago. Back then I didn’t have kids and kept mostly to myself. I barely explored the island and I had NO clue about Cocok’s! It kills me that I could have easily had 10 pedicures every day back then and now I have to struggle to find the free time for one every few months! And I still missed Oki.

    This time around has been so special for so many reasons. We’ve made wonderful friends and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing our kids grow up together. Well, they’re only 3 and almost 2 but still. They’ll be too young to remember their time here but I will and I will miss it terribly. I’m tearing up just thinking about leaving.

    When you figure out the secret of staying and going Meredith, let me know! Otherwise I’ll just have to make sure to check in with you guys to get hai daily!

  3. Robin-
    I’m so glad to hear that after all these years Okinawa is still special in your heart! That is one of the reasons we chose to extend. The kids are 6 & 2. The 6 year old will remember that he didn’t like the Japanese (he is getting better, but the ones that don’t speak english to him still scare him) and the 2 year old would remember nothing! With the extension they will be 10 & 6 when we leave. This way the oldest will remember so much more and hopefully the youngest will be able to take some of it away with her! If not she will have her bubba’s stories and the millions of pictures to help!! I hope our kids learn to cherish like you did!

  4. Hi Meredith, I am a 47 year old army brat who has been on an incredible and inexplicable virtual journey back to Okinawa after having been away 33 years, lived there 3 years and left after my freshman year at Kubasaki for Alabama. Most importantly, I am the world’s most avid blurker on Okinawa Hai and am living vicariously through y’all and would purchase merchandise in a heartbeat. I think you all are the wittiest and most clever women and I just adore reading about your impressions of Okinawa today and about your adventures on the island. Okinawa was just the most magical place in the world. I hope some of you have children old enough to remember it forever. The place in my heart for Okinawa has remained all these many years.

  5. Kelly, just have to mention that you may not be so fond of the thong for the next few months… 🙁 I pretty much put allll of mine aside for a bit after the whole “things”-stretched- to-porportions-that- seem-impossible experience… it’s one of those things to work up to again… kinda like loosing the 20 leftover pounds… slow & steady… 🙂

    No baby??

  6. Can’t stand the not knowing part (I’m a big planner) but it seems to be such a big part of military life (that drives me wildly insane). I hope you get out of limbo soon.

  7. Some thoughts: Maybe OkiHai should do some merchandise with Tigger Kobayashi on it. Saluting a life of coming and going.

    What’s with the measly 11% for the thong? Come on thong wearers, show your thong love.

    I loved your anecdote here. I admit I did a kind of had a sad/guilty snort-laugh as I read it.

    I hope your “me & my big PCS” posts continue on and on into roman numerals I don’t know how to read any more.

  8. A Pioneer Recipe for you: Corn Fritters

    Another pioneer recipe pioneers used with corn is corn fritters. This is how you can make this delicious dish.


    1 package of Corn – Kits
    ½ cup of self – rising flour
    2 eggs
    ¼ cup of milk
    1 cup of cream style corn

    First empty contents of Corn – Kits into a medium size bowl, add ½ cup of self – rising flour and mix well. Separate 2 eggs, beat the yolks well, add ¼ cup of milk and 1 cup of cream style corn.

    Stir the corn meal mixture until well moistened. Fry by tablespoon size drops into deep fat heated at 365° F until golden brown and cooked throughout.

  9. Whew. Man, I’m so relieved that you’ve decided to stay and go. Would hate to loose you or have the “somewhere else” have to survive without knowing you.

  10. Meredith,
    You jest a bit w/ your pioneer comment but it’s funny – I do think you are a bit of a pioneer…in this blogosphere, in courage and strength. You have that whole pioneer thing going for ya and you wear it well. 🙂
    Thanks again for letting us ride this out with you.

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