CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO
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 & tight
living the hai life
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.
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.