Okinawa Hai fallback


Welcome to the final episode of this PCS. Feel free to remain on the edge of your seat.

On Friday, we board a plane with Maltsby and head home via Tokyo and O’Hare. Apologies in advance to the United flight attendants and any of you that may be on our flight. We are a living, crying, gasping tornado of a family.

I have spent six years in Japan now and while it isn’t my home it has been a home. Here I met Joe, brought 7-month old Eli over to spend his first three years and had Henry Higgins. Here I feel safe to walk alone day or night. Here I am not inundated with choices about which deodorant or car or dress size will complete my life. Here I literally cannot understand most of what goes on around me. The words spoken and written are curiousities and not mandates about what to need or want. Here stores open at a casual 10am. Here customer service is an ancient art form. Here it is hot. Hotter than I knew I could handle. But did. Here is almost over for us. Here is mine for less than a week. Mostly I don’t let the leaving register. It’s both routine and devastating in one blow. Instead I plow through my to-do lists and lose my patience with the boys.

Magically, earlier this month our temporary storage was sent to the new house in Montclair. It seems there were a series of miscommunications and unknowingly, SURPRISE, I gave permission to have that stuff, stuff I haven’t seen in three years, stuff I wouldn’t recognize on the street, delivered to a house in which people are still living. Those people, the owners of the home, are kind and helpful people who cleared out their garage to make way for our stuff despite having their own PCS to orchestrate. I apologized and sent gifts and the woman of house sent me an e-mail with all the right tones of sun and flowers to cheer me up. She also said how she thought military wives should get chest candy (medals & ribbons), to wear to the balls. She suggested that there be a medal for each deployment between one and six months. Another for deployments over six months. A ribbon for every PCS done without a spouse. Another ribbon for ever pregnancy and birth that went down without a spouse. To her stroke of genius I’d like to add a big medal for each and every PCS that we go through no matter who is there or not there. This kind of upheaval can knock your socks off!

All in all our PCS has gone smoothly. Or maybe I just say that now because Joe is home and my sanity has been mostly restored. Our Unaccompanied Baggage was taken in less than twenty minutes leaving only body odor behind. The Household Goods were gone in under three hours leaving only bathroom and cooking potions behind. On a good tip, we took all of our glass and liquids to the Kadena Recycling Center along with an old water-logged shelf. A man in alligator shoes told with me with great calm and passion that it was their job to separate trash. With that I left him our bags of odds and ends and drove away unfettered. For those of you living off-base, get to know that place. Immediately.

As I looked through our empty house it was hard for me to remember why we chose it three years ago. The lay-out is no good for running, flailing children. The wood floors do not complement said children or dogs with claws. The shoji screens, well, that was just silly on our part. Maybe it was the itty-bitty yard. And maybe with just a seven-month old we couldn’t know what house we’d need as he grew. Heck, we didn’t even have Henry yet. And I wonder if in three years I will look at our next house empty and wonder the same thing. For now though the new house with the fenced yard and cul-de-sac and finished basement and proximity to Joe’s work and SPACE seems absolutely perfect for who we are today. As, I suppose, our Mizugama house was perfect for us three years ago. Three years is both a lifetime and a blink.

I started this blog because when I got to Okinawa I was lost. I was new to the military and motherhood. I did not know where I was, who I was or where to start. So I started here with the help of a few lovely people. Now we are a large group of lovely people. And you out there reading are lovely too! I cannot properly thank everyone for the enthusiasm and time and brilliance that has been put into this community. Each of you humble me with your willingness to lend a hand and embrace the wonderful-ness of Okinawa. This is a good thing and I am sad to leave. My wacky friend Staci will be taking over this category and shedding light on things much more pressing and exciting than my big PCS.

Thanks to each of you for making this island feel like grilled cheese, tomato soup and an episode of Friends. You comfort me.



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. You have made all military family members feel slightly normal as we all go through these trying times over and over again. I just wanted to mention that although female spouses don’t get “chest candy” to wear there is a company making ribbons for family members in the form of “blingy” bracelet links. While I don’t have one myself, I have seen many people on island with them. The website is

  2. After all this time, I still can’t believe we never got to meet in person! I will miss your entries on Oki Hai, you are so funny, and real, and honest…not too much of that anymore these days. Good luck on your new adventure and keep us posted! You’ll be missed!

  3. Thank you for creating this blog. You and other members have been a great help to me in begining to understand what my step-son and his family will be experiencing during their first oversea PCS. As I have memtioned in the past I have no military background. This site has been wonderful to me. My step-son & family arrive on Okinawa on July 18th. Again thank you.

  4. I’ve been sitting here with my hands poised on my keyboard for quite some time, but I don’t know what to say or how to say it. I guess I want to say I think you are special and you make all of us feel special. For me, your warmth and wit and smarts and talent have touched me all the way over here in Atlanta. You’ve spun a great big web of wonderful! Every happiness to you and your beautiful family and thank you for you! Love, Robin

  5. Thank you for everything you have done on this site. I’m sorry we didn’t have the chance to meet but like everyone else has said I feel like I’ve known you for years. Good luck with all future endevors and hope to hear how things go once you’re back in the states. You’re going to be missed.

  6. Please, please tell me you will be blogging somewhere. I’ve followed your words through Eli’s birth, your move to Okinawa, Henry’s surprise appearance, your island discoveries, Joe’s comings and goings, and now your move back to the States. I love your voice…mostly that it’s so damn real and always interesting. If you are writing, I want to be reading. Good luck on the big move!

  7. I want to pitch a hissy fit and shout no, no, no, this can’t be your last PCS post. It went by too fast. It makes me sad. But. I will be looking forward to hearing about your new experiences back in the states and how you make the transition so I can start mentally preparing myself for our move back (years from now).

  8. were you at the vet today with Maltsby? i saw a woman with a beautiful black/grey dog, a cute little boy, and an OkinawaHai totebag. i wanted to say something but i am shy. if it was you hello!

  9. You will be greatly missed as a contributor to our Oki sanity. Thank you for every thing you have done, you have helped more spouses feel welcomed here and more comfortable exploring this island we call home. Thanks for all you do! Take care!

  10. You probably will never know how many people you have touched
    I am still trying to ‘find my way’ on this island but you have helped my journey in a myriad of ways
    Good luck on the next leg
    (your boys are adorable btw)

  11. We’ve never met, and yet I feel like I know you. You have an amazing gift for writing…truly. Know that you’ve really done something wonderful here with the Oki Hai blog…it’s helped countless people here, on their way here, or with family here. Congratulations. YOU have made a difference (and not in a cliche kind of way). Good luck and I’m sure we’ll be keeping an eye on each other through the blogosphere… see you around.

  12. mere – please don’t say this is your last post. thank you for all that you’ve done for this community. i am so sad at the thought of you not being on this island anymore. i will miss you. we wish you all good things and hope to hear more of your future adventures.

  13. I will remain on the edge of my seat for part XXI: The move-in. I agree with the PPs. You really have made a difference here. Thank you for making it a better place.

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