Okinawa Hai fallback


It turns out we will be leaving Okinawa. We won’t be able to go AND stay after all. There is still no specific place we are going but we will be going there sometime in the beginning of July. That means I’ll make it home for a wedding and a baby. For that I am happy. And for the three months that remain for us on Okinawa, I am also happy.

The monitor mentioned Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as a possibility even though there is already someone set to take that billet. Someone who is not Joe. The remote chance of living there is the most that I have and, sigh, imagining something is easier than imagining nothing.

Pennsylvania is familiar. Joe was born and raised in the Keystone state. We celebrated our marriage in McVeytown. My brother went to school in State College. Eli was born in Wilkes-Barre. And mountains roll gently and generously through four distinct seasons there. I like me some mountains. It’s not home but it may be the closest thing I have.

Harrisburg offers three things that Okinawa does not.

  1. Family within an arm’s reach which is joyous sprinkled with scary
  2. The possibility of a bigger house with land for the boy-kind to unleash their boy-ness
  3. A church that, I think, suits us

I try not to make mental lists of all the things I will be leaving behind. I try not to admit that Eli will probably never go to Japanese school again or remember the one he did go to. I try not to imagine all the good-byes I will have to say and those I will eventually just avoid. I try not to wish I had done more. I am really trying to just be here and be sane. That’s a tall enough order.

Yesterday, I got a touching e-mail from a reader who moved to Okinawa with her family in 1972. Her words dealt me a good dose of sanity and serenity and appreciation for this island life.

I was brought up with art and furnishings from my parents’ time in Japan. My mother even peppered her conversation with Japanese phrases like “chotto” and “gomen” and “suteki”.  When we arrived on Okinawa in 1972, the island had just been returned to the Japanese and we could have stayed forever. We loved Okinawa from the time we arrived, living in Awase for a few months before we moved to quarters on Futenma. My sister and I were amazed at how small the kitchen appliances were and how enormous the tiled bathtub (the first place I shaved my legs) was – that was before the advent of a garden tub in every new house. We looked at every new experience as a wonderful adventure, even the quonset huts we went to classes in at Pacific Middle before I went to Kubasaki and the water rationing and typhoons. My worry wart mother even felt comfortable letting my sister and I explore. Somehow there, she knew we’d be fine. We loved to go off post and into the bank to exchange our allowance for yen and then shop all day in the little bookstores for pencil boxes and scented erasers and trinkets. We’d take a bus to tennis lessons and to candy striper duties at the hospital at Camp Kuwae. I worked in pediatrics and some of my duties included swabbing throats for strep cultures and taking temperatures and running things to the lab – and I was all of maybe 14 or 15 years old! Can you imagine?

I can’t imagine that. But then I also cannot remember where or when I first shaved my legs! That’s why I blog, so that I don’t have to remember. I just have to look back from time to time to fill in the blanks.

Speaking of the blog, y’all. I love what we have built and it crushes me to walk away. It will carry on with new faces and transform itself into bigger and better-ness. I just wish I could be a part of the team. Will I survive without the blog?

Geesh. Stepping out of the darkness.

We have a new logo that will be on all the merchandise we make. Merchandise that was far more expensive than I expected. Merchandise that will not be debuted this evening due to its state of expensive-hood. But the logo, three cheers for Aviva!


The kanji in the seal is for OKI of OKInawa. It’s an old rendering of the character OKI. You see the modern version every day on your license plate. Kaho told me that Oki means, “that place in the middle of the ocean”. She asked me what the word for that was in English. Um, the middle of the ocean?

So that’s us. Oki. In the middle of the ocean.

Come aboard, we’re expecting you.


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. So glad you like the logo. We have been busy elves making and thinking about what to put out there for you.

    Mishka, as far as window clings, which I agree would be super, they are not a product offered by CafePress. It’s a much better alternative to a bumper sticker BUT for the sake of not spending money that we don’t have we aren’t going to in the window cling direction. Gomene!

    Chun, There is a shirt just for you. Thanks for supporting the Hai Tribe.

    We do have a few products in our “virtual” store now. The link is below the poll in the right sidebar. What do you think? Anything you wanted to see that isn’t there?

    Speak up! We aim to please.

  2. Aviva, will definitely be picking your brains for all of the good places to go. I may change my mind after getting there but after being overseas just being Stateside seems really close to family even though most of them are on the East Coast. I guess it’s all relative!

  3. Great logo! Am I missing something but I can’t find a men’s t shirt option. Granted I would look good in a fitted raglan…

  4. loving the logo
    smells of crimson, salty sea
    deeper than island

    Want to start wearing stuff! Really love it.

  5. My eyes welled up with tears at the thought of ALL the goodbyes we’ll all be saying this summer…
    On a brighter note, the new logo is fantastic! Looking forward to seeing it everywhere.

  6. Love the logo….oh, and I wanted to vote on the type of merchandise but my favorite wasn’t listed….I love static cling window stickers…no adhesive, and easy to move.

  7. wow, Daniela – I so completely “hear” you! Unfortunately your case is the same as 2 others I know right now. And if my hubby had been promoted this past December we would’ve been short-toured most likely and I would’ve been devastated. What a conflicting feeling to have – I want what’s best for hubby’s career & our family, but I love what is happening right NOW.

    Mere – you’re not walking away and you’re not being without the blog! For months and hopefully more after your return you’re going to grace us with your wise, funny, heart-breaking and exhilarating words about transitioning back to mainland life. It’s out there for all of us at some point. Almost all, anyway. And this amazing forum that touches those who are still months away from coming here and those who are years away from having lived here in the past are lucky enough that now we live in Web 2.0 society – a quick click, a look at pictures, a video web chat and a Vonage phone call bring you half a world closer. Thank goodness.

    (Julia – I hope it’s San Diego for you! I’m SO here to give you the lists and lists of goodness there!!! But I think a 3000 mile flight to family is a bit far for Meredith at this point, I know it was for me, though I’d go back in a heartbeat.)

  8. I understand how you feel:
    not the “L” word. My husband is trying to change jobs and that would mean….leaving!
    There is no way I can wrap my mind around it. There is no certainty we will, but for just in case, I tried to go there;
    Not now, I tell him.
    We just moved into this beautiful house by the beach.
    I just gave up fighting to be part of life in the U.S.
    I don’t care anymore when I watch the evening news.
    I feel sorry for the poor souls over there that have never seen or experienced Okinawa.
    Oki is home now. A home you will have to drag me off of, kicking and screaming.
    I have been Okinawanized.
    In about 2 weeks we will know more; there is a test to take. A test part of me hopes he does not pass when the other part wants the best for my husband.
    There are always bigger and better places ahead I tell myself. New adventures, new places to explore, new opportunities, but it seems that part of me will always be here on “this place in the ocean”.
    I feel you!

  9. I totally understand how you feel about walking away from something you have created. I started a playgroup here in Las Vegas and it has grown into a wonderful support group for both the kids and the Mom’s. It is so much a part of my daily life and it kills me to hand it over and move on. *We are not on the Island yet – we arrive the end of May.*
    Thank you so much Meredith for this blog and what is has become. This blog has eased my fears and answered questions that I didn’t even realize I had. Okinawa Hai has given me so many ideas to fill my time once we arrive on the Island. I have a long list and places to see and things to do that should last me awhile!
    Oh and I love the logo!

  10. Love the new logo and knowing what Oki means! It sounds so poetic and serene. I was about to write a haiku but I’ll leave that to someone else with more experience. 🙂

    Meredith, if only we could start making our plans to pack out between you knowing when and me knowing where! How about San Diego for you too? It’s nice and sunny there!

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