CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO
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.
- Family within an arm’s reach which is joyous sprinkled with scary
- The possibility of a bigger house with land for the boy-kind to unleash their boy-ness
- 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.
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.