CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO
Last July, my mother flew to Okinawa to hold my hand through Henry’s newborn days. Meals were prepared. Messes were cleaned. Laundry folded. Diapers changed. Pep talks given. Sleep granted.
It was magical.
But it was even more magical for Maltsby, our dog. My mother walks in a serious fashion. Like for hours. And Maltsby had the pleasure of joining her. His allegiance and love quickly shifted to her. Fickle beast.
One day she had been gone for two hours and it occurred to me that she did not have my address, my phone number, money or a cell phone. And it was hot. And much time had passed. So I nursed and cleaned spit-up and attended to the rigors of newborn life. I probably worried for a minute or two.
So, yes, AT LONG LAST, she returned unharmed and sweaty with a hand-drawn map from a Japanese policeman. She had gotten lost because Route 30 never led her back to my house as she had planned.
Because there is no Route 30. Because that sign she followed is a speed limit.
Every one of those signs reminds me how out of sorts and illiterate and foreign and upside down life can be here or anywhere new. And how it all ends and everywhere becomes home eventually.
This July brings me to almost two years on Okinawa and I’m finally at home here. Not forever, but for now.