Okinawa or Bust

It’s time.  Finally.  After an interminably long month, we’ve reached its end.  We’ve sold our vehicles, cleaned our rental unit, changed our mailing address, alerted those with a need to know of our travel plans, and have left most of our material possessions behind.  We’ve said our goodbyes–to family and friends, to San Diego, and to Blue.  All we need to do now is to physically leave.

Our family’s journey seems as if it is ending, when it is just beginning.  I’m looking forward to being exposed to different cultures, different languages, and different people. In the past, leisure travel around the world has left me reinvigorated, but exhausted, as a result of the steep learning curve required of navigating new places in a new language.  I’ve missed that unique honest mental exhaustion at the end of the day and am looking forward to embracing living outside of my comfort zone once again.  After all, that is when I’m forced to take chances, encouraged to push boundaries, and free to reinvent myself.

I have no idea what awaits us.  But I take great comfort in my ignorance.  Before I moved to Cayman I envisioned my new life as calm, comfortable and contented.  My actual time in Cayman can be characterized most accurately as a period of intense emotional, spiritual and experiential growth.   Indeed, my life in Cayman had more beautiful moments than one has a right to expect in a lifetime.  Yet many of my days were dark, marked only by the deepest sense of hopelessness.

Today, I walk hand-in-hand with my Husband toward the unknown.  We go forward, blissful in our ignorance, armed with knowledge that we will be able to comfort and care for one another regardless of circumstance or condition.  My hope is that I will be too busy to write in this space.  But even if that were so, I would still need to write about how this experience has broadened my thought process, taught me new lessons, and changed me for the better.  Can’t wait to share.


Wining Once Again.

I thought we were ahead of the curve at midday.

That was until we hit a two-hour roadblock whilst attempting to upgrade our vehicle at the San Diego Airport.  The good news is that we are now driving a Nissan Armada.  The bad news is that the delay had a knock-on effect on the remainder of our day.  And now, late into the evening, we remain packing and re-packing to ensure the weight of any one of our pieces doesn’t exceed 70 pounds.

As a good friend once explained, “There are times in life when its advisable to just drink through it.”


Moving On

We have moved one step closer to our departure.  Yesterday, we checked in at the Miramar Inn at MCAS Miramar.  The staff is friendly, the room clean and the air conditioning cold.  Good or bad, this the is the most time I’ve spent on base–any base.  I consider our stay a primer for what’s likely next to come.

We have downsized our living space to a one bedroom suite.  I’m surrounded by two sea bags, one large purple laundry bag, two carry on bags, a stroller, a box full of toys and a small Tumi suitcase.  Our two pieces of large luggage and two small bags sit in the bedroom, along with [S]’s Pack n’ Play, and the front closet hosts a heavy garment bag, boots, and more toys.  Yes, we continue to downsize in spite of our circumstances.  But to transport our luggage to LAX, we will have to upgrade from a standard SUV to a Suburban or Escalade later today, regardless.

As each remaining day passes, we find ourselves with less on our to do list and more time to enjoy our final days in SoCal.  Finally.


The Ache of Friendship

In five days, our family will be on plane to the other side of the world.  Our time living in Japan certainly will be an adventure.  (If it isn’t, we are not doing it correctly.)   I’m excited and am becoming more prepared with each passing day.  I read the Ryukyu Shimpo, search for information on the Island’s culture, and meditate on the virtues of going with the flow.  Mentally, I’m ready to leave; emotionally, I’m not.

I have said goodbye to my family several times, as my Father reminded me recently.  But I’ve yet to say goodbye to my friends.  I keep them abreast of our plans–dates, times, and flights–to be sure.  They know we are leaving at the end of the month.  Indeed, a good friend of mine wrote, “I can’t believe you only have seven days left . . . ”  Initially, I was unclear as to what deadline she was referring.  Then I understood.  She continued, “I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for your leaving.”  My heart ached as I read her words.  But I understood.  After all, I am doing the same.

It’s challenging to write a piece about friendship without using tired cliches about love, acceptance and growth, precisely because friendship demands love, acceptance and growth.  What makes this move difficult is that I’ve left my friends before.  Nearly eight years ago, I said goodbye to my friends, hopped on a plane and arrived in Grand Cayman.  That was supposed to be my happily ever after, riding into the Caribbean sunset with my Prince Charming .  But it wasn’t.  When the bloom was off the rose, I leaned on my friends.  And I did so heavily.  They called.  They listened.  They understood.  They visited.  They worried.  And they rejoiced when I returned to the States.

While I cannot help but feel as if my years in Cayman were a necessary precursor to my future years in Okinawa, I’m struggling saying goodbye to my friends, yet again.  It hasn’t helped that I haven’t seen many of them in years.  Or that we communicate with one another on a daily basis.  These women who enrich my life with vivid adventures, candid honesty, and tough love, get me, for better or worse.  And I get them.  I cannot imagine my life without their active and reassuring presence.  At once, they make me stronger and softer.  They encourage me to be more empathetic and more understanding.  They ground me, while encouraging me to fulfill my dreams.  They make me whole.  And they make me a better person.

Yesterday, I spoke with a close friend who gave me wise counsel.  Towards the end of our conversation I asked, “What am I going to do without you?”  “Kimberly,” she replied, “you will never be without me.”

Thank you, Friend.

The Confederate Flag: A Meaningless Debate

To be clear, I am a proponent of eradicating the Confederate flag from public places and public spaces.  It doesn’t take a degree in vexillology to understand that flags are symbolic representations of places, people or things, whether historic or modern.  No one is debating whether hate groups in America–particularly anti-anyone-other-than-white-Christians–have taken comfort by wrapping themselves in the historical significance of the Confederate flag.  No one.

Those who argue that the Confederate flag is part of their history are correct.  Indeed, the Confederate flag is part of every American’s history.  But the Confederate states lost that war–a fact that remains troubling to some.  My first job out of law school was at a well-respected good-sized firm in Richmond, Virginia.  I struggled living in Richmond for many reasons, not the least of which was because I was reminded it was the capital of the Confederacy on a daily basis.  Indeed, attorneys at the firm proudly hung the Confederate flag in their offices next to their framed law school diplomas.  For a young Asian attorney–one of only a handful of non-white professionals–the patent symbolism was discomfiting, unnerving and startling.  Then–as now–I cannot understand why anyone would embrace the Confederate flag.

Media coverage over the presence of the Confederate flag in Charleston, South Carolina, is constant and as in-depth as the topic allows, befitting the debate of more meaningful, more serious and more complex issues facing our country.  Perhaps I’m daft, but I cannot understand the attention this issue is getting.  Nine people were shot and killed and our country focuses on the presence of the Confederate flag.  Perhaps the abundance of coverage is a result of reporter fatigue from covering such shootings.  Or perhaps it is because journalists understand the futility of reporting on potential gun control legislation after a mass killing.  Indeed, if the shooting of 20 elementary school children couldn’t mobilize our government to pass reasonable gun control laws with urgency, it is unlikely anything will.

The irony is that a flag–Confederate or otherwise–never killed anyone.