When we first moved to Japan, it felt like we were on a vacation that was lasting a bit too long, and I was ready to head back home. It took 6 long months, but Okinawa really then became my home. I remember the day I actually decided to start embracing this place. I was in my car driving (as I usually am when I get great and inspirational ideas ;) and I realized that this wasn't my first move and it probably wouldn't be my last. So, I could either spend my life constantly missing the last place I lived, or I could actually enjoy the place that I was living in now.
And hey, maybe things didn't always turn out the way we expected them to, maybe we didn't always have the career we wanted originally or the dream job. But maybe God took us out of our comfort zone and put us in situations where we tried new things, met new people, or learned something new about ourselves & Him (and the world He created).
I couldn't imagine doing this with anyone else. Matt and I really grew up together through this journey. We spent the bulk of our twenties living away from family in California and Japan. And while our twenties aren't quite finished yet, I can honestly say they were some of the best twenties that anyone could ever ask for! We spent the past four years finding our way together in a foreign country - 12 foreign countries actually - and if we can do that together, I know we can do anything. Some people look back and say that college or high school were the best times of their lives. I have no doubt that I will look back at these four years as the greatest time in my life. We really learned how to LIVE while living there.
After seeing so many people come and go, it is finally our turn to leave Okinawa behind. This makes me sad, because it isn't just the end of the line for us in Okinawa, it's the end of the line for us in the Marine Corps as well, which, as anyone in the military will tell you, isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle. A lifestyle you become completely immersed in. Especially overseas, where the only Americans you are exposed to are affiliated with the military in some way. Thinking about it now, I'm realizing that I will never again stop my car and put my flashers on during evening colors. I will never again sing the National Anthem in the theater before seeing a movie. I will never again have to give Matt's last four when asked for "my" social. And I will never again get to see my husband leave for work in camis & boots.
Yes, I'm a little anxious about our new life. As much as I am excited for Austin, I'm scared of change and of losing the life we had in Oki. We've really had an amazing life so far, and I don't want to let that go. But one thing I've learned - if you make something a priority, it happens. We know many people in Okinawa who wanted to travel but never did. That wasn't us. Travel was important to us, and we took full advantage of it, and I am confident we will continue to do so in the future. For us, Okinawa was a journey - A journey that shows you new things about each other and yourself, how you handle stress, change, being uprooted, good times and hard times. A journey that takes you places you never thought you'd go and teaches you things about the world you never thought you'd learn. And we are so grateful for that.
Our time on Okinawa may be finished, but the island will still miraculously go on without us - it's just the beginning for so many other (incredibly lucky) military families who are just starting their journey. And it will continue to have that turquoise blue water, that delicious food, those sweet Okinawan people, and the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. And I will miss it every day. I truly hope we left our mark on Okinawa, because it sure left a mark on us and will always have a piece of our hearts.
And as my good friend Amanda once told me...
...I'm still working on this one;)
A big thank you for all who have followed us on our incredible journey over the past 4 years - you helped me keep going when I wasn't particularly inspired. Your love & support means more than you know:)
'Till next time...