Dum, dum, dum. I hear the beating of the drums, the Eisa cries, and whistling in the distance. Sweat trickles down my back as I pull a purple fan with sakura out of my obi. I tuck my side-swept bangs back in their place as I sip an ice cold Orion beer. I see my friends next to me dressed in their yukata as we wait in line for overpriced matsuri food, smelling delicious yakisoba and yakitori. Even though Okinawa’s humid summer always got the better of us, it never stopped us from dressing up. When I close my eyes, I hear Shimanchu no Takara by BEGIN as everyone gets up to dance and sing. These are my beautiful memories of Okinawa, Japan.
Seven months have passed since the day I left, and I have finally begun remembering all the things I loved about my old home in the middle of the Pacific. When I left, I was broken, sad, worn out. Sad because I was leaving a place I called home for three years. Broken and worn out because my self-esteem took a deep plummet to the bottom and I was tired of the culture.
The day I left, I sat at Naha Airport’s International terminal looking at the plane docked, I saw the ocean. It was super sunny and the ocean was a vibrant, stellar, sapphire. It was bitter-sweet as I ugly cried on the plane to Taipei knowing it was all over and it may be a long time or never I would see Okinawa again.
While I lived in Japan, I became a very bitter expat. I let Japan get the better of me, forgetting to embrace all the things I liked. Although I will still never get over how bad of drivers Okinawans are and how much I hate the perfected bureaucracy, but I digress. When the plane soared above the island, I left my heart in the ocean the sun set on fire when it set every evening on a clear day. I said goodbye to Okinawa and set my sights on my homeland.
Thinking back on Okinawa, I miss:
For those of you that don’t know I loved the cherry blossoms that bloomed in January. I liked the dark, pink buds that glowed stunningly against the sometimes grey skies.
I loved the Tanabata festivals during July. I liked making wishes on the trees and hearing the story of the lovers separated by a universe apart. It was a hopeful and happy time.
My former and favorite trolling grounds, sitting on the Blue Seal balcony overlooking the Ferris Wheel was one of my favorite things to do. I loved taking purikura (sticker pictures), the SEGA Arcade, and I spent too much money at Bollywood Dreams eating their mango curry.
My old hometown, it was one of the prettiest places in Okinawa. Now that I speak to a lot of my friends, I’ve come to find it was one of their favorite places too. Lucky me, I lived on a fairytale cape where the ocean meets the lighthouse. I loved my old school, my kids and my co-workers.
No matter where I go, I will always take a piece of Okinawa’s precious music with me. I loved laughing with my teacher who was absolutely hilarious. His sense of humor was awesome. As he is older, he could speak Uchinaguchi, the indigenous language of Okinawa. I will carry his music lessons in my heart.
Need I say more?
Of course, long after I’m done writing this post, I’m sure I’ll have more things I miss, but these are the ones I miss the most. Okinawa has turned me into a beach and ocean snob. As I travel the world, I am beginning to realize the ocean there was the most beautiful ocean I’ve ever set eyes on. Nothing compares to the clarity and stunning colors. Not even the lovely ocean colors of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. Are there any places you’ve left part of your heart?
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