I’m lying in the hammock in the yard at our rental house, listening to birds, and insects, and also Martin and the kids move around inside. Its been ten months since we moved to Costa Rica from Utah, USA. Its been so interesting, so different from anything I could have predicted.
I *thought* after years of slaving away to get here, life would be ideal. I thought there would be a huge relief of having escaped the crazy life, and each day would be living in Eden…gardening, spending time with the kids, making art, making love.
The most surprising thing about this experience for me, has been the rekindling of connection with my inner world. I had no idea how disconnected I had become in the fast-paced mania that was my prior life.
This inner work has been sponsored by the new experience of a foreign land where the pace allows ample time for self reflection; but it is also coinciding with the developmental epoch when I am leaving my youth and entering the second half of my life here on earth. And I cannot underestimate the fact that I have been dealing with an extreme case of adrenal fatigue, exhaustion and thyroid issues which have consequently created a physiological whole-body depression.
But all this means I have spent much of the past ten months lounging in bed or the hammock staring at the sky. I lie here recalling all sorts of nostalgic memories….filled with grief of lost loved ones and my home country, sweet and happy events, pride for being brave and going for what I believed in, and making amends with myself for all the ways I’ve failed myself and the people I love.
For some, strange reason, and for the very first time in my life, I am not scheming and dreaming of what I am going to create next. I feel spent and don’t seem to have the energy to whip myself into an enthusiastic frenzy about all the possibilities. This place could be a blank canvas to create anything I desire. But somehow, all I want to do is lie in the hammock, listen to the rain, and pet our rescued kitten. Is this good, is this wrong? Of course, being a therapist, I immediately want to perform a self assessment for mental illness. And how long is this going to last? I sound depressed. God, am I depressed? Do I need medication?
From my cozy spot, above me I watch the breeze gently blow a spider hanging on its web. Its legs are curled to its body like a vampire corpse. Oh, I think, its dead, but upon closer inspection, I see a very alive spider quietly on her web to the side of the husk. What I first noticed was only the skin, an empty hull that had peeled away to release a shiny, new spider.
Somehow, a deep voice in me tells me to just lie back and surrender to this archetypal death. Allow my old self to dry up and peel away. Trust that my new, more shiny self is emerging. And that it is ok to be sad, to take time to remember, to take time to give thanks and recount all the events of my amazing life so far.
Martin and I spend a lot of time going back and forth about whether we should settle here long term, or go back to the life we know. Should we buy land and build a beautiful house here, get a goat, live a quiet life with time for kids and friends, or should we return to the hustle and bustle of the city life in the States, where there are job opportunities and family, better schools for the kids, and lots of friends to choose from? But then we flip around and do a 180…maybe this is just culture shock and we’re in the worst part of it??
My parents, his parents are pining for us as they age in Utah. And they miss their grandchildren terribly. The kids are yearning for the wonderful art school they attended in Utah. The school in Costa Rica has been disappointing and learning Spanish has been slower than we all hoped. The pueblo we live in is tiny. That comes with a lot of lovely, small-town friendliness and intimacy. A slow pace, a feeling of safety and nature abounds. But there is also the rural, conservative mindset and an insidious feeling we will never *really* belong. The extranjero population here have been more than welcoming. They are a wonderful, independent bunch of people, with lots in common with us and a genuine interest in how we fit into their community. This has definitely been the highlight of our experience here. Back and forth, back and forth, pros and cons, more pros and cons.
I realized last night that all this missing and needing to go back is really about missing something that was but is no more. Life in my old country has changed. My grandmother who kept our family together has died, my mother and father divorced and remarried. My brother is too busy and my sister lived in California. My friends have moved away, or have children and busy lives. And my country has changed, at least for me. I do not experience it as the beautiful place it was when I was a child. There are Walmarts and McDonalds on every corner. The entire place smells like plastic and car exhaust. It is polluted and security cameras are everywhere you look. Everyone is working their asses off, kids in daycare. What was wild and beautiful is now a corporate wasteland. I remind myself we are so blessed to have the opportunity to *choose* to be here. I am blessed.
I lie back in my hammock and retrieve a sweet memory from when I was 5 years old. My parents had just built a house in West Jordan, Utah. Its the first day, and the sun is about to set. I have my brand-new rainbow Huffy with a unicorn on the banana seat. I ride around and around the cul-de-sac circle alone in the setting summer sun. I can recall my wispy, blonde hair blowing. I feel my bare feet on the bumpy pedals and the training wheels whirring and touching down when I wobble. There’s a particular smell of dry weeds in the field across the street. And now I smell my mother’s cooking, cabbage and corned beef. A neighbor boy in a white t-shirt with dark blue stripes rides up to me on his bike. “Hi, I’m Travis. Are you new?” My mom opens the front door and calls me in for dinner. I just drop my bike there in the middle of the road and run inside.
This body, mind and soul all came together to make this person that is me. I think, this amazing, strong body of package of mine has taken me on so many adventures. And more are definitely to come. But for now, I will rest this body, and swing here in the hammock, at this crossroads between what once was and what is about to become.