Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Dream of Costa Rica

I am a boring person. Supermarket boring, make that market, nothing spectacularly super about it. I like watching tv, shopping, hanging out with friends. I feel a little trill of excitement when I get those free return address labels from the Susan G. Koman foundation, or Save the Pandas, whatever. I rip open the envelope to see--do they have pink ribbons on them? Flowers? A Smile Train smile? Oh goody! They spelled my name correctly! In some ways this is sad, I know. But I feel very safe with the mundane.
Bryan wants us to move to Costa Rica. This is not new. He is a tropical boy who breathes best underwater. When he was ten years old his parents took him out of school for a year and they sailed to Tahiti. When I was ten years old I read every book on Ramona Quimby. This is the biggest difference between us: He craves movement and I need to be still.

Last night I could not sleep; I thought of Kuki Gallmann. Kim Basinger. Alec Baldwin was a fleeting thought based on pure free-association. Filthy pigs. There are fer de lance snakes in Costa Rica, spiders the size of dinner plates, torrential rain and cars that pass on blind curves. I am fairly certain Susan G. Koman would not send me address labels. For one, I would not have an address.
But what would we do? I ask Bryan. Nothing, he says, as if nothing is a perfectly acceptable answer, a perfectly acceptable thing to do, which I suppose it is somewhere, for some reason, or no reason at all. We would live on the money we make off our house and then come home when it ran out, he said. At some point he fell asleep and I listened to the click of my eyelids in the dark as I tried to troubleshoot what I saw as trouble: So we would come home with nothing? What about our stuff? Our cars? How we would get around? How would we do our laundry? What about Nacho? What about health insurance? What about Zoey? She loves her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, sees them all the time now. What about pre-school? And I did what I do when I feel uncertain: I tried to see it for certain. Zoey muddy and laughing at the beach (But she hates the feel of sand!). Me writing a book about the adventure (But would I be able to find wireless access? Could the laptop withstand the humidity, the salt air? The rain?) We would come home and live with Bryan's parents. (With nothing!) Beside me, Bryan snored. In the dark of the night I lived a year in Costa Rica, the glamour of the idea, the jealous shine in the eyes of my friends when I told them, the book deal, the gnawing homesickness, the boredom of nothing, the fear of freedom. The viper that might bite my child.

In the morning I proposed an alternative idea: we stay the course, stay here, sell our house and rent. But take the money from the house and use it to buy property in Costa Rica to build a vacation home. With the goal being that eventually we spend our summers there. I can do that--Zoey would learn Spanish, all of us exotic come September. There are still questions: what would we do with our place here each summer? Will our jobs afford enough time off to make it worthwhile? But I can live with these questions. I can do three months without return address labels. Just as long as I have something still to return.
*All pics past trips to Costa Rica: Malpais and Pavones.


Miss to Mrs said...

My hands hurt from wringing them while reading this. I may lie awake tonight worrying about this now. Moving to Costa Rica and do nothing. It sounds glamorous until you get to the nuts and bolts of it and that's the part that gives me an ulcer. I'm with you. I need to be still also. Add to that spiders and vipers, I'll pass!

Unknown said...

Susannah, Susannah, SU-SA-NNAH!! What is wrong with you girl??????
How many times have we had this conversation??
Just do it. You will remember this experience forever. So will Zoey.

Give it one year....and go.
I will miss you, but I will come visit you. So will your parents, brothers and sisters, and all of your friends.
Don't sell yourself short because of fear. Do it. Do it. Do it.

Good Enough Woman said...

I love the honesty of this post, and I TOTALLY get you on this. The year before my husband and I got together, he was traveling around the world in developing countries. He spent three months surfing in Sri Lanka. Although I surfed, too, I did it on the central coast while living in my nice little condo.

We talk about this kind of thing, too, and I, too, worry about pest and pestilence. Then again, I hear Costa Rica is quite nice! And I have met people who have done this thing--this going away thing--and I don't know any of them who regret having done it.

mamacita said...

You should read Leo Babuta's blog. He moved to Guam and had boffo success with his blog, then a book deal.

Robin said...

Easy for me to say because I have a husband less adventurous than me, and I also love me some Susan G Komen address labels - but Go, Go, Go! What an amazing adventure for the three of you.

Michelle {lovely little things} said...

So true how opposites attract.

I find myself often debating the same dilemma, should I take a year while I'm single and "free" and teach somewhere exotic or simply just abroad?

Or should I stay where it's comfortable, where people know my name, and I know theirs...and I too get free return address labels,

but then I'm haunted by the idea that I'll always wonder "what if?"

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I have no idea how I came to your blog, but I enjoy it a lot! I am delurking to comment on this post. I lived in CR for a year and it was one of the best years ever! I joined my then-boyfriend (now husband) who was there working as a pilot. There are frustrations about living in CR - inefficiencies and a pace of life we were not used to, but that quickly didn't matter so much. I loved it so much that I haven't been back to the US since! (Moved on to Spain, Canada and now China.)

I don't have kids, so take this with a grain of salt, but I do think it is a real gift to take your kids abroad. My parents took me to Kuwait for two years as a teen and it changed my life! (mind opening, language skills, new viewpoints, meeting people from other cultures/religions/lifestyles, tolerance, networking, travel, etc.)

PS I never saw a snake once, although a baby tarantula and plenty of birds wandered in and out of our house.

krista said...

have you read the blog 'one plus two'....
she is moving right now to the jungle with her husband and four year old.
here's the link : http://droolstreet.blogspot.com/
i'm technically impaired and don't know how to make it a direct link for you.
i'm living vicariously through her right now.

Petunia said...

My girlfriend and her husband sold their house two years ago and left to live in Costa Rica. They went down there to volunteer at an animal rescue reserve. They are SO damn happy that I'm even jealous...I don't do snakes, bugs, spiders, jungles..at all, ever! Go do it! All that stuff you're worrying about will get worked out or it won't. So what? Girl, you're being asked to dance so go DANCE! You can freak out and worry about life down there while you get the tan of a lifetime just as easily as you can do it here. Go get crazy for a year. Once Zoey is in school that will be harder to do. And BTW, they have Internet, silly girl! You can blog and make us all jealous.

Anonymous said...

we left the bay area two years ago. my husband and i both grew up there. we have never ever never looked back. it is beautiful there in sf, but it is also very expensive and crowded. there is a whole world out there (here?) waiting to be discovered.

since leaving, i have found that there are stunning places, nice people, and a cheaper cost of living (wow - disposable income - huh!).

we compared many different places, and ended up in colorado. it's been great for our family.

i would encourage you to go. you will not regret it.

Thao said...

Wow, how exciting! I'll be thinking of you as I'm watching House Hunters International on HGTV. You and Bryan and Zoey will have fantastic adventures!

Retro-luxe said...

Will you have indoor plumbing? Will you be able to get china bandaids there? I should not advise--my idea of "nature" is a Marriot hotel with no ice.
I feel confident you're going to get a book deal either way.

Anonymous said...

I understand the hesitation, Susannah. It's totally scary. But take it from someone who's moved around a lot (and was moved around by my parents to a foreign country as a child). It's always worth it. You will never regret it. You will always be grateful you did it even though you were scared. Believe me. I say go for it, girl.

amy b.s. said...

do it. it would be an adventure. you would have a lot of great book material. it would be so exciting. it's really living your life! easy for me to say as this is not an option that i've been presented with! you should also build a guest house! and even though i don't know you, i would come visit! :)

Petunia Face said...

Really? Most of you think I should GO? Gah. Easy to say when your husband isn't pulling out the backpack. Yipes. You've all given me a nervous tummy (as if I didn't have one before).

Richie Designs said...

I am just like you. I need my photos hung on a wall that I come home to every day.

One of my friends routinely sells or gives away everything she owns every 5-6 years. Lives on the edge every moment I have known her.

When I went to my therapist and talked about my frustration of watching her do this of landing on her feet every single time I thought she was out of her ever loving mind...

My therapist said. "I really think we have people in our lives like this to remind us that in the end that things always works out"

That gives me a little more confidence to wake up every morning and let go of a little piece of what I thought I needed to control.

I still want to live and work in my 5 mile radius, know where everything will be stored, have my art on the walls, but it gives me a little more comfort that things will be ok no matter what

Jessie said...

Funny thing, G and I are actually planning on doing this sometime shortly after he finishes grad school. We fell in love with Costa Rica two years ago, and have been DYING to go back since.

Zoe and Sadie will go to live with my parents, and we'll rent out our place here. G can teach school and I can continue teaching yoga, and if we like it well enough... we'll send for our things (including pets of course)!

Let's just go together. Depending on what coast we're on, your French will translate beautifully and then at least we'll both know each other!

There you have it!

amber {daisy chain} said...

DO it, I'm pretty sure we've had this conversation. Do it. There is no better time than right now, Zoey isn't even in school for what, 2 more years?? Do it! My new motto is "live the life you love", and can you say that you really love your life right now? I don't think I've seen you smile for a very long time. Happiness doesn't always come in the form of a paycheck. Maybe it's in exploring the unknown and conquering some fears along the way.

Anonymous said...

Do it! Carve out a little niche for yourselves somewhere in a new and different place, you won't regret it. It may have some moments you don't like, but there will be so many that you do that they will outweigh the iffy ones. Remember, you can ALWAYS come back, anytime. Home will always be here waiting for you, but the opportunity to have an adventure like this might not come again. Take it!

benson said...

my daughter and her husband just returned from a 6 month trip to New Zealand/Australia. They don't have a child so it was a little easier (although Zoey is a great age to travel)but they just went for it. TRIP OF A LIFETIME- and relatives can visit YOU. Now back in the USA- she just landed an amazing job at double the salary--almost like God was blessing her for going ;)