VALIDATING Space in a New Chapter

Hello there, Frosty.

Hello there, Frosty.

 When we left home on September 3rd, our home had turned human; an abandoned being, left naked with all its dresser drawers barren, kitchen left hungry with an empty fridge, and window shades cutting off its view of the street where it resides. For the next nine months, it wouldn’t be our place to come and go as we please, and as I dosed off on the plane ride headed towards the equator, I had a moment of panic. Does the renter have a dog we don’t know about? Exotic pets he never mentioned?


For every new chapter to begin something must be left behind.


There was a time in my life I would have said a definitive “no” to a stranger eating from my utensils and sleeping on my mattress, standing barefoot in my shower. But a time has come in which the adventure outweighs the possessions, and I feel like I have been waiting for this moment for some time. Perhaps, once we have acquired all that we need to be comfortable, it is easier to let it all go. Or maybe opportunity to occupy a new space, both physically and mentally, is just something that can’t be ignored.


Five weeks in, life on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast has felt pretty seamless in every way. Friends who shipped their Vancouver life via Pacific Ocean to Brasalito have been a welcome parachute. With the kids in school, we have fallen into a guaranteed community made up of 23 different nationalities, and met some amazing people living their dream.


But today—a Sunday—I’ve had my first bout of homesickness.


Usually getting out to do something fun can resolve that, but one thing about rainy season here, is it can be as “treacherous” as our slippery Alberta highways in winter. People warn us not to drive anywhere if we don’t have to—trees get uprooted and fall into the road and there is no way of getting home until they clear it—which can take a “pura vida” amount of time—aka a long time. When I tell a friend we are thinking of going to Monte Verde, a mountain getaway, for the long weekend, she tells me the road can be “hairy” in rainy season, and even wash away. “Chewy,” our beloved Mitsubishi Montero, is fun like your friend’s hand-me-down Bronco was fun in high school, but maybe not so reliable, so we cancel those plans.


One day when school is once again cancelled because the rains have washed out the bridge, we decide to go into Tamarindo to see a movie—Pie Pequeño (Smallfoot). We manage to catch the afternoon English with Spanish subtitles version, and get the full package for about $14. Movie tickets, two giant popcorn with drinks and candies, as well as a fries and wiener concoction that I end up, for some reason, spreading mustard all over and consuming. It’s strangely delicious and comforting.


On the drive home, we experience what it is to drive in a tropical rain storm. We have to pull over because our windshield wipers won’t move fast enough, and there are no lines or reflectors in the road to show us the way. It is not like driving blind, it is driving blind.


But what the rainy season and this second month into a life hiatus has allowed me is a real breath—an extended amount of downtime that has left me with uncomfortable moments of restlessness and a need to return home, as well as moments of gratitude for having time to let my mind wander and just be. New chapters are useless if they are not uncomfortable.


Zat Rana makes some sense of this feeling: “Because thinking patterns emerge from the mental habit loops we form as a response to experience, the only way to diversify them is to seek out new and conflicting encounters.”


We may accomplish this by diving into a book, a game of Haiku, or a crossword. Or we may seek unfamiliar environments, as we have this year. Our Costa Rican address has afforded us most of the luxuries of home, but the difference has been giving ourselves permission to live a new pace of life—the realization that not every moment of our time needs to be occupied with a skill-building or revenue-generating activity.

I’m starting to see that what happens in the space in between might be even more valuable.


Some days, it feels like a hard mind-set to let go of, but finding that space might take me lining up my shampoo and conditioner in someone else’s shower for a while.


 Question I have been pondering

How do I define “home”?

  Book I am reading

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Scary. And brilliant.