Monday, May 24, 2010

When Joedy and I moved to Costa Rica we knew we'd feel far from family and friends, but it wasn't till we got there that we realized just how far we really were, how alone we were. While living in California we'd already been far away from many of our close family members, so we thought we could handle the distance between Central America and our loved ones; with Skype, email, and plane rides, we'd keep our relationships alive, we'd manage.

By the second week there I was totally depressed and didn't give a flying fruit loop about monkeys or warm turquoise water--I didn't care about the adventure, I just wanted to go home. The idea of staying long-term in Costa Rica, of creating lives for ourselves that would more or less exclude the people we cared most about, felt very, very wrong. Sure, we could fly to visit people, we could video chat every day, but the fact remained that it felt far, really far, and the thought of Lula and Malko growing up like that--apart from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins--made us sad. It wouldn't be right for them, it wouldn't be right for our families, and it wouldn't be right for us: we realized we couldn't live there after all.

We revised our plans, thinking we'd stay a year, maybe nine months, and as soon as the decision was made to come back to the States we cheered up. More than ever before, we knew distance wasn't what we wanted between ourselves and our families; feeling so deeply far away, we saw closeness with new eyes--the relationships we were privileged to have seemed more important and valuable, less easy to take for granted. I thought a lot about the bridges I'd burned, or come close to burning, over the years by not returning phone calls or emails, by simply not being there when someone I loved needed me, and though my chronic "communication-procrastination problem" almost always stemmed from a fear of not doing it right--not having interesting things to say, not sounding happy--I thought it was time to change: it was time to become a more loving, supportive friend and family member, to get over myself and into other people, to become a giver.

Our stay in Costa Rica ended early, in November, and for the next few months, while our lives crept slowly back from near-total disarray, we were shown again and again how lucky we were to have family and friends--people who took us in, supported us, offered their help--and though we didn't like taking, to be living like lame losers off the people we wanted to give back to, it was good to be with them; it was good to be close, not far away.

Since January, when we landed in Austin, our lives have blossomed in ways I didn't think possible. There have been some changes I'm tempted, now and then, to think of as miracles, but effort and love, not just luck, have been involved, and I know the likelihood of more change manifesting--of our being the people we want to be--is good.

I thought about this stuff tonight, sitting at the dinner table with Joedy's parents and my own, visiting us for a week from Rhode Island. It was their first encounter since Joedy and I hooked up, thirteen momentous years ago, and seeing them together, singing to Malko and playing with Lula, relaxed and happy, close to us, part of our lives, gave me the feeling that things are going in the right direction; the road from Costa Rica, or to Costa Rica, is taking us where we want to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment