Tuesday, May 18, 2010

leaving the dream

I was supposed to start this blog six months ago. That's when my husband, our twin two-year-old daughters and I left everything but a double stroller and three suitcases filled to the breaking point with clothes, children's books and stuffed animals and moved to Costa Rica.

I was supposed to write a blog about how we chucked L.A.--and all that comes with it--to live in paradise. Paradise would wash away the stress of modern society and reveal to us who we're meant to be. Meaning happier, healthier, wiser, more creative, more productive, and thinner. Much, much thinner.

We would be living the dream.

Here's what I realized.

Paradise is hard. Really fucking hard.

It's not what you expect it to be because you're not who you expected to be.

I'm a lot more afraid than I ever wanted to admit to myself.

One of the reasons I'm afraid – but probably not the biggest – is that I just lost my job of ten years – the freelance job that's been paying our bills and that allowed us to come down here in the first place. The job was more than that, too. It was my tie to my old life. The link to who I am. Or was. Who knows.

I'm afraid because I'm beginning to think I may not be happy anywhere. And that means the problem is . . . me.

I’m afraid that I'm just not up to the challenge of living in paradise – or of returning home triumphantly. But the thought of going back home with my tail between my legs gives me a stomachache. I guess I'm afraid I don't have gumption, guts, moxie, spunk.

But I do have . . . what do I have?

An incredible chance to find out who I am and what I'm made of?

The future lies before me like a sleeping giant. All I have to do is tickle his toes and he'll give me the world. Or squash me like a bug.

Can you see why it's taken me six months to start this thing?

What I now know is that living in paradise isn't a dream. It's a wake-up call.

Suddenly you see what you're made of.

There's the stuff you learn about yourself that makes you proud. I can learn to drive a stick shift -- then drive an 1989 SUV up a dirt road in a rainstorm. I can stare down a tarantula. (From behind a glass door. But still!) I can raise twins in a beautiful place where they play in a clear blue sea and know the names of monkeys and butterflies.

Then there's the stuff about myself I'd rather not see.

I'm afraid.

I'm kind of lazy.

I'm totally lost.

Everybody knows the Costa Rican saying "Pura Vida." It means "pure life." Or basically "No worries." But there's another Costa Rican saying that goes: "First Dura Vida, then Pura Vida." Which means "First hard life then pure life."

I promised my husband and myself we'd give this adventure at least a year. We're at the halfway mark now. And it's strange. I feel like I'm at the halfway mark with myself.

Gumption don't fail me now.


  1. Wow! Brava, Emily -- this was worth the wait! You may be living in the bush but you're not beating around it. I'm looking forward to more, especially about what life is like in paradise ... as filtered through your dark crystal.

  2. I can tell you one thing you are...an amazing writer. I've always known that though, and was so excited to see that you started a blog..even happier having read it.
    and..um.. you moved to costa rica!!? you may be afraid, but you certainly have balls, can't wait to see what's next. best of luck!
    (oh and also, did you move to cahuita..the caribbean side i take it??? was there a few months ago..beautiful...well done)

  3. What a great story ..did not know that is where you went! I dream of leaving NYC for the beach and you did it! A good friend of mine lives there and he loves it! Best of luck and like your blog.

  4. I feel so compelled to leave you a note, but lacking in the shadow of your vast skill. This is a time in your life that will stay with you forever - for the good and the bad. :-) Embrace it all, the fear, the laziness, the hard, the pure. I love you!