This is the exact moment, the exact view I saw when I realised that the unknowns I would continue to experience everyday on this trip not only yielded great opportunities for personal growth, it was also possible that unknown could be exhilarating and wonderful - it wasn't always going to be scary. This view of San José, a friendly, modestly exuberant city squeezed up next to the mountains and volcanoes, quietly excited me. I felt super-charged. I couldn't wait to get started actively seeking out the unknowns of Costa Rica.
If I were in that moment today, I would probably take a selfie. Instead, I took a photo of metal rooftops, the view of the moment. I wanted to hold on to that feeling, that state. I experienced an incredible lightness, a lightness I have experienced only a handful of times in my life. I was alone, on a roof in Costa Rica and filled with JOY and self belief. I felt embraced by the connections I had made at the Turtle project. I was rebooted, calm and almost floating with gratitude. I felt truly free. San José was my oyster! I was in no hurry to leave this roof for now. It felt important to stay still and enjoy this contentedness. I sat awhile with my journal open and began pouring my thoughts into my book, delighted to have space and time to myself.
Before I travelled and since being around 14 years old I had firmly believed in my core that to be a fully actuated and happy woman, you need to be in a loving long term monogamous relationship. You can read more about my previous life and how attempting to uphold and serve that belief at all costs worked out for me here: WHAT?! You really thought that?!
The very idea of that thought being a driver for my behaviour, makes me blush a little now. I know there is nothing wrong with being in a relationship and of course it is human to seek a partner.
I was not doing this trip in search of a boyfriend. In fact I would say that this trip was the absolute opposite of seeking a boyfriend. And yet... In that beautiful blissed out moment of oneness, a man approached my table and asked if he could sit... I glanced up and answered him 'Sure.'
I was irritated and intentionally a little icy, because this was my morning - my big glowing moment on my own and I didn't want anyone to sit on my cloud while I was enjoying being there so much, alone.
And then we started to talk and he was generous and funny and interesting and we seemed drawn to each other. I invited him to the museum I would go to that afternoon and we enthusiastically shared the excerpts on pages we had highlighted in our guide books. My inner dialogue was rational and soothing: We can just be friends, I mean, he seems nice and it is perfectly possible to be just friends, nothing wrong with company in a museum. Its not like its a date...
The next day we went on an excursion together and then another. The tone of my inner voice changed a little, it was a tiny bit shrill:
I mean he obviously doesn't like me like that and anyway I don't think I like him in that way and I shouldn't be doing this, because this whole thing is about being strong on my own, remember?..
After a little resistance (because I was irritated by how pre-destined it seemed that we should meet and how everyone kept asking him if I was his girlfriend and he didn't seem able to say 'No') I let my guard down and we conjoined.
A ten day relationship blossomed. Barely breaking eye contact with each other we scrabbled through caves and visited volcanoes, saw and smelt sulphurous, sputtering fumarolés. We bathed in natural springs, scrubbing ourselves with lemons and sand to try to get rid of the eggy stench of the water afterwards. We white-water-rafted in funny safety helmets, hiked on mountains and through ancient rainforests. We watched capuchin monkeys steal from the pockets of clothes left on the beach while the garment owners swam unaware in the distance. We saw a sloth wobbling through trees and toucan in the wild. We shared a lodge room with and Iguana. Honestly, it was like a montage sequence in a rom com, even down to drinking from fresh coconuts and finding a heart shaped rock on the beach at Parque Naçional Manuel Antonio.
I loved the safety of our closed unit and the ease of travel in our pair. We wrapped ourselves in this intense intimacy. This was easier than lone travel. I started to relinquish my power and decision making skills. 'I don't mind - you choose' became a regular response to the question 'what next?' I was watering myself down, still desperate to hang on to this sense of security, in spite of my revelation on the roof. We spent less than two weeks together and when we parted I was convinced that I loved him and that he was 'the one'.
Emotionally wrung out and alone again. I took a bus from Liberia to Tamarindo and kept my eyes closed almost the whole way, processing the experience of being entirely with someone and then entirely without them.
In my tent, inside a barn in Tamarindo (brilliant idea for a hostel!) I journaled for pages about the uniqueness of this man and the significance of meeting him. Though I was sure my heart was broken, I woke up next day feeling a little bruised but strong. Journaling had memorialised the experience and made it a place I could visit if I needed to. There is an expression, an idea that we meet people for a reason. At the time, I thought I had met my husband. Our story had a couple more episodes to go yet. It would be much, much later that I would come to understand that this man was not my life partner but a mirror.
Our tender but ultimately dysfunctional union was an accelerated remake of all the other intimate relationships I had ever had. The way I was with him enabled me to see my self-reducing behaviour when in the role of girlfriend more clearly than I had in or after any previous relationship. He was a catalyst for inner change. By the time our connection concluded - when I finally let go, I knew that I had to take the risk and the pain of transformation. I knew that only changing would eventually lead to a place within where I could be happy all by myself. I knew this because I had experienced that joyful oneness before, on a roof in Costa Rica.