follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
Santa Teresa, CR
Solo time is so important.
Terence and I decided to take a week to ourselves during our time in Costa Rica. I went to Montezuma, he went to Santa Teresa. We talked about this solo-time-thing before our travels began, and have even done this a couple times when we were living together in Santa Barbara—intentionally separating for a few days or a week or longer to nurture that part of ourselves that is still autonomous.
And it feels very different taking time for oneself once past the dating stage of relationship. Once we moved in together, have been in partnership for a few years, talk about family, etc., there is this feeling of abandonment that can come up when he asks for his own space, and a feeling of guilt can come up when I ask for mine.
A prevalent story in our culture is that if you love the person you should want to be with them all the time, and if you take space then something must be wrong. I was met with so many variations of this story when I was in Montezuma—when I told the people that I was traveling with my partner, but we wanted to be in different places for a week...
He’s probably off with other women you know.. Are you polyamorous? Oh, is something wrong? Well if he’s not here, that means that we can get together.. *wink wink*
And, I was met with understanding...
That’s amazing, I’d like to try that. Yes, time for myself is what keeps my marriage healthy. Wow! So glad you’re learning this at your age!
The truth of it all for me is that when I know myself, know I can take care of myself, know ways to meet my own needs, and can be happy on my own, I am bringing SO MUCH MORE of myself into my relationship with Terence. I then get to choose him, instead of relying on him to make me feel complete.
And that is what I felt when we came back together yesterday. This sweetness and care with each other, an excitement to be in each other’s company, a deepening of appreciation for each other (flaws and all), and a richness in our love.
When I get to be me, and he gets to be him, we’re reminded of why we came together in the first place.
Last night I sang and improvised at an open mic night with musicians in Montezuma. And I am feeling delighted and mushy and vulnerable and grateful for the whole experience and the people I met through it. And said experience was not very smooth or expected, as the most memorable and remarkable tend to be.
I got into Montezuma yesterday afternoon. Terence and I have been desiring some solo adventure time, so he is in Santa Teresa until I meet him there next week. I walked around the downtown area—which is really the whole area, Montezuma being such a small and intimate town—and I felt so unexpectedly lonely. This solo-time I had been craving was here and I was terrified of it. I knew, though, that these feelings were natural and beautiful. That I was in the midst of the process of discovering what travel is like without Terence by my side. Discovering what travel is like for me, by me, with me. This necessary and fulfilling journey. And that if I just let myself feel lost and alone, the energy stored in those feelings could be free to circulate through my body and be used as fuel for whatever my time here would hold...
So I cried. I curled into a ball and cried in my hostel, praying that nobody else would check into my room so I could be alone in my grief of being alone. I felt my child-self desiring a lap to lay in and a hug and an everything will be alright. I tried my best to give that to myself, without making my feelings wrong, or forcing them to move quicker than they needed.
Eventually movement happened. Movement of emotion which led to movement of body and motivation to get outside. And I met a man on the side of the road selling jewelry. At first, defenses were up. They were saying I don’t want to really engage with this person, he’s just trying to get my money, and I don’t want to use my energy connecting with him. But this man was a divine gift, saying hola in the right place at the right time, I just didn’t know it yet. In his genuine offerings of information about the town and questions of getting to know me, he shared that around the corner there was an open mic night where many local musicians come to play...
Sitting down in Orgánico Montezuma for the first few minutes in what felt like a sea of people—which was really only about 30—I felt raw and fragile, but knew that this was where I needed, and wanted, to be. I could feel my masks of “okayness” wanting to come up, trying to cover the clear remnants of my sadness. But more than that I felt my desire to be myself, raw fragility and all.
Some magic started whirling through the air...people coming and going and music filling the space with sublime melody and passion. Within a few minutes a man asked to sit down with me at my table, to clear up his table for a bigger group of people. His name was Stephen. So friendly, so warm, so genuine and excited about music and life and connection and creation. And I realized within our getting to know each other, that I felt open, I felt honest, and I felt grounded. My recent experience of raw-sad-alone-ness had opened up the gates of authenticity within me, becoming the nourishing fuel telling the parts of me that were scared and lonely that it’s safe to connect and it’s safe to be yourself. And pretty soon, Stephen was introducing me to other locals and friends and creatives—the sea of people I had been afraid of, opening their arms to me, welcoming me into their world, con gusto.
Before I fully realized what was happening, Stephen was up on the little stage playing drums for a friend of his who was on the guitar, and Livio, the owner of the restaurant, was asking me to get up and sing with them. I don’t have anything prepared... I said, the musical theatre girl in me coming through. Livio shrugged with a smile, and said neither does anybody.
So I sang. Timidly at first, waiting for specific moments to add a little harmony, or a background hummm. But the more I allowed the music to move my hips and shoulders, the more I allowed my body to trust that what was wanting to come through was enough, the more sound came forth. And then riffs. And improvisations. And then no more background vocals for me I was full force IN IT. And positively vibrating with delight in every second of it.
And music was made. And it had peaks and valleys and unknowns and freedom. The gods of expression moving through us in those moments we allowed ourselves to be open. And my emotions, those sneaky messengers of divine flow, guiding me to that place.
The performer and perfectionist and critic in me wants to come up with ways that I could have done more; been more creative, sounded better, been more connected, etc. But while I hear those voices and appreciate them for what they are, I know that they are ultimately coming from the space of vulnerability that occurs when I am letting my soul speak through me, when I don’t control myself as much, when I am a vessel for creative energy. And pure creative energy is not always the smoothest, but it is certainly the most alive.
Hola from Costa Rica!
Terence and I arrived a little over a week ago—I can't believe how quickly time goes by when exploring new places! Were we really just recently in Australia?.... Time is so weird.
Wifi out here is rare and spotty, so I haven't been able to update the blog as frequently as my creative side would like. Which, a part of me actually LOVES, because it means that I'm allowing my body to drop into the the land and the totality of my very physical experiences of travel and heat and discovering and carrying our bags from place to place to place. Ah, Pura Vida! And the other part of me is going fuckkkkkkkk I have so much I want to write about! So, in rare moments such as this, sitting in a quaint and surprisingly happened upon little vegan café in Cahuita, the blogger in me is happy and grateful. And the foodie in me is equally grateful!
Terence and I spent last week in Uvita, attending the 4 day Envision Festival with a lively crew of friends, sweetly captured above. Surprisingly, Envision was a super mellow festival experience for me. Not really what I had anticipated when imagining going to a transformational festie in Costa Rica. And, this was all absolutely perfect. Perfect in the way that the Latin root of “perfect” is “complete”. Not good or bad, just complete--how lovely is that? And how perfect is that. Credit goes to my awesome mama for pointing out this delightful new awareness of this word. There were of course plenty of opportunities for staying up for sunrise sets, playing with medicines, taking a plethora of workshops, and buying the gorgeous clothing and jewelry being sold by vendors and locals—but it wasn't that kind of festival for me. Where the completeness existed for me at Envision was in the people I spent it with...
This is one of those beautiful realizations of life—that our fellow humans truly are, and become, the spaces we are cradled by, the homes we are loved in, and in this case, the jungle of creativity where I was brought to laughter, tears, discoveries, universes, surprises, and, often, delightfully comfortable stretches of time of sitting in each others company, just simply being. The Envision crew (myself, Terence, our friends from SB Aaron and Sarah, and new friends Abigail, Shmoo, Lorin, Dan, Rowyn, Kris and Julia) decided to rent an Airbnb together for the week of the festival. It was absolutely lovely to get to know these humans, and to allow for the ebbs and flows of sinking into rich conversation and connection, and doing our own thing.
There is a kind of joy I feel in my soul when I meet people for the first time and within 24 hours I am witnessing naked yoga and invited to play games of authenticity and revealing....this kind of joy is giddy and bright and connects to the roots of my humanity. The roots of me that have embraced literal nakedness as a space of comfort and liberation and acceptance over the last few years, and goes ahhhh soooooo beautiful when I witness others doing the same. And the roots of me that have embraced emotional and metaphorical nakedness, all the weird and exuberant and sometimes shadowy parts of myself as perfect/complete and welcome when I am meeting people for the first time.
And, there is another kind of joy that I feel when I am specifically adventuring with friends from home, Aaron, Sarah, and of course, Terence—these friends who get me, friends who see me, friends who accept me and support me as I am. And this kind of joy is felt in my soul, too, but also emanates from my heart, and fills up my entire body with this sigh of ease, rippling out in colors and patterns and smiles that start to hurt my cheeks. I suppose another name for this joy, simply put, is love.
We jive very well together. Our little foursome, of me Terence, Aaron and Sarah. The highlights of the entire Envision experience for me were roaming the festival grounds with them. We lazed about in hammocks and sang to my ukulele. We drank cacao and then people watched, because festivals are prime grounds for this kind of thing. We danced—and when I say we danced, we DANCED, and it was booty-shakin good. We sat in the shade of trees—trees that were dropping flowers on us, which sounds delightful, but these flowers were so strangely heavy that each time they dropped it felt like a personal attack. And we talked. And hung out. And relaxed. And Sarah and I flittered about the festival like two fabulous fairies because that's what we are. And within all of this, not necessarily doing anything hugely different from how we might do it back home in SB. And that was so much of the beauty for me—we were ourselves.
The Envision crew has gone our separate ways now, and Terence and I have been traveling with our sweet Sarah before she heads off to a permaculture course in Puerto Viejo. The journey continues, as it always will, changing, shifting, blossoming, unraveling. And as Sarah always shares gratitude before she eats her meals, I'm inspired to share a gratitude here:
In this moment, I'm grateful for the unpredictability of travel. I'm grateful for the richness of the human experience in culture, in connection, in friendship.