No Going Back: "Returning" After a Year Abroad

We are almost nine months living in Costa Rica.  About one year ago exactly, Melissa and I stepped off an airplane on a recon mission to assess what exactly we proposed getting ourselves into.  The March winds of 2018 were whistling.  The drive from the airport to the city was certainly not the palm tree image I had of Costa Rica.  We got dropped off at our Airbnb next to the supermarket and we looked at each other and said, “What the hell?”  But (and yes, there is always a “but”), like many places one visits or lives, it takes a little while to try on the new environment, to sit with it, to smell it, to feel the vibe, and see if a life could be built in a new place. 

Rather quickly we uncovered the gems and the magic of San Jose, the bustling morning panaderias, the warmth of the people, the Pura Vida lifestyle, the chaos of the traffic with its horns and hazards and huecos (potholes), and a launchpad that was ready to catapult us on a journey.  Wow, what a journey (saving that detail for future posts).

At the end of July 2019, we are moving to Seattle after a year in Costa Rica, but we’re not going back.  And therein lies the most valuable treasure of this year abroad.  Regardless of where you live or have lived or will live or want to live, our work has been answering the question, “How do we want to live?” 

This all feels so déjà vu for me.  In 2016 I was sharing with my business coach how my wife and I love Bend, Oregon and how we would love to live there.  I listed out all the things that we liked and how they would make us feel and my coach said, “Why can’t you achieve those same feelings here?  Get to the root of what it is you want to feel, hold those feelings as your standards, and then design your life to achieve those feelings, independent of where you live geographically.”  I heard what he said.  I was not in a great place to truly listen.  I believe that I had to have this journey in Costa Rica to see that “how I want to live” has less to do with “where I live” than I previously thought.

Of course, moving to a place where we have lived before comes with a bunch of experiences (good and bad) that new places don’t.  So yes, it feels like it is going to be harder for me and that makes me nervous.  But we’re not going back.  We are moving to Seattle ready to take on new experiences, maintain some of the magic of our Costa Rica year, continue investing in ourselves, and “feel” the life that we are designing with intention.