Dreaming of returning to paradise…

living in Costa RicaI had a dream last night, in more vivid colors than I could ever imagine in my brown desert town. Yes, there are the glitzy lights of the Las Vegas Strip, but this was different: in my pre-dawn adventure, I was looking skyward at five layers of magnificent, magic-kissed tropics of the brightest greens and the bluest blues. The weirdest part of the whole thing was that I ended up there, I don’t know how, and met some sort of tour guide to this wonderful place through my mother. And to my surprise: Wow! I had had this woman’s name and phone number on my vanity mirror for a year but had never got around to calling. I didn’t feel relief in my dream, oh my, I almost missed finding paradise. Instead, it was more like, look at that: two paths, same ending.

While I was living in Costa Rica after losing my job, I mourned the end of my career and accepted a new chapter as a small business owner living overseas. As it turned out, I was simply “between jobs,” an unexpected offer bringing my sabbatical to an end. Two years after my return, many people who hear the hours I work and the sacrifices I make don’t understand why I don’t move back to the beach. My reason is simple: I can do that anytime, when I’m 40, 50, or even 60. But my current job? It has a shelf life.

After all of these unexpected twists and turns, I take experience as it comes: no “bucket list,” goals, or life plan.

But like so many others who have jumped into the wide unknown, I do have a dream. And it’s a real dream, tangible. Not just in the subconscious, foggy hours before my horn-like alarm awakes me for work, but in my return visits to the place that changed my life. It is real: I lived a year in an imperfect paradise, of colorful personalities and friends with the time to form an attachment that usually takes years. I brought back two scrappy street dogs to keep me company in Las Vegas, and in the rare moments when they are so tired they sit still with me, cuddly sacks of flour in my lap, I can see the scars on their little legs. Those marks take me right back to the magic of the evenings when they would run off – and I would hear the barking and madness of them raising Cain off in the distance. I used to be so nervous and upset, but now I look back and miss the wildness, how life wasn’t as manufactured as mine is now.

I might never have a white picket fence or a family of four, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have lived my dream already, and because it is real, I will live it again. I will travel more, see the world, move. I’m not scared of returning to paradise as soon as this particular life opportunity ends, even as the beach haunts my dreams: I look forward to the next adventure every bit as much as I am enjoying my current one. My life might not be “normal” or “average,” but I am proud of my history. I love my scars.

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. The scars are often what makes us who we are, just as much as the smiles:)

  2. Takes a lot to put it out there, your thoughts in to words. Great writing Abby!

  3. I think this is the best post you’ve ever written! LOVE!!

  4. Awww thanks, guys! Was sort of fun to write, instead of reporting on something for once!

  5. I adore this post and I adore you. It’s so beautiful to live a life that is a dream. You know that I of all people will support choosing not to choose one single life, dream, or destiny.

  6. And you KNOW I adore you!!!!! Thank you, Rease. 🙂

  7. I heart you and this post. When you’re ready for the beach again, you know you’ll have a partner in crime 😉 xoxo

  8. Very well written. I admire you for living life on your own terms and not giving into the pressures of peer groups or society. Man, I need to see you again! xo

  9. This is one of my most favorite posts ever. Raw, honest, beautiful. Just like you!

  10. This is the first post that I have read on your blog, and really enjoyed it. I think we have to make choices on what we feel is right at the time. You chose the job, understandably so as it seems like a good opportunity. I however, chose the later as I am the one in their 40’s etc, and I feel that my travel life has a shelf life. Already, I get those aches and pains and realise that in another ten years or so, I may not be as healthy as I am now. So, I feel that traveling now is the best, while I am healthy enough to enjoy it. Like you I feel that I may never have that large family, or white picket fence – but hey, for me thats a great thing as it means I get to live the life that I love. Congrats on a great post!

  11. Thank you soo much for your comment! I can’t wait to become an addict of your blog. There are so many ways to get it all in — my mom raised three kids and is now a huge jet-setter, even though for decades the only time she had ever left the country was her honeymoon. If I hadn’t been offered this job, I think I would still be in Central America.

  12. I think this is one of the most beautiful things I have read: “I will travel more, see the world, move.”

    It perfectly sums up what we do when we pick up and GO. 🙂

  13. Thank you, Jenn!!! I’ve been trying to “write” more but feel embarrassed. Work has been kicking my a**, too. Let me know what conventions and such you’re going to. I’d love to actually hang out next time!!

  14. Such beautiful writing, Abby. I love that you live in the moment and realize this is not your life forever and that life is always changing. I miss you!

  15. Lovely post, Abby, very honest. I understand that you don’t want to waste this job opportunity you’ve been given, which from your posts looks really great, but I also understand you want to (and will) go back to paradise. Good luck 😉

  16. Wonderful post – scars and smiles have value and paradise is where you find it.

  17. Although I’ve been following your blog for a while I’d missed this post. I’d been thinking about how, over the last few years, your life has been so very different, almost two extremes. People are so happy to pigeon-hole others “county bumpkin,” “beach bum,” “city girl” ……. I’ve always hated that, and you’re thriving proof that one can be a diverse and complex person, enjoy a wide variety of stuff (including lifestyles) and …… it’s ok —– ok to break the moulds!! My dream has always been to mix city life and country/beach life, though I’ve never pulled off the balance I would like! Keep up the great work – whatever it may be, and wherever it may take you!

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