Friday, October 18, 2013


It’s four AM on Friday morning in Costa Rica. From our mountain ridge, the lights of Grecia twinkle in the darkness. We’ve been here for a week with the same four straight-backed chairs, one dining room table and a bed; furniture that was here when we moved in. We have been reading a lot. I just finished Studs Terkel’s Race, another of his powerful oral histories, this one about “how blacks and whites think and feel about the American obsession.” (Read anything by Studs Terkle. He died a couple of years back, but his oral histories The Good War (about WW II), HardTimes (about the Depression) and many others are timeless. In my view, it’s the only way to really understand the human impact of those events.
Anyhow, back to me and our Spartan living conditions. Luckily, I brought my guitar with me on the plane, plus I have a fat book of LA Times Crossword puzzles. Unluckily, our internet has been out for two days, so communication with others has been temporarily interrupted. Without that great time hog, we spend leisurely hours sitting on the patio with our coffee, taking walks with the dogs, riding the bus into Grecia and finding our way around a bit.  I am getting restless, but I have found new parts of myself emerging to take up the slack. Lots of reading, guitar playing and staring at a blank wall wondering, “What is a wall, really?” These Zen moments are enriched by the mama doggie who has befriended us and whom we welcome in our laps as we absent-mindedly stroke her and stare at the valley below wondering, “What is a valley? Is it really there? Or is it merely an image imprinted in my mind? Perhaps we are really on spaceship earth, and the valley is merely a digital image projected on the wall of my cabin. Where is it taking us? Will there be refreshments?”
Anyhow, back to me and our Spartan existence here in Grecia. Our shipper informed us that our eighty five boxes of household and personal stuff would arrive Monday, early evening, from the warehouse in San Jose. Goodby bliss. Hello corrugated cardboard. Now we must face some practical issues. First, the Tico house behind our house was to be a space for my workshop and storage. However, it is full of junk right now, and the landlord is in Canada for another week. We don’t have a key anyhow. So, all those boxes will have to be stored in our little house. Secondly, this is the rainy season. Starting in the afternoon and into the evening, the rain pours down with no regard for who is moving in or out. Third, our house is the last house at the bottom of a steep road (that’s why we have the wonderful view) When our landlord returns, many of those boxes will have to be stored in the Tico house, which is up the hill. We couldn’t find space for my hand truck, so we had to leave it in Phoenix. (We’ll have to buy another one here.) And finally, all that stuff once unpacked will need to be put in or on tables, cabinets, dressers and shelves, none of which we have. Our Subaru will not arrive for two more weeks, at which time we can begin considering what furniture we need to store it all.
Okay, okay. We are not sitting in the dirt in Ethiopia with a bowl of rice for the day, I grant you. The challenges we face are of our own making. However, once again I confront the question of how much stuff does one need?  My friend Liese has assured me that once we have it all here in place, I’ll be glad to have my keyboard, my shop tools, my sculpting materials. She is probably right. I really AM getting a bit restless. But right now, those boxes are a monster in a Japanese horror film. Even as we speak, that corrugated mass is wading through the Caribbean and stepping ashore at Limon. It stomps inland and on Monday, will look down at our little house on the ridge.
“Ha, ha! What do I see before me? Can it be Paul and Marilyn and their pitiful little dogs?” The monster stares down at us cowering on our patio. “Did you think you could escape me so easily?”
“Enough with the rhetorical questions, already,” I reply. “What are you going to do?”
“You shall see, my puny earthlings. You shall see.”
So, the battle takes place on Monday. I think we will win in the end, but I don’t want to lose the clean simple, uncluttered mind space we had here for a week. La pura vida, as the Ticos