I watched as the other guests from my yoga retreat filed into the airport shuttle to leave Costa Rica and return to wherever their home was on the morning of Saturday, December 8th, 2012. But rather than join them on the airport shuttle and return to my home in Utah, I sat with my laptop and all my luggage at a little table in the hotel lobby at Sugar Beach. I had just finished changing my flight to be a few days later and I was waiting for Adam to pick me up and take me on our next adventure, his home.
There was about an hour between when the shuttle left and when Adam was picking me up, so that was my time to not only make my changes in itinerary known to the airline, but also to my recent ex boyfriend, who wanted to pick me up from the airport that night. My fingers shook a little as I slowly typed a message to him letting him know I’d be staying a little longer and he didn’t need to pick me up tonight and leaving it at that for now. When my ex dropped me at the airport a week ago, the day after we’d broken up, his last words to me were “I’m afraid you’re going to go to Costa Rica and fall in love and not want to come back.”
I laughed when he said that because it seemed like such an absurd comment, but was that what was actually happening? I didn’t know anything yet, only that I was staying a few more days to explore this connection with Adam, and that I felt pretty vulnerable when the airport shuttle pulled away with its 10 passengers, leaving me sitting there, alone, crossing my fingers that Adam would show up. But what if he didn’t come?
And just as my worst case scenario thinking tried to bully its way into my perception of my situation, I saw Adam’s car Big Rhonda appear in the distance of the dirt road entrance of Hotel Sugar Beach. He was here to transport me into whatever this was that we were doing together; this bonus round to my yoga retreat was officially beginning.
Adam approached me with a look of excitement and scooped me into his arms for a hug that felt like home, he picked up my bag and backpack that had my yoga mat attached to the back, and away we went in Big Rhonda back to his house.
The next 2 days with Adam went fast and were filled with beach excursions, home cooking, swimming in the ocean, cliff jumping (which I watched but did not participate in) and just talking late into the night about anything and everything. Adam and his roommate Steve owned the little crystal shop and paddle board rental spot in Potrero up the road from his house, so occasionally we’d stop in to visit Steve who was in the shop and in his element there. Some moments I completely forgot about my reality in Utah because I was so submerged in my now that was filled with talk about fantasy futures of lots of travel, yoga retreats, workshops and healing retreats for people. And then other moments I was filled with fear about what the hell I was doing indulging in this vacation romance with this gorgeous young hippie, who was wise beyond his years, but very much not a realistic long term option for me, purely because of the logistics of our countries of residence.
But Adam could always tell when I’d slip away for a moment into my head, revisiting my past or flashing forward into future worry and he’d bring me back instantly with a simple touch or a kiss. Being with him was the closest thing I’d felt to magic and I’d never had a connection like this before. Each day that we spent together felt like I was sinking more deeply into another world, and that was as confusing as it was exciting. But the time came for me to leave again, so on my last day with Adam in Costa Rica I sat on his bed on his laptop, logged into my Facebook, and I pulled up his profile page and looked at it while he was in the other room. Should I add him as a friend? Or would that be weird? Should I tell him I want to stay connected after I leave? Or would that be too forward? I was doing a great job of confusing myself as I stared at the screen with his picture. But Adam walked in on this dilemma I was having, smiled at me because he saw exactly what was happening in my head, so he leaned over me, took my hand under his and together we both pressed the button on his laptop that added him as a friend. It was as if he knew I needed to have a little hand holding to navigate these next steps in whatever this was we were forming. But I relaxed knowing we’d at least made a step in the right direction, and he wrote down my Skype address as well which would enable us to speak as well. And that was that, it was time to go.
Our goodbye was hard; Adam took me to the location where the airport shuttle would come and get me and we sat in his Big Rhonda and just held hands and I could feel myself about to cry at any moment because as amazing as we were together, it wasn’t realistic that I would ever see him again. After all, he lived here in Costa Rica with his 3 dogs, a roommate and a crystal shop, and I lived in Utah with Zona dog, a house, car and a thriving business. How could this, whatever “this” was, ever happen? Part of me was 1 foot into fantasizing a future with Adam and the other foot was planted firmly in reality, though I didn’t really know where reality was at this point and how to get both feet in one place.
This trip to Costa Rica was supposed to be a big beginning for my next turning point. It was a kick off for me spending the next 5 months away from my business to figure out who I was outside of my company, and here something completely unexpected had unfolded. Was this situation with Adam a distraction from my self inquiry tour? Or was this situation part of it? That idea was comforting because it gave me a permission slip to see Adam again and maybe even come back to Costa Rica sometime over the next 5 months. A return to Costa Rica meant more time in a climate totally opposite than majority of my interests and wardrobe, so in that moment in the car with Adam, returning here still felt crazy to me.
I watched the large airport shuttle pull up along side us and I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. I felt like I was in a scene right out of a movie because we were both crying and holding onto each other and not wanting to let go.
“Baby, it’s time to go” he said.
And just hearing him call me baby made me cry more because I loved the sound of it. But I managed to pull myself away from his shoulder and I wiped my eyes.
“Don’t worry baby, we’ll see each other again soon”, he said. And though I had no idea when “soon” was or what those details looked like, his words calmed me as I watched the shuttle driver load my luggage into the back of the van. And now it was really time for me to go.
“I’ll see you soon” I said, with a confidence that came from somewhere in my gut, and I walked up the steps onto the bus and made my way to the back and gazed out the back window crying and waving and watching Adam and Big Rhonda get smaller and smaller in the distance. And when I turned around in my seat and closed my swollen eyes, I felt like I was settling into a new possibility for my life; one with love.
It takes two flights to get from Costa Rica to Utah, so I spent the entire length of those 2 plane rides daydreaming and perusing the photos in my Iphone of my trip that started on December 2nd. I saw a lot of love in these photos and I saw a version of me I missed. My travel self, who was in love with her moments and not worried about the past or the future. And how could it be that my ex boyfriend and I had been together for a little over 10 months and we’d barely taken any photos together, when photos were such a big part of my life. I also thought about my healing session with Adam a few days before and what he’d said to me. That there was a deep sadness in me that wanted to be felt and processed so that I could be free of it. I’d wanted to blame this deep sadness on 1 particular event or 1 particular person, but I knew that wasn’t fair. It was a lifetime of unprocessed events and traumas that I was always too busy to feel and heal. My head traumas, my amnesia, my sexual traumas, my disconnected family, and my confusing hyper sensitivity that had made me fearful of even being around some people. It was as though it had all compounded into a heaviness in me that no one has ever called out before Adam. I hadn’t sat with and felt through any of these difficult experiences; I’d just shoved them all down and away somewhere deep in my consciousness hoping the medication psychologists gave me would help integrate and heal the experiences, but that wasn’t happening. Instead I often felt numb and my old traumas would stay dormant in me, waiting to get triggered and lash out in ways that didn’t feel like it was me, often starting fights or even ending relationships. But Adam wasn’t afraid of my sadness or past, he seemed to welcome it all with an open heart and open arms, which is nothing I’d ever experienced before, and I hoped I was ready to heal myself because Adam was willing to join me for the ride.
When my plane touched down early evening into Salt Lake City, I knew things were about to get real very fast. My friend Brooke was in town from Vermont and staying at my house when I was away, so she picked me up from the airport. I spilled everything on the drive back to my house and she was the first one to hear about my vacation and the romance that had unfolded. Brooke was also an acquaintance of my ex, and in my excitement about my vacation, I’d forgotten to mention to her the part of the story that involved me breaking up with my ex the night before I left on my trip. So here I was bringing her into my vacation story at meeting Adam, and sharing that he was the reason I’d stayed a few extra days. I could tell immediately she wasn’t loving what I was saying, so I backed up and let her know that I hadn’t cheated on my ex, and even though my singleness had only been for about 4 days, I was in fact single when I met Adam. But that didn’t change Brook’s less than enthusiastic response to my vacation love story, so I shut up and we both went to bed at my house, me with my thoughts of Adam.
The next morning our friend Jessa came by the house to say hello and see both Brooke and I, and when I shared my story with her, once again I got a less than stellar response. I didn’t have a ton of experience with girl friends in my life, but weren’t they supposed to be happy for me? Weren’t they supposed to want to hear about the sweet moments I had? But that wasn’t happening; instead they left my house together, signing what felt like an anti-Harriet pact. Apparently I didn’t realize there’s an unspoken law governing the amount of time you need to wait before experiencing new love, and clearly, according to them, I’d broken this unspoken rule and I felt like I was being punished. So what now?
Do I stop telling people about what happened in Costa Rica? Do I pretend it didn’t happen? And now that I’m home, I wondered how I was going to go about sharing this experience with my ex. Was it his business to know? He had left me a very sweet message when I landed, saying he wanted to get together and talk and see how my trip went. So I wondered if he thought we’d be getting back together, which was the farthest thing on my mind, regardless of whether Adam and I ever saw each other again, I knew a future with my ex wasn’t going to happen, so I’d need to let him down gently because he was such a good guy, just not good for me.
It was now day 1 of my sabbatical and I still needed to pick up Zona dog from my mom’s house, so I showered and prepared to head up to Park City. I didn’t have a schedule or an itinerary for this “find Harriet” tour I was on, and it was oddly intimidating to not have to go to work, or have anywhere to be. I was free to be myself and see where that took me. My dog Zona was of course over the moon to see me, although I always knew she got plenty of love at grandma’s house. She jumped right into my black subaru waiting for me to roll the front window down so she could hang her head out. My spa was my next stop and I wondered how my vacation story would go over there.
When I walked into the spa I was greeted by warm looks and hugs and I knew this crew of people knew me well, because over the years of working together, they’d supported me through good, bad and crazy times. So when I opened with a quick update that I’d broken up with my ex the night before I left, I could tell they were relieved and ready to hear what happened next. And so I got to tell them all about Adam and how magical he was, and for the first time since landing home in Utah, I could genuinely feel support and happiness for me.
“So when are we going to meet him?” They asked. I had no idea.
“When are you going to see him again?” And I was wondering that too.
“Have you talked to him since you’ve been back?” And I hasn’t yet, which made me a little scared to share.
Was I telling them these stories and getting them all excited for nothing? Was Adam supposed to have skyped me or messaged me the night I got back or the next morning? Why hadn’t I heard from him? I was loving the energy of my conversations with the girls at the spa but secretly panicking a little that I had no idea where this thing with Adam was going, if anywhere, and I’d already pissed a few people off in the telling of it.
But what always softens my perspective on everything and relaxes me are treatments at Align, so I cozied into my own place to be a client and I got a facial and a massage.
I felt better about everything after my 2 hours of bliss and headed home to do...nothing.
Adam had taught me a little about the art of how to do nothing in Costa Rica, but how do I apply those lessons here in Utah? I wanted to write this very book, but still it felt too early, like I was still waiting for the plot to unfold, and I was curious where it was going to go. And so I went home to my adorable little house in Salt Lake City, let Zona dog out of the car and I could tell she was ecstatic to be back in her home, and she immediately headed for her nesty cave-like bed under my bed. I took off my jacket, changed into my favorite sweatpants and hoodie and crawled up onto my bed and placed my laptop on my lap to check my Facebook to see if Adam had reached out yet.
Nope, nothing yet.
So what now? I’d had my house cleaned before I came home, so no cleaning needed to happen, yoga was not for a few hours and everyone was still at work now, so I was at a loss for what to do with myself and all this free time. Had I made a mistake taking 5 months off from the spa? What were my interests now? I clearly needed to get interested in something to pass the time, and I was still too freaked to ski after knocking my front teeth out a few years ago, so I opened up my email to the 10,000+ unread messages there.
“I’ll clean this out someday”, I’d said at some point.
So was someday now?
What else was on my someday to do list?
The book. It was a huge item on my list, so I pulled up my document where I’d started the book last year.
What I’d written so far was a combination of my life stories and a fictional life, but it had been nearly a year since I’d written anything, and I realized I hadn’t written since I started dating my ex 10 months ago. Interesting.
I’d stopped writing and taking pictures when I was with him.
And though I wanted this 5 months to be all about me writing this book, it still didn’t feel like the time was right, so I closed the document and placed my computer to the side and just closed my eyes waiting for who knows what. And then my phone rang and I looked over and saw it was my ex calling, and all residual relaxation from my spa treatments disappeared and I knew I had to face this and tell him we were not getting back together. So I took a deep breath and answered.
“Hey K****, thanks for calling” and he didn’t even give me a chance to say anything more before he began yelling into my ear.
“I just had lunch with Brooke and she told me about your fucking trip. So are you fucking happy now? You hooked up with some random dude in Costa Rica? Harriet, you’re a fucking a liar and a cheater and I’m going to end you in Park City. Goodbye.” And he hung up. And that was that.
I felt a surge of emotions run through my whole body and I wanted to call him back and yell right back into the phone, “what? I’m not a liar or a cheater, we’d broken up!!!!! And what do you mean you’ll end me in Park City, I didn’t do anything wrong!”
But I didn’t call him back. Instead I heard my skype ringing and I saw that it was Adam calling me, and my eyes filled with grateful tears.
Even 2 plane rides apart, he could still come and rescue me. I picked up my laptop, placed it in front of me and rolled onto my stomach, and answered he call. And when I heard his smooth voice, every muscle in my body relaxed, “hey baby, how are you? I miss you.”
“Adam...it’s you! You called!” I exclaimed in pure joy
“Baby, did you think I wouldn’t call?”
There was still that piece of me that didn’t want to believe this feeling of pure love could be real, and a piece of me that still couldn’t make sense how we could be together; so yes, maybe a little of me didn’t think he’d call. But that was over now. There was so much to tell him, particularly how my ex had just called and blew up at me. And so I told him about Brooke, and Jessa, and about my ex, and how it felt like my spa crew were the only ones who seemed to support this me who was unfolding. “Baby they can’t understand your experience and they’re only responding from their own fear, so just let it be. What have you been up to? Do you like being home?”
He so quickly took me from my panicked response about someone threatening to end me and friends not supporting me, to wondering about things that felt much better to think about.
“I went to the spa and got some treatments which felt amazing, but I miss you and keep thinking about you, which has been distracting. I want to see you.” It was like I was casting out an impossible scenario into the Universe and daring the Universe to respond.
“So let’s see each other again” he replied with a nonchalant voice. “Ok, so do you want to come out this Monday and we can spend Christmas together?” That was in less than 5 days and the plan felt almost insane to mention. It was like I couldn’t control my mouth from spitting out the words, and I even surprised myself when I heard myself say it. Did I just invite this handsome hippie shaman to Utah? Yup, I did. And this idea felt bold and crazy, which meant it was right up my alley.
“Sure I’d love to come next week” and just like that, we had our next rendezvous out there waiting for action.
“Adam, that’s incredible! So you know, the airport is Salt Lake City and since I’m not working right now I have a ton of free time and can show you around. Want to buy your ticket and call me back?” I was ready to get this thing booked, so I could have something to look forward to.
“Baby I don’t have a credit card so no, I can’t.”
wait what? He didn’t have a credit card? What kind of a world did he live in? Flashbacks came to me instantly of all the men I’d financially supported over the years and how when the relationship was over, I was left with thousands of dollars of their debts as an unpleasant reminder.
But this wasn’t all the other men; this was Adam, but I could still feel my subconscious arguing with itself.
“So...you don’t have a credit card, ok. So does that mean I would need to buy your ticket?”
“Yes baby, if you want me to come.” And I could tell it was only me bringing the emotional charge to this conversation, as he was simply stating the facts 1) he also wanted to come 2) he didn’t have a means to make that happen 3) if I wanted him to be here it was up to me.
So what were my options here? I could say no in principle because I didn’t want to support another guy (which would just be me dragging in all my baggage from the past). I could say no in financial principle, saying I didn’t have the money, but truth is I did have the money, because I’d saved a lot for this 5 month hiatus. Or I could get out of my head and stop dragging in all my old stories about men and money, and just say yes to this adventure, which would be me saying yes to me, which is what Don Miguel Ruiz had told me I needed to do in order to say yes to love.
So 10 minutes later, I bought Adam’s plane ticket from Costa Rica to Utah and we’d be together for a little over a week, and that included Christmas.
Game on. I was meeting love straight on and saying yes.