Before I get to the unplanned journey, that began with a diagnosis of stage IV non-smoker lung cancer, it may be helpful to first talk a little about the past.
HP and I have been together since 1974. The summer of 1974, he graduated from Western State Colorado University, in Gunnison, Colorado. His plan was to come home to Michigan for the summer and return to Colorado to live and work. That was the planned part. The unplanned part was meeting me, JP, and falling in love. HP didn’t return to Colorado in 1974. Rather, we both fulfilled the Colorado dream in July of 1998, 24 years after than the plan. Grown children. Houses sold throughout the years in Michigan and Virginia. One dog and one cat. And our “stuff”.
Fast forward 14 glorious Colorado years, and the bug bit us. The “we have to move and explore bug”. May of 2012, we took the biggest leap ever and landed in Atenas, Costa Rica. Our adult children arrived in January 2012. Being renters, they were more free than HP and me. Four years on the market, our home in the Colorado wilderness sold. You see, not everyone enjoys the same things HP and I do. So, if I say we had 6 showings a year, I may be exaggerating. It was a miracle when it finally sold.
The liquidating and downsizing our “stuff” took only a few months. The most stressful time of the move was figuring out how our 2 kitties would do with the long plane ride. The kitties had their sedative, as did I. After 5 hours of “plane sleep”, we woke up in San Jose, Costa Rica at 5:30 AM. It was surprisingly easy to uproot, downsize and start an entire new book in our lives.
In the U.S., we lived a typical life… marriage, kids, careers, fancy cars, nice homes, travel for work, family and friendships. In Costa Rica, we lived a typical life of expats in terms of residency, acquired our driver’s licenses, we began paying into their public healthcare system (for a mere $200/month), I retired, enjoyed weekly yoga, daily swims, retreats, hosted biweekly massages, and socialized with friends. Our house and casita were the perfect environment. Our little casita became known as the “Zensita”. Retirement for me became all about health – food and extracurricular activities. We made a bunch of incredible friends. I mean, truly incredible!
From the boondocks in Michigan, to suburbia Washington D.C., to the Shenandoah/Blue ridge mountains in Northern Virginia, to lazy Florissant/Royal Gorge areas in Colorado, to Atenas in Costa Rica. We moved a lot. Friends and memories. HP and I have been and are blessed. It seemed, we were living the American dream, and then the expat dream, all totally planned.
So it seemed….