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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leaving Costa Rica

In the next few days I will be writing entries based on my journal entries from Costa Rica. I'll cut through the personal stuff to bring you some quick and easy anecdotes. But before I do,
I wanted to tell you about leaving.

When I left Tokyo, I felt certain things, which I described in this entry: Leaving Japan.

Looking back at my confidently stated desire to melt into a sea of strangers and anonymity, I think it's ironic that my very brief trip to Asia was the beginning of both my Twitter account as well as my stated intention to write in this blog every day. I loved being unaccountable, but I wanted to share it with everyone. I was surrounded by literally thousands of people every day, and I hoped that they would never know my name, but I wanted them to know my virtually transmitted opinions of everything.

When I got back from that trip two huge things happened for me. I was invited to join Improv Asylum's Mainstage, and at the same time Three Hole Punch began to really take off. This new surge in my stage career called for even more virtual social networking. Suddenly I was updating constantly about shows and promoting events. I was "friending," dozens of new people a month on facebook after meeting them at shows. I began to carefully edit my life online. It makes sense, I thought to myself, if I want to be a public figure I have to live like a public figure.

If Tokyo made me want to be a Nobody, but somehow also made me believe I needed to start saving up for an iPhone*, my short time in Costa Rica was the opposite.

Mom and I stayed most of the trip in the town of Santa Ana. The town is so small that the man who runs the store across from Bar Amigos won't sell my cousin cigarettes because he heard about his recent heart attack. It was calming and comforting to see the same people every day on the street selling fruit or onions.

And as I began to feel the stability of a small town life, as I got used to not having a cell phone and constant internet access, the importance of those things melted away. When I did finally log onto facebook, I couldn't figure out what on earth I used to do on there all the time. Read status updates? Why? And I didn't update my Twitter account once. Not that I wasn't doing interesting things. "Flying through a rainforest canopy on a zipline," would have been a great update. But I didn't feel the need to broadcast it. I shared those experiences with the people (literally) near to me, and then later could share it with anyone who hadn't been there over a couple of drinks or dinner.

As I sat on the plane from Tokyo to St. Paul I wrote "As we rush through Nothingness I believe I can feel the weight of responsibility descending on me." I remember the feelings. It was like waking from a dream into a tumultuous reality.

But as I sat on the plane from San Jose to Houston I had a very different feeling altogether. It was the feeling of leaving home.
I will miss many things about my trip, mostly the people I met. But I also felt a deep ache in my chest for the things I had remembered about myself by living away from my normal life for ten days. A simple example is this:
I don't like eating junk for breakfast. And I don't like skipping meals, but how often do I brag about my ability to go all day on just some fruit and coffee? And I dislike how rude people are to each other in the city. And unlike many of the 20 somethings I know, I honestly like kids. And old people.

In Costa Rica I pledged that when I returned I was going to start cooking breakfast, or at least preparing a substantial meal the night before. I swore I would start spending more time on my porch and less time on the computer. It seems feasible still. After all, my sun burn still stings every time I move, reminding me of the past ten days.

But some day that sun burn will fade.

So what does it all mean now that I'm back? Well. Clearly, I'm blogging again. And I'm back on Facebook. And I can bet that after a few more weeks you'll see my Twitter account jump back into use. It's just the culture here. It's the most useful tool for forwarding the (night) job I've chosen.

But it's nice to know it's part of this particular culture; not my own essence. It's nice to know that all of those luxuries are merely tools with which to exist in a particular time and place. Removed from the culture, I give over the trimmings, but lose nothing of myself.

It just so happens that Costa Rica gave me more glimpses into myself than I have been afforded anywhere else recently.

So on that note... I have already looked into flights back to Costa Rica for mid May to early June.

* What on EARTH would I ever need an iPhone for? EVER?

1 comment:

kimnissiveness said...

When you go back, TAKE ME WITH YOU! I'll hide in your luggage or something.

When I'm back in Boston, can we have dinner or go for a drink to talk about that place?

And, incidentally, I gave up Facebook for a week. It's over tomorrow. And I don't know how I feel about it. But I do think in status updates, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and start with Twitter... which I hear is at least as addictive as Facebook.