At 50, I learned to surf in the warm waters off Puerto Viejo,
A gift I’d promised myself if ever I flew the six hours across the ocean.
My birthday plus one day found me old enough to balance
Feet, thighs, hands and shoulders with a bouyant survivor’s jubilation.
On the day, the actually turning day, I wept for journeying so far,
Directionless so it was after all, despite the doing drive of delivery,
Tenacity and 1000 steps winding a mountainous book-lined stairway,
To the peak that, having surfaced from the well, revealed a bottomless sea,
The very one upon which I defied gravity and gods sailing to the sands
Upon a finned polyurethane prosthetic to landlocked quinquagenarians.
That trip, a peculiar humid mixture of venality–yoga and sexting–changed my life. I left some part of my former self in Costa Rica. I felt amputated, as if a piece of me was missing when I returned. This haunting continued for many months afterward, a sensation like I never left the Carribbean, where I spent four days detoxing the poisons of a lifetime of accumulated dissonance: misdirected dives into careers and relationships that formed an image I believed I was–not who I was.
On the fifth day, I descended from the jungle bungalow where I lay hammocked asleep with a book on my lap, recovering from four yoga classes a day: sun rise, late morning, late afternoon and late evening. Only on that day, my fiftieth birthday, after a morning yoga session spent weeping to the chant inside my head: “Where have you been? Where are you going?” did I go to the tiny boat village to dine at a local restaurant and wade in the clear waters of a native beach. Only then did I join the rest of the sea hut world layered along the shore, leaving behind the longing lover living in my phone, the headphones of seclusion, and the drowning jungle chorus of howling monkeys, cicadas and neon frog-lets.
The colors of the rain forest in phosphorescence glittering on the wings of giant blue butterflies or on the backs of lightning flash lizards delighted me as much as the colors of flesh, lips, hips and hair of lovemaking in my imagination. On a life-shift trip, I turned around.