October 16, 2008

The perspective of the rain...

Three years ago we took a trip to Costa Rica, our first there together. We backpacked through the country, catching buses, staying in cheap hotels....it was magical.

Midway through the journey we arrived in a mountain town, high in the cloud forest, called Monteverde. We arrived by way of a rickety old bus driven precariously through the mountain roads. We got into town around noon or so and quickly found rustic and affordable lodging. We unpacked a bit and prepared to explore the area in the afternoon.

I don't remember exactly where we were when it began raining that day. Had we already left the room? Had we made it into "town"? I honestly can't say. But I do remember that it began to rain with such force and fury at 2pm in the afternoon that it felt as if the whole sky might indeed fall in upon us. The air was replaced by sheets and sheets of torrential rain released out of some invisible faucet above. It seemed that there could not possibly be that much water in the entire world.

People retreated from the streets, the bright afternoon darkened. It felt oppressive. And we wondered how long it would continue. But then, about 4pm, like clockwork, the faucet was turned off, the sun came out again, although muted by the clouds that area is known for, and it was all over.

We found out quickly through locals that in May this was pretty much standard for Monteverde, every day there would be these short intense rains beginning around 2pm. We just needed to plan accordingly. So, the next day we planned around the rain, had a fabulous morning, and by the time the rain hit we were happily enjoying Costa Rican coffee in a coffee shop and marveling at the beauty and power of nature.

It's all in the perspective isn't it?

A week and a half ago we were holed up in a luxurious hotel room, enjoying a blissful, romantic babymoon. (ironically, payed for almost entirely with rewards from our credit card, the one we used for many of our IVF expenses) We were well fed, well rested, thoroughly romanced and our internal emotional buckets were full for the first time in a long time. We laughed at our usual worries and talked about the things to come with a sense of peace. We were happy and content.

Then we returned home and within days the first rumblings of thunder began.

Mr. Spicy had decided to accept an offer at another company and after returning from our babymoon, gave notice to the team of people he had helped build and lead for six years. And a whole host of complications surrounding that decision came up like the first drops of impending rain - that we were not expecting.

The tension continued to build around his job stuff, our finances, future concerns we had been able to laugh at only days before.

And then, we decided (well, Mr. Spicy decided) to take in a cat. Seems harmless enough right? She had been crying and crying at our back door for a couple of days, she wanted in, she wanted petting, she wanted food. She was obviously not just another neighborhood alleycat. She had been with people before. Mr. Spicy began bringing her tuna on the deck, and before too long she had moved in - complete with a litterbox and premium cat food. I checked everywhere for someone who might be looking for her, but had no luck. We decided to keep her "for now" and talk about maybe trying to find her a good home after we had vaccinated and spayed her. The best laid plans....as they say.

Well, a few nights ago she began having diarrhea, and it got all over her back end. Mr. Spicy, trying to be helpful, grabbed a spray bottle of dog/cat cleaner and another spray bottle of what he assumed to be water to clean her up. He got her all clean, things seemed well, we went to bed. When we awoke the next morning we found the kitty curled up in a ball on our couch, growling in pain, we couldn't touch her without her yowling. I then noticed the cleaning supplies from the night before and realized that Mr. Spicy had sprayed the kitty, not with water, but with a solution I had mixed up for cleaning our kitchen. It was water, vinegar, and multiple essential oils. The essential oils I used were precisely the kind that are toxic to cats if ingested in large amounts. We feared we had accidentally poisoned our kitty.

We rushed her to the vet hospital for two days of IV fluids, multiple medications, much hand wringing on our part, and literally hundreds of dollars spent. In the hospital she spiked extremely high fevers and it became clear that we may not have had a role in her sudden illness at all. She may have simply had a severe infection. Regardless, we have now bought and paid for a cat - full on. We felt sick at the thought that we may have accidentally harmed her, we felt worried and sad for the little kitty who had so sweetly chosen our home to invade, and we felt anxious and ambivalent about all the money we were spending - money we really didn't have to spare - for a kitty we had only known for a week. We never regretted taking her in, doing the right thing for her - but those two days really took their toll on us.

During that same 48 hours, the truck that Mr. Spicy drives to work, the 19 year old monster of a truck with a broken door lock, the truck we knew we would need to replace in the next year - well, it sort of died. In reality, a major component of the truck died, and it is simply not worth it to put the money into it to replace it. But, if you can imagine - we were dealing with uber-expensive sick kitty in the hospital and the thought of needing to replace a vehicle, basically all at once.

And the rain came pouring down.

It felt very much like that oppressive rain storm our first day in Monteverde, I couldn't catch my breath, there were too many things happening at once - and too much we simply didn't have a buffer for, financially or otherwise. I sunk quickly into feeling sorry for myself, for us. Why was all this happening at once? How could we possibly take on more debt just as everything was changing? Soon, Mr. Spicy would start his new job, soon we will have a new baby - now we have to buy a car, pay vet bills, and we still have to pay for baby stuff and a doula, and Christmas....and and.....anxiety ensues. And the torrential downpour just gets louder.

But then? Then we remembered some "emergency" money we had stashed away. Not enough to fully cover the vet bills, but enough to make a big dent. And, probably more importantly, we remembered we were not alone. I called my dad who has an extra car he doesn't use regularly and asked if we could borrow it for a little while to give us time to buy a car. Not only did he gladly and generously offer it to us, but he made it clear we could borrow it for as long as we need to save up for a good car, a car that will be safe and dependable and actually fit our needs. Which was such a huge relief that I began to cry.

It is such a typically "American" and an extremely indulgent problem to have: the need to buy a car. I mean really. I wish I was someone who was able to simply figure out how to do without one. But for now, with Mr. Spicy working so far away and needing to be able to travel to different offices throughout the day, and with my nanny work - we aren't able to creatively work out another option just yet . And yes, how ridiculous to cry over a car, over maybe having to purchase an old, high mileage vehicle because that is all we could could afford right now - "Oh noes!" I know, I know - it could be so so much worse. And I feel sufficiently ridiculous about it. But knowing we can wait, wait till Mr. Spicy is comfortably settled into his new job, wait till our little Poblano makes his appearance, wait till we have a bit more saved from bonuses and tax returns to make this large purchase more reasonable and less rushed - well, it was like the rain just suddenly stopped pouring. And the sun came out. And I could take a full breath again.

And now? I look back over the past week and feel a bit silly and embarrassed. Somehow, I let this strange and admittedly stressful sequence of circumstances send me into a dark and fearful place. I am not surprised I ended up there, not surprised I possibly became WAY more stressed out than was necessary, not surprised that I allowed these events to invade my psyche and convince me once again that I could not rest, I am not safe, the world is dangerous and unpredictable, and we are all alone in it. I am not surprised. I am dismayed. I don't deny that we had a stressful cocktail of events all at once - I don't blame us for letting those effect us. But now that it has stopped raining, or at least for the most part - Now that our new kitty (her name is Tallulah by the way) is home safe and sound and just as sweet and loving as ever - Now that my dad and stepmom have reached out to us in this generous and loving way........

Well, now I can see that it wasn't the rainstorm meant to drown us, or ruin us - it was simply a short and powerful storm that has cleared up relatively quickly. We weren't drowned, we didn't lose much more than money and an old truck that was on its way out anyhow - we are ok. Sure, as Mr. Spicy makes this next big transition, it will be hard - we will both grieve the people he is leaving, the people he has known for 6 years, we will both feel anxious about the new expectations and new environment for him. He will be under some stress as he navigates his way into this new world. But we are ok. He is ok. Our kitty is ok. We are all ok.

I know part of my heightened reaction is due to pregnancy. And even if it isn't - that's my excuse and I am sticking to it! But I also know that some of it is just me, just us - and how we respond when things go off track for us. We have friends who face enormously stressful situations with so much more grace and so much more ability to simply shrug and move forward, doing what needs to be done. We get there eventually - but not without much gnashing of teeth, inner-soul-searching, and moaning and rolling on the floor. Ok, maybe not rolling on the floor...but you get my drift.

I just wish sometimes we could remember the perspective of that second day in Monteverde, the knowing that the rain would not last forever, was not going to harm us - that we would be ok. I wish we could find ourselves in a cafe, sipping coffee, waiting out the rain, and not losing sight of the beauty and power all around us in the midst of it. I wish we more regularly were the ones helping others out of the rain rather than needing that help so much for ourselves.

I am grateful that the rain was as short as it was. I am grateful for the lessons we have learned even in that short time. I am grateful for the perspective I have this morning, and that it didn't take me longer to get here. I am grateful we are fortunate enough that these were our worries.

Maybe next time I will not be so frightened when it begins to rain. Maybe next time I will remember.....


The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

So sorry about the crazy week! I can certainly relate to things that should be manageable becoming paralyzingly overwhelming. For me at least, recognizing those triggers and those fears (and my over-reaction) tends to eventually move me deeper into healing from old traumas that tend to rear their ugly old heads in times of stress and remind me that they still need more attention. Not that that makes the torrent any more fun, but at least I know it's giving me another clue as to where my psyche needs me to go next. Sounds like maybe you're having a similar experience?

I hope this week brings peace and rest and healing. Love...

Denise said...

And you have this post to remind you next time. I've been told many times that it isn't what life hands you that's important, it's how you react to it, what you do with it. But that is such bullshit when you are in the middle of feeling like you're drowning.

I think your reaction, although completely justified in itself, probably was heightened by pregnancy hormones. I know I have a tendency now to completely overreact to things when they aren't going my way. I'm not saying you overreacted at all, but feel free to use the hormone excuse as much as you want!

annacyclopedia said...

I tried to comment but Blogger ate it, so I'll just say that you are doing great getting through every torrential downpour, although I'm sorry it's raining on you at all. Hang in there, Spicy - you're doing perfect!

Phoebe said...

I wouldn't underrate the effect of pregnancy hormones on your ability to handle stress. It's not an excuse, it's a fact. And a lot of people are under financial stress, so yes, you are not alone.

I was in Monteverde about 20 years to the day. I spent Christmas there in 1988. I spent it at the reserve itself with a bunch of other Peace Corps trainees. I remember one of the folks at the reserve serenading us on Christmas. It's the only place I have seen a moonbow, a rainbow caused by the moon and the mist.