Even when it’s a good change, it’s still change. It disrupts your habits (which can be good), relocates all of your possessions, and messes with your body and mind. And if you have pets, well, it can freak them out.
We moved into our new rental house this past week and spent the night for the first time on Wednesday. The house is beautiful, three bedrooms, two full baths, and about 450 sq. feet of outdoor living space on two floors. It is nestled in the jungle-covered hills outside of San Ramon, surrounded by banana plants bearing fruit, and in one of our favorite sweet spots in Costa Rica. And we live here now! Wow, right?
Right. But even with the “wow factor,” all change is stressful and it has been so for our little family. Paul and I seem to take turns lying awake at night, listening to all of the new sounds, both inside and outside of the house, knowing that they will soon fade into the background. We are sleeping in a 2nd floor bedroom with large glass windows and at night we look out at the stars and the lights of Puntarenas in the distance. We call it our “tree-house room.” Because it’s so beautiful, lying there wide awake is a peaceful experience, though we pay for it in the morning.
Most of our boxes are unpacked, and things are getting put away in a, hopefully, well-thought-out way, but we still wander from room to room, upstairs and downstairs, searching for whatever we are looking for at the moment. All the newness will take some time to become not-so-new.
For our cats, it has been stressful even more so. For the first 48 hours, we kept them in one of the bedrooms with their food and litter box, and we would spend time with them throughout the day. Tori stayed mostly on a shelf looking out the window, and Laura chose to hide under the covers, a little lump curled up under the spread. If I lifted the covers to pet her, she just wormed her way further down the bed where she could hide undisturbed. Tori, our normally ravenous cat, just nibbled on her food while Laura didn’t touch hers. Was I worried? Oh, yes.
It will be at least a week before we let the cats venture outside during the day (and we will always keep them inside at night.) Being kept inside is hardest for little Laura, who was a bit feral when she wandered onto our patio at 3 months old, and she has never known any life but the hills and trees outside our cabina. Laura is no longer hiding under the covers and has taken to running from room to room, meowing unceasingly for hours at a time to be let out. But now it’s day number five in our new house, and we are seeing signs of the cats beginning to adjust. Laura’s bouts of stressed-out meowing have become much shorter in duration and both cats are freely exploring their new home. As I lay awake in bed last night, I could hear them chasing each other up and down the stairs and from room to room. I could also hear them munching on their cat chow throughout the night and I woke up, happily, to empty food bowls for the first time.
Paul and I are adjusting also. The kitchen is pretty much set up, a huge thing for someone who likes to cook and bake, like me, and someone who likes to eat, like Paul – okay, that would be me, too! Paul is doing a load of laundry and looking forward to watching football this afternoon. I am going to lay out our newsletter and put away some more “stuff” (amazing what two people can accumulate in less than four years). Life is normalizing. Our cats seem calmer and that makes me calmer. Even they are developing routines, with their own preferred places to curl up and snooze during the day.
As the chaos of moving settles down, so do we. It’s Sunday morning, we have all the windows open, the sun is shining, puffy white clouds are traveling across the blue sky, hummingbirds and butterflies are feasting in the flowering shrubs, and we finally have time to just breathe. Over the last five days, we have slowly moved from being sad about moving from our cute little cabina in the woods, to being peaceful and content about moving to our new home. In so many ways, our lives at the cabina defined our experience of living in Costa Rica, and it was surprisingly hard to leave that behind. But we have now truly begun the next phase of our lives here. The dust has settled enough that we can see the beauty of what lies ahead.