Well, this has been an interesting trip to the states. For starters, week one, we went to tax court. If tax court doesn't strike fear in your heart, you must not have one. We've been anticipating tax court so long it's no longer terrifying. Just really really really really really scary.
Being in a courtroom is not about justice. You go in all wide-eyed, armed with the truth and the law, expecting fair play, expecting everyone to be interested in winning, but open to losing if that means justice will be served. You are immediately disabused of that silly notion. Being in a courtroom is all about out-maneuvering the other team. That's it. Unfortunately, you don't find out till after the fact. Too bad.
You are supposed to enjoy a little wiggle room when you don't have a lawyer.* HA! No matter how much you prepare, how much you read, talk to attorneys, watch C.S.I. and Boston Legal, read case law, memorize code, rules of evidence, regulations, you can never be prepared for what is thrown at you. And they know just what to toss because they do this all day every day. And get paid for it to boot. You are there once. Talk about 90 minutes seeming like an eternity. Anyway. It was an experience. And unless some miracle happens, like a big black hole opens up under tax court and it falls through to China where it belongs, they will be expecting a check for $1M from us.
Pardon me while I choke with laughter. Or something. Where am I going to get $1M? I don't even have a job. Look for a donate button coming soon to this blog. Maybe we'll have a raffle. Not sure what we'll raffle… oh, I know. How about the 700 pounds of paper we generated preparing for tax court?
*We did not have an attorney because no one would go with us. Our Friends at the Service (OFATS) hit us with a frivolous filing charge. If you have an attorney and the frivolous filing charge sticks, the attorney is sanctioned for representing scum like you. So once you have a frivolous charge, no smart attorney will touch you. We didn't need a dumb attorney. Clearly, we can be monumentally stupid all on our own. Even though Hal prepared the best he could, you could still hear the sound of our bones being crushed under the OFATS steam roller. It was not pretty. One day I'll blog about it, but not today. And it will never be funny.
Don't tell anyone. The minute you tell people you are in trouble with YFATS (because they are your friends, too), people take a step back and wonder what other kinds of un-American activities you engage in. Actually, they wonder how you could possibly be stupid enough to mess with Those Peeps and if it could possibly be contagious. (It's not. All our friends look at us and shake their heads.)
What I'm 100% uncertain about is my future. Our future. I'm 100% certain I'll always be poor (that deal has been sealed), I'll always be Morgan and Ryan's mom and I'll always be married to Hal because he will always feel too guilty to leave me after talking me into the aforementioned madness. This is what passes for stability in my life.
Hal just said he does not feel guilty, but he will always stay with me as long as I keep supporting him. What a relief.
The uncertainty was brought about by a collision of emotion. We love living in Costa Rica. We love the life, our quality of life is peaceful, quiet. We are more relaxed, are comfortable in the country, love speaking Spanish. We are making friends and I have fans (I sing in two geezer bands – did I mention that?) We even found a property we are excited about renting… Everything going according to some divine plan. Then we drove down to Key West. Uh oh. I don't know why, but, this time, we love being back here. This time has been intense and overwhelming.
The boys were out of the house all day everyday, biking around, going to the high school to see friends, hanging out at the track, at rehearsals for High School Musical which my friend Penny is directing. Hal and I hung out with Uncle Brian and Aunt Peg. We hung out with friends. I walked the entire island, at least an hour every day – I actually lost weight this trip which is a first.
The town seems friendlier this time. Maybe because, after tax court, everything seems friendlier. But Key West has lost the hyper edginess leftover from the bubble. It's friendly again. Everyone is broke, some desperately so*, but the mad glee is out of the eyes, the methamphetamine-cheerfulness off the faces. Noticeably fewer cellphones attached to noticeably fewer heads. Still plenty of denial, everyone still talks about real estate. But there's some acceptance in the air, and the frenzy is definitely gone.
*There have been five suicides in Key West the last year, an astronomical number for a town of 25,000 people. The bubble engulfed Key West: everyone not in a tourism-related business was in a real-estate related business. Fun on the ride up, devastating on the ride down. The ride hasn't stopped, but everyone, save a few realtors and sellers, have accepted the prognosis. Better, they know they are not alone having bet and lost the farm. Far from it.
Some adjustments are being considered to the current divine plan. It looks like we'll be coming back to Key West this fall for a few months. The boys are ready to take the GED, and more than ready for a social life. They can take a couple of classes at the local community college, get a part-time job, a driver's licenses. Hal and I can take a couple of classes ourselves, see what's happening on the job front. I'm going to be needing one big time.
We are not ready to say goodbye to Costa Rica. For one thing, this yearning hit us out of the blue. Hit me harder than Hal. He would stay in Costa Rica forever, no problem. It's me. And the boys, but mostly me. We have actual lives in Costa Rica… how could I want to live in two places so much? I don't know. I've always said I'm a nester and Key West was my nest for so very long. Now that the town's energy is quieter, more like it used to be, I'm drawn to it like white on rice. We've missed a chunk of our oldest friends' lives over the last three years. Suddenly, I hate the thought of missing any more.
We fly back to Costa Rica in a few minutes. It will be nice to be home. Living out of a suitcase gets mighty old mighty fast. Perhaps this whim will pass. But we won't rent the B&B property we found. Instead, we'll look for a tiny secure cheap apartment to rent where we can keep our stuff and our car and have a place to come home to.
Then, late summer, we'll head back to Key West for hurricane season and the fall semester. Aventura numero dos. I'm not 100% certain on execution of this plan, but that's how it's looking right now. Hmmm. I'm just wondering when life will get less surprising.