The Hard Part About Living In Costa Rica

I meet her in the elevator and she says she recently moved to Costa Rica. I ask the Costa Rican ex-patriot for a story and she tells me that she is not a very interesting, site story-rich person. I whine, “Come on, you live in Costa Rica! Haven’t you seen some crazy wildlife down there?”

“Oh yes, monkeys, sloths…” and lists a few other fantastic creatures I have never even heard of. Then she stops. She has nothing more to say. I ask her, “What’s the hard part about living in Costa Rica?”


The hard part about Costa Rica:


It is not the U.S.

You have to adjust what your cultural expectations are and accept what is different.

If you want to go to Costco it is a 3.5 hour drive.

It is warm all the time, clinic unceasingly.


The last point surprises me since the Costa Rican tells me that before she moved there she lived in Los Angeles, a place I would assume to be a year-round temperature inferno. I want to ask more questions and take her picture but she disappears. I wonder if I have disturbed a famous actress. She was casual but had an undeniably photogenic presence. Speaking of which, I think I see a large, multiple bride wedding photoshoot taking place on the stairs.


I ask a man, standing apart from all the hubbub of mothers and aunts frumping their daughters gowns how many of these women are getting married today. He tells me they aren’t. It’s prom.

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I suppose they do look rather young. When I ask them what high school they represent they tell me “Pius.” My own alma mater! They are all junior girls, about to dance at the Renaissance Place. I instantly recall the picture of myself as a Pius junior attending the “Winterlude” school dance at the Renaissance Place.


Outside the elevator I meet another young woman in a nice dress. “Prom?” I ask her. “No,” she says. She is volunteering for the Autism Society’s Gala. “This is just my sister’s Sadie Hawkins dress.”


Near the ballroom I ask the woman in a nice hat how she became involved in the autism community. “I’m not,” she says. It turns out she is here for the Bel Canto Chorus’s 22nd Annual Fundraiser Gala. I can’t get anything right.

So is she.


To end my day, I watch resident artist Todd Mrozinski do an old school pre-camera photoshoot of Brittany-the-barista.  Before starting a piece, Todd rubs his hands together and whispers ” Hah hah hah hah hah” to himself.  As he paints there are a lot of noises that sound like a kindergartener scrubbing a marker against a rough piece of construction paper.  Two hours after the initial tracing, he is done.



Today at the Pfister there were five marvelous maidens and two dapper dandies preparing to promenade. I observed much fluffing and adjusting of sequined petticoats that resemble floor-length tutus.  Their parents were there too, health but in a separate camera flash filled cluster.  Initially, I was planning on just walking past them all, but then realized that it was impossible to just walk past them without also immortalizing myself inside of some stranger’s prom portrait.  So instead, I got out my camera and took my first picture.

The picture was of Tara and Carl, both juniors at South Milwaukee High School.  They met because Tara likes hanging out with the hockey players, and Carl is a hockey player.  They are in a long-term relationship, having been dating for six months now.  Carl asked Tara to prom by scrawling in the dirt of her car:  “Will you go to prom with THIS guy?” Along with this question he also included an arrow that pointed to the roof of her car where he sat atop, waiting to see what her response would be below.  She answered by buying him a pair of new tennis shoes and including this note: “I am so glad you walked into my life, sole will you kick it at prom?”

While Tara and her fellow females got the majority of the parental paparazzi fuss (posing in various formations on the staircase), the two fellas stood out of the picture looking, frankly, dejected.  The shorter one wondered aloud when he could get a turn to be included in a staircase shot.  After talking to him a bit I learned that he is a freshman and therefore lucky to even be dressed up for prom along with the others.  Freshman can only attend prom if a junior or senior asks them out.  London, a junior asked him out “with noodles.”  He’s known London his whole childhood, they grew up together.  One day she arranged her pasta dinner into a one-word question, “PROM?” and texted a picture of it to him.  He says he looks forward tonight to grooving-and-a-moving.


Tara & Carl
Tara & Carl

Now, a brief note from Anja Notanja:  Hello!  I am your new Pfister narrator. I am sole delighted and frambibulated to have promenaded into this new & spangled vocation.  I do not know what all is actually going happen as your narrator, so if I were to write another sentence after this one I’d probably just be fibbing something up.  Dingal zingo mumuti florex!


At last everyone got to be included in a stairwell shot.