Couch Surfing and My Hip Dad

My dad got home from a fishing trip today and saw that there was a random car with an out of state license plate in the driveway.  After putting his gear down and giving me a hug he says, “Are those couch surfers or do you know those people?”  I love that this is my dad’s response, and he couldn’t have said it any more nonchalantly, like it didn’t matter that there could be two strangers sleeping in the extra bedroom in his house.

I introduced my dad to Couch Surfing after living a very active CS life in San Diego.  My apartment was always filled with strangers from other parts of the world.  These strangers, or instant friends, became more than just weekend guests.  They became a part of my world, some staying for extra days, weeks, months, and it was beautiful.  I made some very good friends at the time, by hosting and meeting other local hosts, friends that I still talk to and friends that I will stay connected with for the rest of my life.

This is the part of Couch Surfing that I wanted my dad to see.  I wanted him to see that CS is not a community full of freeloaders and people that want to steal your precious stuff.  It’s about being comfortable with yourself, your surroundings, and letting other people into your life.  It’s about opening yourself up to others which is something all of us should practice.

So, after hosting a frisbee world champion, a couple of dudes passing through trying to avoid the busy city, a couple of girls that just wanted to go on a bike ride in the forest, and many friends of friends of friends my dad has become part of the Couch Surfing community without even realizing it.  He is now used to and comfortable with meeting new people, and his generous hospitality has extended beyond the realm of family members.  He has grown to trust his daughter and her judgements (I hope!).  Above all, he has learned the importance of hydration and making new friends.  Much of my happiness and knowledge of the world comes from meeting new people, sharing lives, and sharing homes.

That is the type of thing a person carries with them forever, whether they are on the Couch Surfing website or not.  We learn to share from the moment we come into contact with other human beings.  Remember what they taught us in school, “sharing is caring”.  Thank you dad for being so open, accepting, caring, and way hip.

11.20.12 – What do Couch Surfers, Bikes, and Mead Have in Common?

I can’t possibly explain how grateful and how happy I am to be a couch surfer.  I have been a proud member since January 27th, 2009.  Almost three years now!  The Couch Surfing community has significantly changed my life.  Not only do I have instant friends in any city I travel to, but I have learned to connect to the cities I find myself living in.  I was lost, but with Couch Surfing I am found.  I belong here.  It’s days like today that remind me I have a place in this world, that remind me how truly good people are, that remind me of the beauty that grows from the relationships we have with each other.

Enough of the sap.  Let’s get down to the good stuff.

I woke up slightly bitter that I wasn’t able to see my family for Thanksgiving, but I decided to make the most of my time off in Columbus, OH.  I found a bike shop called Handy Bikes on the North side of campus.  The owner agreed to loan me a bike until Friday morning for $40.  I hung up the phone amazed that I was able to find a bike so quickly and that I was actually going to have a bike for three days.  A bike!  It is one thing I was not able to fit into my backpack for this six month tour I am on.

I hopped on the bus, picked up my bike, and rode to the main Ohio State campus.  I wandered into some buildings looking for a huge lecture I could join, but I think it was too late in the day for those.  Plus, I had no idea in what building I could find such a thing.  Eventually I wandered into an Annie Leibovitz photography exhibition.  She has taken many recognizable and famous portraits. All of her work is stunning especially her photograph of William S. Burroughs.

William S Bourroughs

When I was finished starting at walls I met Bill, another couch surfer, at Northern Market for some delicious Indian food.  With full bellies we headed to the climbing gym to stare at some more walls.  I have never met Bill before, but after a test run on belay we decided we could trust each other.  If I fell I knew he would catch me.  What a wonderful feeling.  A stranger, now a friend.  That happens all the time in the Couch Surfing world!  After the climb, we met Gwen, yet another surfer, at Northstar Cafe.  I am in love with Gwen.  She is hilarious, energetic, and big hearted.  She wants to meet every single couch surfer that exists.  Is that too much to ask for?!  Next up, bar hop!

At the first bar I ordered a dark and stormy, my favorite drink as of lately.  It just looks so pretty in a highball glass.  Gwen turned in for the night and Bill and I wandered over to Brothers Drake the local meadery.  The bar was full of wonderful people, cute dudes with dreadlocks, and of course, mead.  As I sipped on my apple pie I became delighted that I still had a six mile bike ride ahead of me.  I also some how managed to receive two Thanksgiving invitations from people I don’t know in a city I have never been to.  I thought about how lucky I am to feel home anywhere I go.  My family spreads beyond conventional definitions.  It grows every time I meet some one new, every time a couch surfer walks into my life, any time I connect with another person.  I am thankful not only during the season but everyday of my life.