Many times when I’ve been couch surfing, I have gotten invites from hosts offering their couches, and not actually did I need to write requests asking to stay with people. And all the times, I’ve been hosted by wonderful people; in Barcelona, London, Gdansk and Edinburgh. I’ve so far never experienced a problem neither with hosts or surfers, I never met anyone from the couch surfing community that I didn’t get along with or felt I had nothing in common with. Someone asked me just today if I’m not scared trusting strangers, but really, you learn from experience – so far I’ve only had good experiences, hence I might trust strangers even too much, I start opening up rather easily to anyone I meet. But so far, I have no reason to hold back! So – this weekend I figured to step it up a notch, to challenge my hosting abilities and also my surfers social skills. I decided to actually invite a whole team of roller derby players from Denmark, the male national team who had a game against Sweden this Sunday.
I saw the request and simply told one of the guys they could crash at my place if they’re not too spoiled and can spread out through the hallway. Later on I found out that a friend of mine was having a huge party at their house the same evening, and he was also welcoming these strangers with open arms. I feel fortunate to have these kind of sharing/caring people in my social context too! The thought that often strikes me when I get an invite from a host is at first that I’m lucky and blessed, but secondly this thought is always coloured with suspicion – why would a stranger offer me a place to sleep with no personal benefits from it? And that’s the thing, what kind of person invites seven people to crash at their place on a Saturday evening? But the community around couch surfing is obviously built by a bit overly social people, and hosting is a special experience, which at the beginning feels a bit like an obligation, like “you should host if you wanna surf further on”. But the more I host, the less of a hassle it becomes, and the more I actually enjoy it. Not just because I get free pizza and beer for an evening, and it doesn’t really matter whether we’ll be friends in the future or ever see each other again, it’s just great to have a new constellation of people in my own home. Though, it’s really up to oneself how much effort you wanna put into hosting, as the reasons for surfing also differs from person to person.
Inviting a group of people like I did this time, was a bit like surfing – I instantly became a part of someone elses social sphere. This happening in my own home is just as interesting an experience as if when I’m put in a new locality. The energy within these four walls changes when you’re used to being alone and then suddenly are crammed together with seven completely new human beings, at least that’s what they become in my world – brand new! It takes a few hours to start orientating yourself around these new constellations and personalities. To let them react to arriving in a new place and let myself associate them with familiar structures to keep an order to myself. I think it’s something most people actually do when we’re introduced to someone new, to feel secure, I guess, it’s easier to associate them with someone you already know and then accept and treat them according to what feels familiar. Once you’ve orientated yourself and the stranger past the insecurity of meeting someone new you slowly loose these associations and just let the person be itself. And just as you’ve gotten used to having these people around, slightly get a grip on their different characteristics and sense of humour and start seeing them as individuals, they go back home. I guess it’s kind of the same wherever or whenever you meet new people in a secluded time and place schedule. What I’ve noticed is that I’m getting faster and faster at opening myself up and reaching out to strangers with every time I meet someone new. But – I also notice, and maybe that’s a good thing, that saying good bye become less and less sentimental. And THAT used to be a huge frigging issue for me. I spend whole nights crying while I was in India and my dearest Hofit went back to Israel and I was on my own again, the loneliness so much more intense after meeting people I really got to love. Same thing with old friends and lovers, passing and moving on. I used to mourn the loss of people, but the couch surfing experience has taught me a lot about myself in relation to both me and others.
The essence of living is that everything changes – everything comes to an end. But that mustn’t necessarily be a bad thing, cause that opens up for other opportunities. It’s just that we’re mostly associate change with something uncomfortable, something that’s being taken away from us. People will always come and go, and the world is such a small place which, in the funniest ways, bring people together if you need it to. I must say, I appreciate living in a globalized, technological era, staying in touch or just keeping an eye on someone you still care about is much easier today. Allow yourself to love strangers, whether they just entered your life or left it a long long time ago.
So how did the epic battle between Swedes and Danes go? My Danish friends kicked Swedish butt, by all rights!