In April 2016, I started crashing on couches in unfamiliar places; the idea being that traveling alone with no agenda or companions would throw me outside my comfort zone and challenge my definition of home. Thanks to the help of some long distance friends, I’ve been able to visit cities all over the world and learn a few things along the way.
I’m often asked how I know the people who host me in my couch surfing adventures. Sometimes the answer is easy – they’re good friends or coworkers – but other times, it’s a little more complicated.
When I went to Denver, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was dividing my time between Jeremy, a writer I had briefly worked with in Boston, and Chris, someone I randomly met years ago in a hotel lobby and have stayed in touch with ever since (true story). Logic indicated this could be a total disaster, but my intuition was telling me these were good people who I could learn a lot from. So, I went for it.
And I’m so glad I did. I took a road trip to the Rockies with Chris; ate my bodyweight in tacos with Jeremy. I had drinks at a cool brothel-turned-bar while listening to a bluesy rendition of “Billy Jean,” and played a few intense rounds of Big Buck Hunter. I rode on the back of a motorcycle in 60-degree weather and sang along to show tunes at a piano bar.
That said, the best part of the whole experience was not necessarily the tacos; it was getting to know these guys better. We went far beyond the surface of small talk, and instead focused on what’s really important.
We talked about turning hard times into something good. About a writer’s duty to experience everything to the fullest – to love deeply despite fear – and use the lessons learned to help other people struggling.
We talked about control having no role in love; that trying to mold someone into something they’re not is hurtful for everyone involved; that it’s important to feel at peace with the possibility of not “having someone.”
I walked away from this trip feeling lighter and happier. Was it the altitude? Maybe. But I’d like to think it was that intuition I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known a person for years, days, or the few hours that you spent talking in a hotel lobby. Good souls recognize other good souls. And when you’re lucky enough to share a connection with someone else in this world, it’s important to keep them close, even if they’re miles away.