I sit here silent, pondering, wine in hand, music coming from my never to far away bluetooth speaker and for the first time in months i am letting all of the emotions process….the good and the bad. i’m mostly contemplating how to chronologically compile the past 6 months of my life for you all, quite possibly the most epic months of my 25 years on this planet. so bear with me if i venture off course, but that is all apart of the journey, not the destination.
I not so recently relocated to America semi against my
will. I had a more than horrible relationship that ended and I took shelter and
comfort in the home of my family whom I had never appreciated more. Their support and open door policy was
the first of many generous and beautiful human interactions that I would
encounter over the next 6 months.My
gorgeous childhood friends opened their lives to me again and our fire still
burned as bright as the day they first entered my life. And so the healing
process began. For when the rubber hits the road, as my lovely father likes to
say, I came home. After years of proving something to no one other than myself,
I had gotten so lost down in the rabbit hole that I couldn’t even see the
forest for the trees.
painful memory during this process of relocating that really stands out, was
receiving what was left of my worldly possessions in Australia. The boxes
arrived, dumped in my parent’s driveway, ripped apart and tattered somewhat
like my spirit those days. As if having my things burnt and thrown on the
street wasn’t enough…. (SIGH)However,
what really, really got me, I mean the only time I sobbed in this whole experience
was opening the boxes and breathing in the distinct smell of what I had called
home for so long. The aroma filled my nose and the memory part of my brain
engaged and lit up with the faces of the dearly beloved people I would not see
for a long time to come. I sat on my bedroom floor and I placed each clothing item
under my nose. I inhaled like a stalker in some hot girls underwear drawer and
I sobbed till my eyes were swollen. There is nothing more powerful than smell
or music to provoke a memory or in my case a very confronting reality. So I
sniffed things, read things, and held things. I let myself have those hours of
emotion and then…. I washed EVERYTHING. I soaked that shit in my mum’s fancy
detergents and fabric softeners and I washed every scent of that memory down
the drain. It felt good. Then I sorted it all into a bedroom that my parents
helped me establish. Again thank you parents. I made the room my own. Finally,
I exerted every ounce of my being into planning my solo trip around the United
States of America. I started campfires by myself, I pitched tents alone, I
hiked mountains solo, and I slept at complete strangers’ homes. And I lived to
tell the tale. Now you are probably expecting me to say, “ I am woman, hear me
roar”. So, for the satisfaction of the trained narrative prediction I will say
it, “I am woman, hear me roar”!
Now, I have done a hell of a lot of travel but
I have never had an adventure that meant so much to my overall identity and
perception of the world. I covered national parks, cities, towns, wildlife,
bars, campsites, BUT the thing that made the trip really stand out were the PEOPLE.
The oh so beautiful, wonderful, unique, giving, creative, hopeful, generous
beyond words PEOPLE. You want to hear about my wild stories?Sure, there are plenty of those. I’m
sure you also want to hear about my romances, there were a few of those too.
However, the thing I want to really talk to you about are the people that made
me whole again. Here is my story, woven from the uniquities within each lovely
couchsurfer of the USA. Enjoy.
My first experience with couchsurfing was a
zestful couple whom had just moved to Atlanta for work. The girl opened her
home and personal life to me. She confided in me about her sick and dying
father, whom I have continued to think about for the remainder of this trip. Her
strength and resolution in life was amazing. She also introduced me to a great
band from Seattle that accompanied my loud belting of tunes for many a mile on
this road trip. She was truly a free spirit and a beautiful one at that, you
know when you encounter one.
I caught up with an old lover who I had
long thought the world of but, the funny thing is time changes people and
perception. The person I once thought of as a saint had now become a huge
religious hypocrite. It’s funny because him as a devout Christian hooked up
with me whilst having a girlfriend. The hypocrisy is insane. One word. BYE.
I had the best meal of my life in Lafayette,
Louisiana and the most eager couch surfing couple welcome me into their home.
He was a professional diver and his girlfriend a passionate and driven artist.
Their talent felt hidden in the pockets of this southern Cajun town. They were
recommended to me by two other couchsurfers whom I met in New Orleans; what a
small and wonderful world.
I stayed with a gifted musical family in
San Antonio, Texas. They had talent and generosity busting from the walls of
their home. They also were my first introduction to the large soul that Texas
exudes. Sitting in their kitchen in the wee hours of the morning watching the
mother sing, her son and her friend play “Take it Easy” by The Eagles, I thought
how lucky am I ? How incredible is this? I felt so appreciative and SO HAPPY to be surrounded by such
beautiful human beings and I felt excited/optimistic for what was to come. I
think that was truly the first time I felt excited for my future in America.
I crashed with the zaniest and bighearted
couple in Austin, TX. They had the cutest dogs and the quaintest home to date.
The life they had built for themselves was something to be proud of. They
pulled together their mates for a night on the town and made certain they
showed me the best that Austin had to offer. They made a damn convincing
argument at that!
I stayed in an epic mansion in Santa Fe, NM
where the artist hosted me last minute and I had a private bathroom and
swimming pool to myself. Not to mention the most incredible dog to human
relationship I have ever witnessed. Accompanying his dog was also his
incredible artistic talent. The generosity in this home and the creativity made
me feel inspired to begin my own creative outlets again. My host took me on sunrise
and sunset hikes all so that I could get great photography.
I stayed in an RV with no electric hookups
and no toilet for 3 nights in Taos, NM. Here I helped a local artist and his
family with his organic farm. Although, I learned what it meant to burn your
own shit! Literally… the views from this place and the solitude that it
provided were enough for me to leave a small part of my heart in New Mexico.
I couchsurfed with a Mormon family in Utah where
I got all the inside gossip on the religion versus the fundamentalists. I have
to say I quite possibly learned the most here. I being an atheist, saw the
insides of a new religion that I previously had not understood. The generosity
and open mindedness that I experienced allowed glass walls to shatter for me
and also for me to help shatter those glass walls for them.
I hiked to the top of Angel’s landing in
Zion National Park and I sat there and I thought, “fuck me” I have gone from 0
– 100 in no time. I looked at a surrounding vista that appeared almost
prehistoric…. I expected a T-rex to pop out all the while. I had this
incredible soul that I had met in Australia sitting by my side. She joined me
for 10 days of the journey. She has magnificient photography skills see this
I had my car broken into in San Francisco
and I found almost everything that was stolen from me in a bush repacked
neatly! Ridiculously good energy or luck whichever you call it.
I picked up 3 hitchhiking boys and I camped
with them overnight on HWY 1 in California. My father’s voice still ringing in
my ears about the danger yet, here I sit writing about the experience. They
were wonderful- albeit a bit lost and possibly not that original in terms of
trying a little hard to recreate a Jack Kerouac lifestyle. Yet, they were good.
Yes, they slept in parks, they ate all my food, they smelt like shit, but they
were genuine humans and they were in search of an adventure just like me.
I stayed with the most liberal family in
Seattle, Washington. They restored my faith in how Americans raise children.
They both met in the Peace Corp serving in Africa and their laid back,
intelligent demeanors were company suited for the queen.
I ventured into Montana where I identified
with the state more than anywhere else I had visited. The wide and open skies,
the beautiful scenery, and the lovely people… I was sold! I stayed with a unique couple in
Whitefish where I explored the corners of Glacier National Park. I also met up
with a hiking guide for the park who reached out to me because she saw my
favourite book was ‘Shantaram’ on couchsurfers. She turned out to be the most sincere
individual I encountered on the trip. Wholesome, happy, well- travelled, and
intelligent. She had great energy and a lot to teach/give.
As I left Whitefish headed to the small
town of Livingston I remember being overcome with ecstasy (the emotion, not the
drug ;) ) I passed Flathead Lake and I felt for the first time that I knew who
I was and what I wanted. I could visualize my future and a damn happy one at
that in my home country of the US of A. Once I got to Livingston, I stayed with a pilot whom I had so
much in common with in terms of intellect and maturity. His views on life and
his background married with that of mine and made me realize yet again that
there are plenty of people like me in America. He also served as a great
companion exploring the nearby national park and the alcohol selection in town.
I explored South Dakota solo diving into
the Badlands National Park and seeing the over commercialized Mt. Rushmore in
action. I even had a random
gentleman pay for my dinner and leave his number with the waitress. Humans are good.
No I never called him.
I saw the drinking and cheese culture of
Wisconsin with a giving and friendly Brazilian expat. He cooked me a
traditional Portuguese dinner on my first night of arrival. He left his iPad
for me to use knowing that mine had been stolen and he made sure I felt
comfortable to treat the refrigerator and the kitchen as though it were my own.
I stayed with the most charitable host in
Pittsburgh. She took me on a bike tour of the city and she let me use her
computer for my interview. She knew nothing about me yet she gave me her
computer password and tablet to use. Not to mention we shared a cheese platter
so we were pretty much best friends by the time I left.
I joined in on my host’s kickball game in Philly
and I sang karaoke with complete strangers. I also smashed my face into the
biggest Philly Cheesesteak I could find. Happiness can be found in food.
In Vermont, I saw a friend I met in Spain
almost 8 years ago and she opened her home to me for 5 days. We spent time on a
local farm where I fed baby sheep and I hiked mountains. I bought the best
thing of the whole trip, a big thick wooly sheepskin, and it will be my housewarming
gift to myself wherever I move. But to see how well she was doing for herself,
so secure, so confident in her life choices, I felt proud to know her.
So I say to you: humans are the most
incredible energy you can harness. I gather all of my inspiration, motivation,
and hope from other human beings. Taking yourself away from your comfort zone
and being met with an individual that makes you feel comfortable is what couch surfing
is all about. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about where the platform is headed
in terms of growth and losing the original philosophy however, I can honestly
say that the people I met, laughed with, hiked with, danced with, and more were
some of the most incredible human beings I have met to date.
It is with no hesitation that I profusely
thank each and every one of you for the fundamental role that you played in
helping me identify with America and in helping me heal. You all in your own
way made me feel inspired to create again. You made me feel zany and free
spirited and those are both key indicators of my personality that I had lost.
You also made me feel an intense passion for the future I was yet to see as I
now have friends all over the United States.
So to each and every individual even if you
were not mentioned above know that you are so influential in my life and I will
NEVER forget you.