Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beaumont, TX: Mrs. Beaumont

Miles since last blog: 26.6
Miles Total: 2055.6

Route

Wow, I find at the end of each day that I must be so selective with what I write or I'll end up jabbering on for days, and you don't have the time and I'm tired. Should I tell you at length about entering Texas, the boy at the gas station with the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Rebel Flag tattoo and the sleeveless camo shirt, rain, 2000 miles, crossing a bridge on the interstate, etc, etc? Really, the list goes on and what I don't write will only come back in fleeting memories if I am lucky enough to be revisited by it at all. My note taking skills are waning in the new video world I have entered, although with my technical problems the footage is going nowhere so . . . I guess no one wins there.

No, before I go off on some tangent for too long I have decided what I will take from today; the reason I love couchsurfing. There are many great things, showers, free beds and new friends, but probably the most important thing is the way you see a city. If I stayed in a hotel, that's exactly what I would do, stay IN a hotel. With surfers, the town is open, they are compelled to show you things and entertain you, they want to host you. Again, this alone would be worth my time, but what really makes it amazing is how incredibly intimate the experience is, not with the person necessarily either, but the relationship the person has with the city. We each live in our own small worlds, each distinct and crossing over constantly into each others, but they are our own and we experience them differently. When I couchsurf, I don't just see New Orleans, or Richmond, I see M's New Orleans, I see B's Richmond. I'm privy to experiences that I could never have had even I had lived there for some time, the private world of a person and their city, an intimate delving into one persons niche and the block it's been carved from.

It occurred to me tonight. I always knew I experienced more with CSing, but as I was on the roof of a closed art gallery looking out over the port and up at the moon, sitting with a local beer in my hand and a Czech beer in my host's, I found it was something much deeper. We bring something to each other in these experiences, something far more than tourists and guides or accommodations and showers, we bring each other lives we cannot have. We bring goodness of hearts and hope and something to dream about and work towards. While the rest of our life settles into a routine, a chance couchurf comes along and rocks our boat reminding us that there are things beyond our little ship, even beyond our seas, things worth seeing and feeling. And it can be something fantastic and life long like a tattoo, a proverb that follows you, an experience which haunts you or a friendship that burns short but intensely, but it can also be something benign like a shared love of a banished menu item at Jack in the Box, either way it is something that forever brands your mind. A city becomes a person, a life, a feeling to you and not simply a place on a map. I have a relationship with the places I have couchsurfed, they are not just places I slept.

There are days, or minutes, or miles when I step outside myself and see this all from another persons perspective and ask myself, "Why would anyone do this?" and "How did I end up here?" and then I laugh out loud because I realize how ridiculous it is. Nights like this always bring me back though, I don't really know anymore how I ever thought this was a good idea. It's not, it's a terrible idea, I must have been a very special kind of idiot to dream this up and then commit to it, but I do know now why it's worth doing and the answer is so much more than just these experiences. Now I think that I was very fortunate to be that special idiot.

2 comments:

Kathy * KD * Kathleen * KatyLou said...

I'm sure you know how envious I am of you. I would never say that you're a "special kind of idiot", because you are honestly the most intelligent and thoughtful person I know. And not thoughtful like, "Wow, you remembered my birthday! Thanks!" Thoughtful as in contemplative and deep. Thoughtful in a global sense. You have a talent for conjuring up the good spells that make people feel humane and reminiscent. THAT is what I am envious of. That and you getting to be a gypsy. :)You are destined for GREAT THINGS Skipper Von Zipper. Love you, stay safe. -Cousin Kathy

Enchanter said...

Keep walking =)
and writing.