I entered my unlocked apartment and looked around. I had expected to find two girls from France, couchsurfers, Élodie et Florent. I had never met them before. They contacted me a week ago on couchsurfing.org, looking for a place to stay. I replied. I told them I would be happy to help them out.
They arrived yesterday while I was at work. I had left the door unlocked for them and the spare set of keys on the table with a welcome note. I had planned to come home last night but didn’t. By the time I arrived home at eight thirty this morning, they were already gone. A shame. It would have been nice to meet them. Well. At least I still had the opportunity to do them a favour. Except for the very generous and thoughtful gift of a bottle of red from Bordeaux and sweeet thank-you note Élodie et Florent left me, I would never have known that people had been and gone. My house was left exactly as it had been before they arrived.
This is not the first time I have put total trust into complete strangers and had the rewarding opportunity to witness how respectful and trustworthy people are. How awesome people are. I joined couchsurfing.org and airbnb.com almost exactly one year ago and I am not mincing words when I tell you that doing so has changed my life.
Changed my life for the very, very, very better.
« You left your door unlocked and let total strangers stay in your house? » « Isn’t that a bit risky? » « I could never do that. » « Oh. »
I’ve heard it all.
I…could write a book, and probably should…about the leaps of faith taken by myself and also by those who have stayed with me. The soul-quenchingly beautiful trust shared between myself and so many « scary and potentially dangerous strangers. » The incredible, amazing, sweet, kind, gift-bearing, honest people I have had the privilege to meet. The extraordinary lives I’ve had the unique honour to glimpse.
The underadvertised and astonishingly lovely side of humans that so rarely gets to occupy the headlines.
I forever want to keep my doors and heart open in this way. Dave, from my post “Five Foot Two,” had said that I am “narrowing my pool” by living this kind of lifestyle. Sharing my home with complete strangers. Some of them, brace yourself, men! How can I control myself if there is a penis in the room, after all!? Condescension aside, he is right. Who would tolerate such a lifestyle? Who would trust?
Well. The answer, I’m learning, is a HELL of a lot of people are capable of this level of trust. Me, for example. Every wonderful soul that has been a valued guest in my home, for example. And there have been a lot! In the past year, more than thirty guests through airbnb, and nearly twenty through couchsurfing. Not one bad experience. NOT ONE.
So. I’m narrowing my dating pool? Narrow away! I could never give up this very privileged opportunity of seeing the finer side of us miserable, terrible, mistrustful, awful human beings.
People are great.
I love my life.