Thursday, July 16, 2009

on the open road part IV

It has been a month now since I set out on the road. 35 days, to be exact.

It all started at a local CouchSurfing barbecue, when my new CS friend Josh and I decided we needed to pack our bags and set out. All we knew is that we wanted to utilize CouchSurfing to meet as many amazing people as possible in as many places as we could afford, and that we needed to attend Tentsurf 2009 in Colorado. I have to say, quite honestly, that my life was changed.

I had some expectations, not a whole lot of money, no idea what awaited, and just carried the hope that this trip would be everything I wanted it to be. Now that I am sitting peacefully in my parent’s living room here in Seattle - the day after leaving the open road - I finally have the chance to piece together all that this month has meant to me.

There was camping at Tentsurf 2009 with a few hundred other surfers from around the world, where I was blessed enough to get to know at least a dozen people very well, and dozens more by their face and their smile. Within that event was a community like I had never seen… the sharing of food, water, and life stories. It was like nothing and everything belonged to me at the same time. There were community breakfasts with more than twenty people, conversations that changed me, and friends that I have no doubt will be in my life for years to come. There were drum circles around an open fire, thanks to Coyote Dave and his open heart and willingness to share the instruments that he makes. There was a wedding between two surfers, Anthony and Niven, and we were blessed enough to participate in it as friends and campers. There was a conversation between Houston’s CS City Ambassador Taryn and I that lasted hours on end, comparing and contrasting the roads of our lives and where we came from. Most of all, and most moving, there was deep and unconditional love, fueled by our spirit of surfing and our passion for our global community.

I spent the next three weeks visiting new hosts, and meeting up again with those I had come to know at the CS campout in Colorado. From having dinner at the monthly Salt Lake City meetup, to laughing on the front porch in Portland with Ben and Holly, to live music on the beach with my host Kasondra in Santa Cruz, to a barbecue with our host Rose Marie in Montana, to watching live jazz in the park and pub crawling with the local Denver group, it was entirely a CS trip.

What I walked away with, most of all, was a more important understanding of what CouchSurfing really is… the opportunity to know others and have others know you. The real you. The chance to learn to be and fall in love with who you are, unapologetically, and encounter others who love the person you are as well.

I have only been CouchSurfing since January, but I can safely say that I am a surfer for life. I can only hope that I get the chance to host - even more than I already have! - in my humble abode in Idaho! Forget the free place to crash… I have made friends for life on this trip.

And the world is welcome on my doorstep any time.

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