In 2011 I couch-surfed for nearly 3 months throughout San Diego.
In 2012 I couch-surfed for (technically) 10 months in Los Angeles.
So, for practically a year of my life I was sleeping on borrowed surfaces. Sometimes I had the pleasure of having a bed, other times I was on an air mattress, but for the most part I was on a couch & smack dab in the middle of my friend’s living area.
- I learned how to clean up after myself.
When you are living in the middle of someone’s home, especially in a borrowed space, it is essential that you keep your stuff clean. I developed a nice habit of putting everything back in its proper space quickly. If I got it out, I put it back. I also managed to keep a very organized suitcase. I’m thankful for this habit as I now have my own space & I can keep it tidy.
Also, I do my dishes, for the most part, right away. While couch surfing, I would tend to do any dishes in the sink, mine plus my host’s. Now I have a hard time going to bed with anything dirty in the sink.
- I learned not to keep too many valuables in my car (the hard way).
I had some electronics I was intending to return in a box on my front passenger seat of my car, an old iPhone that had been reduced to a glorified iPod in my middle console, a few CDs and some other random things in the front of my car. In my back seat I had gear for work, and in my trunk (hatch back) I had my suitcase & a few other random things. I was woken up around 2am to the sound of my car alarm just outside the window of the place I was staying. Thankfully it was a quick smash & grab and they only grabbed stuff they could reach from the front passenger window, but I got lucky. Now I know not to keep valuables in my car!
- I learned to show thankfulness.
Most (not all. I sadly regret) places I stayed I left a thank you note & sometimes flowers or something else. It wasn’t much, just a token of appreciation. I still have a long way to go to being consistent with this, but I’ve started, and that’s half the battle, right? I do have a stack of blank Thank You cards for the holidays which I hope to fill out this evening!
- I learned that journaling would have been valuable!
Yeah, you read that right, “would have been.” Which means I didn’t keep a journal during this process, or a list of where I stayed. I wish I would have. It would be nice to at least have a list, but a journal documenting how I got there, what it was like, etc… would be nice to have to look back on. There were many times where a place to stay came at the very last minute, and those little miracles should have been documented. I doubt I’ll go through an experience quite like that again, but as life progresses, I hope to get better at documenting my life. Perhaps this blog will help?
I’m sure I learned a lot more in this process, but these are the big lessons that stick out to me in this moment of retrospection. Perhaps if I think of more I will post a “part 2” to this post.