We left Peggy’s on the 8th, a day before the Twin Cities Couch Fest’s first event. Our first Twin Cities host was going to let us stay four nights. We arrived and the place was great: newly remodeled, lots of space, a private sleeping area, an air mattress. We sat in our host’s living room and chatted with her for awhile.
Casper cooked spaghetti and the most incredible garlic bread I have ever had and we shared our dinner with our host. Casper and I played chess (still no win for me) and then went to bed. The next day was the early bird kickoff for the Couch Fest. We left the house around noon, after a lot of much-needed cuddling, in search of wifi and a grocery store. We spent quite a bit of time online and, afterwards, drove to Joe’s Garage, for the kickoff.
We were some of the first guests to arrive, but within an hour the place was fairly full and we had made some friends. We spent a good deal of time talking to a fantastic lady named Roseanne. She just joined Couch Surfing and has yet to have her first guests. 2010 was a hard year for her, she told us, and she was ready to make 2011 a joyful year.
We also met a few other folks, two of which were from Philadelphia and around our age. I forget their names, but they encouraged us to come to Philly some day and we definitely plan to. After a couple of hours, we were peopled-out and needed to head to the airport to spend a few hours with my friend Mar, from Washington. He had just flown in from Seattle (via Phoenix) and had two hours before he needed to catch a shuttle to Duluth, in northern Minnesota. I promised him that we’d get him back in time for his shuttle.
But I didn’t. In short, he missed his shuttle so we drove him all the way to Duluth. Details on that adventure (because that, as most of my mistakes end up being, is exactly what it turned out to be) shall be told in another post.
It’s three hours each way to Duluth so we didn’t arrive back in the Twin Cities until 5am. We hung out at a coffee shop for a few hours before ringing our host’s doorbell. We had texted her the night before that our plans had gone awry and we wouldn’t be home until the next day. We also tried texting and calling her before doing the door ringing.
We had obviously woken her up but she didn’t seem too upset. I took a shower and then we went to bed immediately. We slept until 3pm. At that point, the awkwardness began.
Our host asked me, “Are you guys happy here?” and I stuttered out that, yeah, we were totally happy with and grateful for the place to stay. She commented that is was late in the day, the real kickoff party was in a few hours, and other couch surfers would be arriving soon and sharing our space so she needed to “open that area up”.
A little bit later, she asked Casper a similar question and said that Couch Surfing is supposed to be about making connections and that it was supposed to be a given that we’d all go to the Fest events together, since she was our host. He said he understood and noted that we gone to the early bird kick off but had to leave early to get to the airport, which is why we hadn’t seen her there. And then we’d driven to Duluth and back, having really no other choice, and that we planned to attend that night’s event as well.
He handled it well, but we quickly decided that we would much rather explore the Twin Cities on our own and sleep in the car then stay at a place where we felt obligated to be social. We are independent visitors and solitary people but we’re also gracious guests. We were hurt and confused by the whole situation.
Our host had mentioned earlier that she was going to be out of the house at 8am the next day and we’d need to be as well – fairly standard procedure in the Couch Surfing world. Once we’d decided to leave, Casper spoke with our host, saying he needed to be able to sleep in so we’d be finding another place for that night.
We weren’t trying to be righteous or dramatic; we just know our priorities and as much alone time as we need sits well above having a comfy place to sleep. She took it well. We packed up and left in less than 15 minutes. I love how efficient we are! We can pick up and leave with all of our worldly possessions in less than half an hour.