If I were a better writer, or a good poet, I would write Couchsurfing a love sonnet. Scratch that, I would write the people I have met on Couchsurfing a love sonnet, but you get the idea.

This is because Couchsurfing has been primarily responsible for Alternate Universe/Alter Ego Kristina’s success in establishing herself in France. I believe without Couchsurfing, I would have spent all my savings on hotels and crappy meals finding a studio apartment with hiked up royalty prices that was lonely and isolated. I wouldn’t have already made friends or connections here, and I certainly wouldn’t have had a family lend me a bike for the year out of the kindness of their hearts.

Estelle’s husband Jean-Pierre really wanted to take this picture, mostly because the bike he lent me for the year says American Comp on it.

For all intensive purposes, I am now an Adult in France. Capital A. I have an apartment. I have a cell phone. I have a bank account. I have a bus pass and a library card, and I have bills to pay at the beginning of every month. And for the first time in my life, I am doing it completely by myself without my parent’s support. It feels good knowing that I am able to do this, and it makes me feel self-sufficient.

That being said, also I believe that self-sufficiency is a myth, one that Americans very much like to feed into. Unless you are hunting for your own food out in the woods by yourself, you are not actually self-sufficient. You depend on social contracts that continue to make pieces of printed paper viable currency, you depend on payroll to send out your monthly paycheck and the banking system to make it readily available to you. You depend on your family to help you out in sticky situations, and your friends to listen to you when you’re upset about your family.

It feels great to know that I am able to do things on my own, but upon reflection I haven’t really done them on my own at all here. I have had tremendous amounts of help, basically from strangers who were just awesome enough to take me in and show me the ropes. I can say with certainty this experience is far, far better than the one I would have had struggling by myself (not to say that type of experience doesn’t have its merits as well, as I discovered in Paris). Regardless, I find that happiness is best when shared.

In fact, I dare say it’s what makes life worth living.

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