Wednesday, August 20, 2008

17 years later and a person you’ve never seen before (Aug19, -31days)

Which of you people believe in the positive power of mankind? Who thinks that people are inherently good and that bad behaviors are a product of their environment or training/upbringing? Which of you can have enough confidence on the above to open your door to a complete stranger and let them in, cook them dinner and let them sleep for a night in your place (even if it’s on your couch)?

Not many eh? Well I did it for the first time this weekend. I had a Couchsurfer (if you don’t know what that is check out http://www.couchsurfing.com/­­) staying over at my place. Miss Lena Park, a 23year old girl, from Calgary Canada, originally from Korea, working as an intern at Merck Pharmaceuticals in Darmstadt, Germany… Leap of faith? Uncalculated risk? Adventurous spirit? I am not sure but I admit at the beginning I wasn’t feeling at ease. Who knows how this could have turned out – and why would she trust me to stay at my place? There are plenty of crazy people to go around in this world, why take the risk and have one in your place?

Well, I am here writing, and actually not only survived the experience but even enjoyed it. (now now don’t get any funny ideas about what happened) I enjoyed the fact that from worried and fearful, I managed to relax (even if it was near the end) and feel comfortable with the idea and the person. I stretched myself…

My old school-mates helped: Yiannis and Dimosthenis who by coincidence were “driving by” from Greece on their way to INSEAD France. Now, I am talking about people I hadn’t seen since middle high school, so I guess that’s about 17 years ago. They rang me on the phone – I was expecting them - I ran down the stairs to see a car with Athens number plates stopped on the pavement on Rue de Lausanne. Out come two familiar figures, 17 years later not much has changed between the 3 of us: more kilos, less hair (at least on the head) since Yannis has shaved his and Dimos has grown a beard…. Familiar faces: remember what I wrote on the Close & Real, about that “fuzzy place”? That comfortable place where we keep our childhood memories? Well, two people from that fuzzy place popped out and jumped into my current crystal-clear Swiss reality. Strangely enough, 17 years later, after years of working, studying and living in different cities, I still felt there’s something that connected us. Something that transcends the fabric of time and is probably glued together with the adolescent, unrefined paste of our childhood school years…

So how does this work now? 4 people, one host, 3 travelers, 1 person I don’t even know under the same roof. Pasta with ready made sauce and a bag of cold beers seemed to do the trick. And despite differences in race, age, language and background we all just felt at ease, comfortable and without any worries. No need to impress, no need to pretend or fake. Just be there. Don’t discount what I am saying here: You can spend days, months, years to finally feel relaxed and secure with people you know and see often and we managed to do this in one late afternoon…

All I am trying to say is that I just got a glimpse of what I am expecting to experience in the next 3 months of travel. I am travelling alone and that makes me slightly nervous. I’ve always been surrounded by people I know and even if I am always open to meeting people it’s so different to do it on your own. I can’t wait to feel again that nervousness, that slight not-at-ease feeling. I’ve spent too much time lately feeling comfortable. Too much time protected behind “calculated risks”, it’s actually time to see something really new. And as one of you said (Christina) “you’ll never reach a new shore unless you are brave enough to loose sight of the one you left from” I can’t wait to loose sight. I can’t wait to see the new shore.

I guess a 12-hour flight to Buenos Aires as a starter will do just fine...

2 comments:

George "Teriax" T. said...

The strange feeling of see-ing old friends in your place (your own bubble if you like, the place you feel comfortable, where your "house" is) is a funny feeling....

I have felt it and only then you realise that "hold on, there is another place that i have people and friends that care about me and i miss them!"...

It is a funny feeling because you think you are in a theatre: you and your friedns are on the stage, while (in your case) Geneva is nothing more than a background to the stage...It is the moment that Geneva goes back, gets minimised and the people you have missed so much get elevated in your personal life, because they ar emore important...

And that is when you realise that the place you stay is your "house" not your "home" !!!!!
:)

(hope i made sense!)

penguin said...

They say that the only true friends we EVER have, are the ones we made @ school, because those friendships were based on smiles, chasing and water-throwing rather than money, cars and career-chasing.

I, for one, felt pretty much like how you did. And thank you for your hospitality. Friend.