So my friend Brooke Allen, the “pizza interview dude,” as I keep referring to him, recommended that I join Couchsurfing. I may seem mobile, but I don’t really travel all that much. And when I do, I usually have somewhere to stay. So I don’t necessarily need to couchsurf. And when I’m “home,” as in my “own” apartment, there isn’t much space. I’m happy to share what little space I have with friends but I don’t quite know how I feel about opening up my home to strangers. That said, I’m not totally opposed to the idea, either. But Brooke thinks it’s a great site, a great way to meet interesting new people and a great way to network — all wonderful things. So I signed up.
It is, yes, one more social networking site in that it requires upkeep: put up a photo, fill out a profile, link to people you know and…keep doing that shit over and over, just like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Etsy and…oh! This BLOG! Sigh. Where’s the log cabin that’s off the motherfucking grid? Anyway!
So I signed up for the site and then joined a few of their groups: New York City, Writers, Burning Man, etc. They each send out group posts and I chose to receive the weekly digest. I used to be on the weekly digest for the NYC Burning Man email list and wound up switching the individual emails. It means dozens of emails a day, sometimes, but it’s better than missing out on stuff!
It came to my attention pretty quickly that the New York City Couchsurfers meet up once a week and I thought I should check out one of those meet-ups. It took me a few weeks but I ventured out last night. I started at a pre-“Revival Meeting” dinner, where the people I met explained that that’s what the meet-ups are called. Revival was the venue the meet-ups were held in the past; now they’re somewhere different every week. Hmm, makes sense… The group at the Thai restaurant was very international and a mix of New York residents and visitors: French, Ukrainian, Brazilian, Thai. It was an interesting collection! And they were trading stories of nightmarish or hilarious Couchsurfing experiences: Bed bugs! Dog shit! Toilets that don’t flush! Nude men you have to share a bed with! Mandatory ménage a trois!
After everyone finished their dinners, we strolled across town to Affair on Eighth. I ordered a pint of Stella that only cost $4, so I was instantly enamored of the establishment! The group seemed somehow more homogenous, perhaps because I didn’t speak with everyone. The age range was also homogenous, primarily 20- to 30-somethings. I wasn’t feeling especially gregarious or even all that motivated to meet people so I mostly observed, except for the guy who I overheard describing Spa Castle. I told him I’d been there and that it was awesome. But that was the extent of our interaction. Then a musician started singing and strumming his guitar; live music is not all that conducive to conversation.
One young man asked someone something about Burning Man, so I chatted him up a bit. He said he was a recent resident and not even yet official, that he was waiting to take an apartment until he got a job. Even though he’s fresh out of college, he seemed to be the only person I related to much…
I left after only two beers and those two brief conversations, not quite sure that Couchsurfing is for me. But we’ll see. Maybe next time I write about it, it’ll be after I’ve hosted the world’s most interesting house guest!