Only five weeks since I have come home from my journey, and it seems like five years. The last few weeks, I have watched the sun disappear and flood waters play Russian roulette with my home city. But in the midst of this awe-inspiring reminder of nature’s, well, nature, my travel experience, and mindful education pursuit; have served as a beacon reminder of impermanence and pause.
During my travels, I saw so many cities and none were as bittersweet and impermanent ques as the layover cities. Layovers were planned commas or times where I thought I would gather my thoughts to prepare for the things to come. I was pleasantly surprised.
My first queue was Los Angeles. While I was there, I planned to focus on not spending money and exploring as much as fine-tuning my supplies. I pictured running errands and sitting in coffee shops to plan out my first part of my journey. I had set up a couch surfer stay with one person that backed out last minute and luckily another surfer stepped up. This fellow picked me up from the airport and we had dinner at a cafe where we talked about, believe it or not, mindfulness in education. My host works with youth camps to help them achieve better things in their lives through mindful style education. He seemed to struggle with some of the same anxiety issues as I do and his methods of calming these included yoga, meditation and exercise. We had many things in common and some things that were not common at all. After dinner and talking, we stopped at a local bar near the ocean where we watched some attractive European graduate students sing karaoke.
As a couch surfer, I have come accustomed to seeing strangers homes and their lives. It’s such an adventure to meet people in such a vulnerable way. You learn their strengths and weaknesses very quickly and see habits that you may or may not agree with. With this individual, I did not read his profile fully and was shocked to realize when I got to his kindly shared home, it was a one room situation. I quickly told him I would seek out a hotel but he offered to blow up a mattress for me. After looking at the prices of even hostels in L.A. and talking more with my host, I agreed to the mattress. People have stigmas about things like this and I know it was out of my comfort zone but it turned out fine. My host was a proper gentleman and despite me not sleeping very well and a few other habits I had not read about, I learned a valuable lesson about myself, the kindness of strangers, and what I am willing to do or not do again.
After my awkward stayover, my host went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable. He drove me all over the city to get last minute things for the trip and helped get me get a little snapshot of L.A. In a short amount of time, we drove through tough LA neighborhoods where I saw brightly colored old vintage homes from the 50’s with bars on every window and the sun chipped terracotta paint. We stopped by the seashore and took cheesy “jump” photos. We drove through the cliffs of LA past beautiful million dollar homes and stopped at the top of a cliff to take photos with a tree.
What I thought would be a pause was actually not. This was more like a pre-adventure where despite awkwardness I learned so much and grew. The more I look back on this, the more I realize that all waiting times can be whatever you make them out to be. You can travel wherever you are and at any moment if you keep the mindset and when you do, the adventure will find you.