A full day of departure nerves and uneventful airline hospitality, I arrived sweaty and tired at Newark Airport, cheering “I’ve arrived!” After a really long wait at the baggage carousel, looking like a gazelle fighting for a place at the watering hole, my luggage came tumbling out. (Ever since my luggage went on its own three-week vacation while I was backpacking in Africa, I’m fearful of its sense of independence.) The euphoria evaporated quickly when I realized the next part of my journey from Newark to Brooklyn with my behemoth suitcases was going to be more challenging than portaging a canoe up the Fraser River (okay, maybe not more challenging...). As former carry-on evangelist, there were more than few times when I envied other traveler’s easy-breezy carry-on-only ways. But after tackling 5 escalators, 4 elevators, 2 trains and 1 taxi, I finally arrived to meet my NYC host, #BadBrad002.
Thinking back a couple weeks, December 26th to be precise, I still didn’t have my NYC accommodation sorted and was spiraling into a mild panic as I joked half-heartedly about living under the Brooklyn Bridge, paper bag Princess-style. The exchange rate was killing me and I had been hoping friends, and friends-of-friends would know someone who wanted (read: willing to tolerate) a houseguest who would bribe them with cake since I didn’t want to become a victim of the next Craigslist killer. But with less than two weeks to go, my window of tolerance slammed shut.
Cringing in terror at my potential Craigslist fate, I posted on the Magnet Theatre Improv community group on Facebook, pleading for a lead to an affordable apartment/room/closet-under-the-stairs. A gallant improviser came to my rescue: Brad Benson (aka #BadBrad002, the irony of his Instagram moniker is not lost on me given my situation).
I know it’s not easy to have someone show up with two suitcases containing their entire life, who spreads their belonging all over the place and turns a normally spotless hallway into a messy closet (I've been the host on many occasions). I had anticipated ping-pong’ing between places every week or so to avoid outstaying my welcome. (Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days...). But Brad, also an avid traveller and one of the world’s best humans, offered to host me, a complete stranger from the Great White North, for my entire 3.5 week stay... in exchange for caring for his cat, Otis, when he goes out of town. Sweet deal!
Here is my new address:
Asking for help publicly to a Facebook group of people I don’t know isn’t my typical style. In fact, asking for help in general is not my strong suit. Asking for help can be daunting because it requires you to lower the drawbridge and admit that you need help.
But as I have started to do it more often, I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help... sure, not everyone has the best follow through on their offers, but their hearts are always in the right place. "It's a gift to help," my peer coach Rachel reminded me when I was starting this whole experience (and dreading putting myself out there to ask people to help me make connections with organizations). Yet when I reflect on my own response when someone ask me for help (i.e. warm fuzzy feeling), I don’t know why it still surprises me that people want to help but it does. It may sound hippie-dippy but I’d like to hope that the universe is returning some of the good vibes I shared over the years. And I'm ready to pay it forward all over again!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop
Nice to meet you...
I'm Andi (hence the blog name). I'm a travel aficionado, passionate eater, tireless explorer of internet rabbit-holes, and amateur thinker. Join me as I give it all up (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration) and go around the world on a mid-career "soul sabbatical" & year-of-learning to figure out what to be NEXT when I grow up. Won’t you grab a cup of chai and stay a while?
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