How a Modern Nomad Finds a Place to Sleep

I pulled into the dark driveway and parked. There was so little lighting around the house that when I turned off the car I couldn't see the ground between me and the front door, wherever the front door was. I was fairly certain this was the right place. The address matched, but that didn't make me feel any more sure. My host said she would leave the door unlocked if I was going to arrive while she was out, but she never got back to confirm that's what she was doing. I grabbed my backpack, locked the car, and then used the light from my phone to illuminate the ground. It didn't help much and I stepped cautiously, not sure if I was walking on a path or a badly neglected garden. It didn't feel like a path. I remember thinking for a brief moment that I hope there are no dangerous Floridian snakes on the ground because I'm wearing sandals and I can't see anything. I walked up to the front door. A dim light illuminated a dark wooden door. Was this the right house? What would I ask if someone answered the door? I'd probably say, "Hi, is there a Kathleen here? No? Is this..." wait, what was the address supposed to be again? I took my iPhone out of my pocket and looked for the email that contained the address. Ah, 2990. OK, if there's no Kathleen here I'll ask them if this is #2990. I rang the bell. It rang loud enough to hear it from outside so if there was someone inside they surely would've heard it. I could see through a few windows that there were some lights on inside, but otherwise the house was mostly dark. There was no indication of movement. I rang the bell again. Still no answer. I tried knocking. Still no answer. Do I just walk in? That feels kinda weird. What if this isn't the right house? What if the door is unlocked and I just walk into a strangers house? I checked the door to see if it was unlocked. The door opened easily. "Hello?" No answer. "Hello, anyone here?" Still no answer. I remember the description on the house listing mentioning that two German Shepard dogs lived with her. Surely they would've heard me by now. Why weren't they barking? Was this the wrong house? I stepped into the hallway. "Hello?" Still no answer. I look to the right down a hall. There's what looks like a fence to keep babies out. But it was a high fence. I tell myself that's probably for the dogs. I look left and there's what looks like a living room. There's only one light on. I look around the front door for a note that my host may have left, anything to indicate that this was the house that was expecting me. There's nothing, just an empty old-fashioned table. I walk quietly through the living room and imagine for a moment that this is the wrong house. I'm wearing a black jacket and carrying a black bag. I could easily be mistaken for a robber. I continue cautiously exploring the living room and find old photos on a table. There's lots of pictures of a young girl and what looks like her younger brother. There's also lots of black and white photos on the wall. They look like old family photos. Are these pictures of my host as a little girl? Is this her family? I can't tell. I don't even know what my host looks like. She used a photo of her dog on the listing. I continue towards what looks like the kitchen. There's a light on inside. As I approach, I imagine someone standing in there with their back toward me. What if it's an elderly person and I scare them so much that I give them a heart attack? How horrible would that be? I turn the corner to see if there's anyone standing in the kitchen. It's empty. Pieces of paper hang from the cabinets. I can't read them in the dim light so I look closer. They're all recipes for organic dishes. That reminds me that the listing description mentioned my host was into organic food. That makes me feel a little better. It's the first clue that I'm in the right house. I open a few of the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator. More organic stuff. If this is the right house, I should also find a bedroom that looks empty or at least one that looks like the guest room. I walk back through the living room to explore the hallway, the one that didn't have a fence blocking it. It's dark, but there's an open door at the end of the hallway with a lamp on inside. I walk towards the light, looking for any indication of movement inside. It's empty. There's a nicely made bed and a lonely chair pushed up against the wall with an acoustic guitar sitting on it. The lamp that guided me into the room is sitting on a big table and next to the lamp are a set of keys. Two single keys on a keyring with a green carabiner attached. Those are probably the keys for the house that my host was going to give me when I arrived. That was my second clue that this was the right house. I don't yet feel comfortable settling in, so I take my backpack with me back to the living room and put it down next to the couch. I guess I'll just wait here until she comes back. I go into the kitchen to get a glass of water and then return to the living room and plug in my laptop. I think about what a strange experience this has been, walking into what feels like a total strangers house and trying to feel OK with it. I decide that I should write down this story while it's still fresh in my mind, but just as I start typing I hear a door open from the far corner of the house. A woman's voice calls out, "hello?" I reply, "Hello!", feeling a sense of relief that someone else was expecting a stranger here. My host appears through the other side of the kitchen and enters the living room to introduce herself and her boyfriend. Two white German Shepard's follow on their heels. We chat for a while in the kitchen over hummus, chips, and homemade Kombucha. After showing me where things are and explaining how to use the washing machine, they invite me to join them for some live music at a local bar. I respectfully decline. As they head back out, I retire to my bedroom to write this journal entry about my fourth experience using AirBNB, just one of the tools I use to put a roof over my nomadic existence.

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  1. What a wall of text! But interesting 🙂

    I’m going to be doing my first AirBnB experience over xmas, staying at someone’s house in Melbourne for 3 nights while they’re out. It’ll be quite interesting, I’m sure.

    • The wall of text was intentional; that’s exactly how I had the experience! 🙂

      I’d be curious to hear about your first AirBNB experience after you have it.

  2. Hi Raam,
    (I’m a new subscriber -your journals are my gift to myself this holiday season). I see my Buddy Alan Howard is already here, so, unlike your experience above, I already feel at home. 🙂

    I’ve pondered what it must be like arriving at the home of strangers where they have established routines and preferences. I’m interested to hear more as you settle into the AirBnB experience.

    • Welcome, Barry! Thank you for subscribing. 🙂

      What I’ve found during my travels with all the people I’ve stayed with, whether through AirBNB or just through connections that I’ve made here through my writing, is that my hosts always seem to have the mindset that people are generally good, that everyone isn’t out to “get you”. We’re all one big family living here on this planet called Earth and embracing that reality is an amazing thing.

      • This is such a big shift in mindset. I can see the difference in my friends who think the world is hostile and those who think it’s friendly.

        I think one step towards the friendly side is to stop watching so many movies that are based on fighting.