There are times in every young freelancer who insists on a transatlantic lifestyle she cannot afford and does not have time for’s life where she messes up her scheduling and budgeting quite badly and ends up full homeless for a month. Fair enough. It could happen to any young freelancer who insists on a transatlantic lifestyle she cannot afford and does not have time for. Maybe it has happened to you. (This is all of our lives’ situation, right?) It certainly happened to me, and has thankfully finally ended. But I learned a few things from my 20+ days floating around from charitable friend’s couch to charitable friend’s couch, and I would like to share them with you. Surf’s up, my friends, and the wave you are riding is juuuuuuuust a touch too short for your body to comfortably stretch out on.
Brushing your teeth and having a shower become some of the nicest parts of your day.
It’s not that the rest of your day is so bad, it’s that this part is soooo gooood. When your regular bedtime/waking up rituals are BULLDOZED by waking up in a strange place with a neck cramp and feeling like you can’t move until other people wake up so you’re not annoying everyone by scuttling around the living room too early in the morning, having time to yourself in the shower and clean, nice brushed teeth is a real humanity-returner. Hot tip: as a couch guest, NEVER shower in the morning when people are trying to head out to work. You will be smothered in the night.
Bribery is still a thing and it still works wonders.
It never hurts to come with a gift and to leave another when you leave (handwritten thank yous are also helpful), and being a good sport in general while you’re there is helpful. If your host wants to watch a movie, watch a movie with them! If they want to have a night of drinking, looks like you’re buying the first round. I mean, don’t let them get out of hand or anything, you’re a guest not a dancing monkey for their entertainment, but being demonstrably grateful to your host is just good manners, however you do so.
If you are tired enough or drunk enough, any couch is a comfy bed.
Of course if you are hungover or caffeinated enough, none is.
You’re a bit of a bummer.
I think most people feel like their life is an elaborately managed charade and that they are seconds away from the total disintegration of the life they have built for themselves. I think this because a lot of people seemed really uncomfortable with how homeless and poor I was, as though my misfortune was catching and they would somehow fall into the pit I was also in if they hung around hearing too much about it. I felt fine, for the most part, and they continued to live busy and productive and housed lives, but if you are in a bit of a rut, make sure you’re venting to close pals who are going to be okay commiserating and laughing with you instead of bummed out by your situation.
Some people are good idea couches and some people are bad idea couches
Good ideas: old friends, people you used to live with, friends who owe you a favour, friends who love to travel, rich friends with loads of space. Bad ideas: men who clearly think this will somehow lead to having sex with you in some way, uptight people who love routine, party people who use their living room til 4am every night, strangers.
Virginia Woolf knew what she was on about.
A room of one’s own really is necessary to feel like a stable, sane, productive person most of the time. I’m going to try very hard to not end up homeless again for longer than a week. Living out of a suitcase is hard enough when you’re worried about keeping that suitcase out of the way of the actual people who live where you’re squatting. That being said, my time away from any home at all gave me such an appreciation for the things most of us take for granted: a warm bed, space to hang around nude in (Crucial, guys. So crucial.), a kitchen we feel comfortable using to cook or not cook as the case may be. I will never resent the first of the month ever again. Sure, I’m losing roughly 50% of my income in one fell swoop, but I’m basically investing in my own sanity, and I think that’s worth it.
Ahhh. All better now. If anyone needs me I’ll be… well, on my couch, but by choice this time.