I was amazed (and still am) by the kindness of strangers.
The first person I ever stayed with was M. in Tallinn, Estonia. I was her first CouchSurfing guest and she was my first CouchSurfing host (not counting the person I stayed with in Berlin, who I had met through friends in Amsterdam). My brief stay in her small apartment, meeting her friends, drinking good coffee at the chain of cafés she worked at, and eating vegetarian food at the local Hare Krishna restaurant are memories that have stayed with me over the years.
Fast forward 5 years.
I, a Canadian of Armenian descent, have moved to Yerevan, Armenia. On a whim, I contact M. (whose number or email I do not have) through CouchSurfing. She writes back! I find out she’s working for an EU organization, while working on a Master’s degree. I tell her I’ve moved to Yerevan, where I’m living with my partner and trying to eek out a living. She sends me her Skype account details. I send her mine.
A couple of days ago, she calls me on Skype. And I have a chance to speak to an old friend who I have neither seen nor been in contact with for 5 years... the conversation is brief as we both have to return to work, but it is reassuring, comforting. I am so happy to hear her voice.
She tells me there’s been progress: she’s now living in an apartment that has hot water and a washing machine (luxury items she didn’t have in the apartment she was renting, and in which I stayed, over 5 years ago). I remember sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the middle of a not-too-too-cold Estonian winter. I remember her greeting me at the airport, getting to her apartment, tired and hungry, and her offering to make me crêpes for dinner! (Before then, I had considered crêpes to be an exclusively breakfast food item :)
That day (though it was evening when I arrived) was probably the start of my trust in the universe. Of trusting in serendipity. CouchSurfing in a way led me to Friendster which led me to Facebook, then blogging, then Twitter. The organic evolution of using online networks, social media, and the resources available on the world wide web to effect change in real life — whether that be a small change in my own life, or a larger change, impacting more people, across borders and boundaries.
And yes, the kindness of strangers.
Thank you, M. If I didn’t say so then, those crêpes were yummy!