I remember playing a game when I was little called Telephone. Standing in a circle, you would whisper a phrase into someone’s ear and the message would go around the circle until it returned to you. Then the last person would say what they heard and everyone would laugh because it would be so completely different from the original phrase.
I have been playing a different game of telephone:
Monday morning, it was 9am and I had no where to sleep that night or the next day or the day after that…
The day before was my work day. I had spent hours trying to line up something, anything, but nothing worked out. It was a Holiday weekend. I went to sleep that night feeling very weepy.
At 9:30am Nicky, my host from two nights before, called and said her friend would host me that night. So I went to breakfast feeling relieved. During breakfast I sat next to a family that spanned at least 3 generations. I tried not to eavesdrop but couldn’t help enjoying little snippets of conversation, and felt nostalgic for my family and similar gatherings. Isn’t that the point of Memorial day?
As I strapped on all my gear and prepared to leave the dining room, a woman at their table asked me what I was doing. When I explained my project, she asked how I found places to sleep at night.
“Well, I use social networking, churches, community centers, clubs, etc., to find places to stay. Mostly I stay with families and it gives me a chance to get to know a new community in a very personal way. New Mexico has been hard. There are a lot of long stretches of road and not a lot of towns. I struck out this weekend because it is a holiday. I have somewhere to stay tonight, but tomorrow…” I paused and raised my eyebrows, smiling, “Know anyone in Thoreau?”
She glanced at her husband, then said, “We live in Thoreau. You are welcome to stay with us.”
“Really? Wow. Yes. Are you sure? Yes. I can’t believe you are from Thoreau!”
We planned out the details and exchanged numbers. From there, it gathered momentum, each family calling the next and making arrangements to host me in the next town. I wish I had time to write about each family and each experience, cooking in their homes, walking 9 miles with 14 year old Hannah, being invited to a soccer game, petting the cat/dog, watching TV in the living room, and sleeping in a cosy new bed each night. It was like that game of telephone, the message passing from one town to the next and my fear morphing into pleasure and a bright message of fellowship and family… community.
Thank you to all my wonderful hosts. Thank you for inviting me into your homes and life, for each night I felt like part of your families.