Offers to Stay

July 2, 2016

I’ve stayed in many places besides my own bed over the years: hostels abroad, fancy hotels in Paris, and couches from coast to coast. It’s very rare I get an offer to stay anywhere long term, due to several factors:

1. As most of my friends are in their 20s and early 30s, they may not have a house or apartment large enough to comfortably accommodate someone for weeks or months.
2. Said friends are usually not in the best situation financially, and I don’t want to stay any longer than I have to, to avoid being a burden.
3. I don’t want to fall into the habit of relying on others for things that should really be my responsibility: food, rent, transportation. Once in a while is ok, but for months?

Despite all this, I do have a few friends who are financially stable, own their own house, and don’t mind having me around (I know – it’s unbelievable). So when an offer does cross my table, I’m very careful not to abuse the trust given to me: I try to stay as inconspicuous as I can be when we’re all home; I clean up after myself and buy my own food; I help out when asked and when there are obvious jobs to be done at home.

Nevertheless, it still places a burden on the friendship, with our relationship becoming more like parent and dependent vs. equals. I grow overly concerned with trying to please them – which isn’t the best quality in a friend – and try to read their reactions as to whether they want to hang out or for me to become scarce.

I may have pushed the boundaries a bit too much this time. When I was staying in a hostel in San Francisco before flying back to Texas for my mother’s birthday, I got a random Skype call at 11 PM asking why I would be willing to pay for a hostel, when they had a couch in a spare room I could use for a few weeks or months? This is key – they said “weeks or months”, not days.

I hesitated. I could certainly have used the financial relief of not paying for a bunk day after day and the physical relief of a good night’s sleep, absent the sound of snorers (who should NOT be allowed in hostel dorms). There weren’t any strings attached. They were good people, good friends. Why not stay until I could line up a few interviews, pool some income?

Well… I don’t know exactly what happened. I stayed for a week, then work and personal stuff took me away for ten days. Then another week, at the conclusion of which they decided I needed to go.

Now, this is not entirely unexpected: many people don’t know what it really means to have someone else in their house for more than a few days. Just imagine Christmas with your family: first you’re happy to see them (or not), then after a few days the exhilaration wears off and you start examining what they need to do to just go about their day: take time to shower, listen to the TV a little louder than you’d like, start pestering you with questions when all you want to do is relax. After a few weeks of this, defenestrating someone isn’t out of the question.

Nevertheless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. After all, they reached out with the initial offer, and then promptly rescinded it when it suited them. As is their right, of course. Maybe it was watching me sleep in and work online for most of the day rather than getting out of the house and working elsewhere. Maybe it was that one thing in the fridge I snagged. Or just being around when they didn’t want me around. I’ll never know for sure.

In the meantime, I hope I still have friends out there. I hope I can show them love and respect when someone offers me a place to stay.

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