Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Then and Now 71 - To the Hostel

Then and Now 71 - To the Hostel
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

Over a year and dozens of blog posts later, this is Then and Now 71, the first in a final string of Then and Now posts that will detail the transition periods of the four great times of my life as a single man. This post will discuss the day that I went from a language learning house guest and burgeoning personality at my bud's aunt's place, to Then and Now 3 and 5 that detail my first days at the hostel, and my evolution into the confident, fun and happy person that I was during my single time.

My bud and I overstayed our welcome at his aunt's house by a week or two. She was starting to get tired of having us around (and even said she was drinking to fall asleep at night), so we both knew it was time for us to head out. About a week after the deadline, and a week before we eventually left, my bud and I decided to split our house finding duties between the two of us: I would go to a pay-by-the-hour internet cafe to find a long list of phone numbers for apartments that needed to be rented, and my bud would call them all and find the place for us.

It was very difficult for me, my language skill not being anywhere close to what it was a month later. In fact, I was really annoyed with my bud, because even though he was fluent in the language, he still expected me to find places on the net when I had little idea as to what the ads were saying. When I returned with the phone numbers, my annoyance turned to irritation when he basically put me on a complete blackout for an entire week as to whether he found us a place or not.

I didn't ask, assuming that if he said nothing, that it was good news and we would be leaving for a place together. But the night before we were ready to leave, when I asked him what was going on to make sure, he said he was going to move in with his grandmother in the main city, and that they didn't have a place for me. I asked him about the numbers I gave him, and he said that none of the places were still free. I got really nervous, then asked him what I was supposed to do for housing. He just shrugged, and said no more. At the time, I assumed that because we were living together for over a month, I guess I had started to get on his nerves, and my bud was trying to punish me or something for bothering him.

We slept, then woke up the next day with the morning sun shining through the window. I was still nervous as hell, but then he told me that he found a hostel for me to stay at while I looked for work. I told him that I didn't have the finances to stay for more than a week or two and that I might end up homeless, then asked him if I could stay with him at his grandmother's place. He flatly refused, saying that she was the one who was turning me away, and berated me for not finding more phone numbers. It was uncharacteristic of him to act like that, at least to me, but it was a harsh lesson well learned about never trusting other people with my life, and to always take proactive action for myself.

Before we left his aunt's place, we found a little lizard chilling on the wall of the room, which had been staying there for who knows how long. Both my bud and I tried to capture it with a plastic container to take it outside, but we had no luck, and just left it for his aunt to take care of. And finally, after giving his aunt the crystal sculpture that I had bought for her as a thank you for her hospitality, my bud and I were off to the train station.

His father was there to meet us and we bought tickets on a train that headed straight to the main city, but it turned out that our luggage was going on a separate train. My bud, again, decided to let me work out the bag processing on my own with the local officials, but I had only a partial idea as to what to say. Luckily, there were some really nice foreigners there who spoke the local language impeccably, and they helped me to get everything set up. After chatting for a few minutes, I PSP'd my way up to the main city with my bud and his dad, and then we were finally there.

We took the subway to a stop that I don't remember and walked among the tall buildings of the main city, and I was interested to see that while it seemed the same style as the city we had just come from, it still had little differences to make it special and unique: unlike my bud's aunt's town, the buildings were taller, and there were more signs advertising wares around. Also, there was a lot more bustle of people going to and fro, the streets were much wider, and while I had met approachable and friendly people where I had come from, this new place was full of quieter people who dressed more formally, but fashionably. After a few minutes walking in the heat, the three of us went to a steakhouse to have lunch. It was kind of sad because they served the steak in little pans shaped like cows. Still, although I never really liked steak, I had to admit that the meal was delicious.

The sun was starting to set then, and my bud's father left to take care of some business. Needing some supplies, my bud and I went to a local store nestled quietly among a line of quiet houses at the foot of some humble forested mountains, and went in to get some soap, shampoo and deodorant for our new abodes. Apparently, the market was only a few blocks away from the place my bud was going to stay at.

As I passed through the checkout, I realized I didn't have enough money to buy my stuff and a bag, because I was a few cents short. But out of nowhere, a smiling old lady appeared behind me and offered me not only enough money to buy a bag, but gave me her extra bag as well. I thanked her a bunch and packed up my new swag, flashed her a smile, then my bud and I went outside to get ready to take me to my new digs. It was a much needed show of graciousness for me when I was still pretty terrified about what was going to happen in my life from then on, and I'm still grateful to that woman.

A quick taxi ride later, my bud took me to the hostel where I would spend the greatest month of my life. I was really scared at the bottom floor, knowing my money was running out and I had to find work quickly, but I kept it all bottled up as my bud said goodbye. As he drove away in the taxi, that was the moment I started to really change myself, and I used this time of adversity to make myself as strong and happy as possible.

Then and Now 5 describes this change so I'll leave this post where it is, but there is one last thing I have to mention before I draw my experiences at my bud's aunt's place to a close: I couldn't have been luckier that things worked out the way they did. My bud's grandma is a shouting, abusive terror, and her caretaker and my bud received the brunt of it. At the same time, I was, for the first time in my life, a free man on his own, living in an excellent country surrounded by excellent people and adventure, and every day was another certainty to put a beaming smile on my face.

Were it not for my bud's tough love, and a little luck, I wouldn't have had nearly as great an experience as I did abroad, nor would I have had the tools to keep up the fast and fun pace that I had set for myself. Not just that month at the hostel, but the entire six months that I lived as a man abroad, wouldn't have been possible without my bud, and I'm still eternally thankful to him for that time.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I played cars with my son.
I watched TV.
I ate lunch.
I roughhoused with my son.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
I played video games with my son.
I slept.

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