We packed up our bags, for the final time, in an Airbnb in Kansas City. Our hosts lived right there with us, but spent most of their time in the basement - off limits to guests. Friendly, but valuing their privacy. There are many valid ways to be a host, and that is one. Needless to say, there was no podcast interview.
I dashed off a blog post, closed my laptop, and headed out the door to the car for a final long drive. At some time during the trip, I had discovered that I now get motion sickness if I'm in a car for more than a couple of hours. Today, I was prepared with extra strength ginger beer. Non-alcoholic, but potent. A sipping drink.
During the drive, I learned that in my blog post I had violated one of my cardinal rules: never ascribe emotions to anyone but myself. There was a sentence in that day's post that had crossed this line. My bad. I apologized and removed the sentence when I was again in front of a laptop, later that day. Reaching Saint Paul in the late afternoon, I dropped off Tess at her house, stopped by Common Good Books to check on my book sales and buy gifts, then headed home.
The end of a long trip.
My Airbnb guests, a family of four, were in the final stages of packing to leave after their two-month stay. They had moved to the Twin Cities in late January and had found a temporary home at my Little Purple House while looking to buy a home of their own. I hope we keep in touch - they are kind, loving people.
I also heard from Alex. I had helped her set up her Airbnb listing this autumn, and had co-hosted for her over the past several months while she was out of town. We had hosted some delightful guests: a young family from Switzerland, a woman from London visiting family in Saint Paul, and several others. Families visiting families. Without exception, they were friendly, considerate, and left the condo immaculate. It turns out some of Alex's neighbors had decided that they did not want to have an Airbnb in the building, and had fabricated stories about loud parties and rude people while Alex was out of the country. They didn't bother to get Alex's side of the story. Alex called to let me know that the condo association had passed a new bylaw to forbid short term rentals there.
She had to cancel three bookings, and closed the listing. She will be selling the condo soon. She didn't deserve this. Neither did her guests.
People act in ways that don't reflect their best selves when they are hurt or afraid. I remember seeing the fear in people's faces when I attended public hearings last spring. They didn't want strangers in their neighborhoods. I wanted to tell them stories about the strangers I had met who then became friends. About these good, honest, and kind people who had learned to trust in the kindness of hosts from around the world who had opened up their homes.
But there wasn't time in that meeting, so I collected stories instead and turned them into a book.
Over the next several days, I'll be going through my hours of recorded interviews with the hosts I've met during the trip. The goal is to produce a series of podcasts: Air Be & Being.