"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why I Am Not Currently Homeless

"Where have you been staying?" is a question many confused friends and readers have asked me lately.  Let me tell you.  It's a great story that may even surpass all other stories of kindness you have read about on this blog.

In late November, I landed in Santa Cruz, California, because of spontaneously deciding to take a travel friend from Taos, New Mexico to Oakland, California.  Once here, my car broke down, I ran out of money, and I had no real ideas about where to go next.  All excellent reasons for me not to go anywhere.

While I waited for my car to be fixed and began looking for jobs, I hurriedly patched together a network of free places to sleep.  I housesat in a mansion, crashed in a new friend's mountain cabin, and then found Evan and Laina through couchsurfing.

Evan and Laina - the loving couple and my new friends
One night during my week-long stay on Evan and Laina's couch, they invited me over to Evan's mom and step-dad's house next door to make limoncello.

Making limoncello - a traditional, Italian, after-dinner liquor
While at Heidi and Mike's warm home, I discovered that they are also couch surfing hosts, with their own profile on couchsurfing.org and a spare guest room.  Hmmmmm. . .

Still without the funds to afford my own apartment (and unsure if that's what I even wanted), constantly looking for new hosts each week was taking more time and energy than it was worth.  Not to mention all the packing and re-packing of my things, and then trying to keep my pile of stuff tidy in the corner of someone's living room.

I took a bold step and asked Heidi and Mike if I might be able to stay with them for the remaining two weeks in December.  They immediately agreed, and I gratefully moved my things in to my own room.

This shot of their entryway perfectly displays the palpable love in this house
Heidi is the picture of strength, grace, and wisdom.  She runs her own daycare in their home, including making fresh, healthy meals for the children each day.  My favorite part about her?  She is on her THIRD MARRIAGE, and it's a beautiful one.  She and Mike have been married for 15 years and are still as in love as star-struck high school kids.  Happy third marriages are possible!  Yay!

Heidi firing her Creme Brûlée during a dinner party one night

Mike owns his own construction business.  He also umpires for the local Little League.  In fact, he is the head umpire for all of Santa Cruz county, which means he organizes the schedule and orders the gear for all of the other umpires - an entirely voluntary effort.  In his spare time, he brews his own beer and plays poker with the boys each week.  He is a kind and benevolent soul.
Mike as Santa for the kids in his family on Christmas Eve
Brewing day in the backyard
Staying here has been a blessing beyond even my ability to put into words.  The practicalities of a warm bed, shower, and full-stocked kitchen are only the surface of the gifts I've received here.  Heidi and Mike have become like surrogate parents to me, often listening to my daily stories and helping me think through my next steps in life.

Sometimes I walk into the kitchen to Mike saying, "We left you a bowl of homemade clam chowder on the stove," or Heidi saying, "I made you an extra waffle for breakfast."  One night, I came home from work to a huge dinner party of their friends from France.  I was immediately given a plate of lamb shank, au gratin potatoes, and brussels sprouts.  I ate with a smile while I watched their clown-friend teach one of the children how to juggle with clementines, and I felt warm all over.

After dinner juggling lesson
On Christmas morning, there was a stocking filled and hanging by the fireplace for me.  

Towards the end of December, Heidi says to me, "You know, if you can't find a place by January, you're more than welcome to stay here through the month."  So stay I did.  They have refused to accept any money from me.  This is my final week in their home.  Next week, I will move on to another housesitting gig, and then, quite possibly, my own apartment.

Thank you, Heidi and Mike.  Thank you for showing me, once again, that the world is a good and generous place to be.  People like you give me hope for our interconnected lives.  You have blessed me beyond what I ever could have expected, and I intend to pay every bit of it forward, in your name.
Supporting me at the karaoke contest last weekend


  1. Thank you, Heidi and Mike from Melanie's Mom and Dad! We are grateful, beyond words for the kind, loving, generous hospitality you have shown to our one and only, favorite, VERY missed daughter! May God richly bless you for all you have done for Melanie! Knowing she had such a wonderful place to stay, gives us peace. THANK YOU again and again!

    1. Don't worry I've thanked them many times for you guys!

  2. Beautiful story! How wonderful! Bowing to the goodness that is still alive and well! <3

  3. Your car was wise and knew exactly the right place to break down, as Santa Cruz people are very good souls. Most especially Heidi and Mike. :)

  4. Thank you so much, Heidi and Mike, for providing such loving protection for my little sister. I think about her every day, often with much worry. Knowing she is safe is very comforting. Love you Smells.

    1. I didn't even know you read my blog, Jeff. Thanks. And you're not allowed to call me Smells in public.

  5. That's so awesome! I love your adventurous spirit!!

  6. This is definitely an interesting journey. Good luck to you on your next steps!

    1. Thanks, T.A.! And welcome to my blog. I just checked yours out as well and it seems like we have a lot in common! How's the writing going down in Hawaii? I'm hoping to make it there within the next several months. . .

  7. Wow, such a cool story. It is refreshing to hear that there are still wholesome relationships out there!

    1. Thanks, slimegreen! And welcome to my blog - I don't think I've seen you around here before. I'm about to transition to a bigger, better, much cooler site within the next week, so stay tuned so you can come along for the ride!

  8. Awesome and inspiring adventure!