Life can be uncomfortable. It's supposed to be: If you're comfortable, it probably means you've settled into a job that pays the bills, you're on a television schedule that rivals the class schedule you had in college, and you eat things that you will eventually resemble (potatoes and boxes of cereal are foods/body types that come to mind).
Or maybe I'm just generalizing about other people because I'm 32, I live in what my grandma calls a "boardinghouse" situation with five other adults because I can't afford my own place, I watch television for free on my computer, and kale is my staple food. I'm really just jealous of others who can afford the comforts I bashed above.
And while part of me loves the boredom of order and dreams of a scripted life where I have a husband, a house and two-point-five kids or cats, part of me is glad I am where I am at this very moment in time. Because I don't know where I would be if there weren't complete strangers staying at my house 75 percent of the year.
Don't have transients occupying your living room on a weekly basis? Well, it's high time you did.
My roommates' lifestyles/favored cultural realms are the reason we have strangers in our house most of the time. I currently live with an astrologer/tarot reader/herbalist, a yoga teacher/massage therapist, an urban homesteader/eBay game runner, a hard-hustling up-and-coming rapper, and a fellow writer/touring musician. None of us have traditional occupations, or anything resembling a regular working or life schedule.
I'm not saying we're the most unique motherfuckers on planet; I'm just explaining why we tend to attract other alternate-lifestyle types who also have no problem shacking up with strangers for (sometimes) lengthy stays. From my minimal experience touring the country with bands, I know that having a safe place to stay is a blessing when you're in a foreign city. So in turn, we often open our house up to any band coming through Denver that might need a place to crash.
But some of my roommates have made connections far beyond your usual touring-band types -- like our latest guest, Kata. A friend of a friend a housemate met at IDA (or "gay summer camp," as she lovingly calls it), Kata came to stay with us for two weeks this month. Though none of us had ever met before, she seemed to fit right in.
A guerrilla street medic from Australia, Kata had spent more than a decade in Europe, providing free and low-cost medical care to all kinds of individuals. She also spent time as a sheepherder and regaled us with her adventures of making and eating blood sausage to survive, and squatting in a warehouse back home on the Sydney Harbour when she was in college. This stranger was the shit!
Staying in our little commune -- dubbed the Witch House House -- was only part of her journey, as Kata was on a multi-week trip of the U.S., enhancing her health-care expertise with educational stops in Denver, San Francisco, New York, Detroit and more.
Because while in Denver much of her focus was on intensifying her knowledge of acupuncture, we all got to have acupuncture treatments -- in the comfort of our bedrooms, for free. We also were privy to Kata's observations about our Denver world: She had a wonderful time at the thrift store up the street from our house and even scored a Star Wars T-shirt. Late at night, we all shared tea and coffee while Kata told us tales of her trips all over the world. When it was time for her to jump in a car with another complete stranger, we were practically in tears. Our stranger was leaving forever.
I imagine that if I lived alone like a grownup in a real apartment where I didn't have to talk to my neighbors, I probably never would. And I would never have learned how blood sausage is made. (For the record, it is just as gross as it sounds.)
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Learn more about Kata's "Radical Healthcare Training Tour" and how you can help her access radical healing and disability-justice projects in the U.S.