I loved my experience with Helpx. One of the reasons I loved it was my hosts were away for 99% of my last two weeks here, leaving me free to dance along to my favorite songs in the kitchen while I cooked mushroom omelette. Then I played Assassin's Creed II on the Xbox, or went to hold the chicken while staring at her feathers, feeling the sun dance on my skin. There was no one to explain myself to, no one to force myself to smile at. My least favorite time was my first week here where I socialized with my hosts during every meal and in-between. Sometimes I got bored but wanted to be polite so I forced myself to listen and converse. After four days listening to people, including a child, tell me about things and how to do things, my mind was screaming for solitude the way waterlogged lungs scream for air.
Socializing in groups for more than two days nonstop is hard. A fact in the life of Đinh Hòai-Trâm. I love people (sometimes) and find them fascinating (occasionally), for certain amounts at a time. Then after my social battery is dead it doesn't matter if you are the Dalai Lama or want to give me a million dollars, I'm done. Well, you can give me the million dollars first.
My reflection as I explore affordable methods of travel are that I enjoy my right to solitude. Hostels are good because I can still leave whenever I want to get my alone time at a secluded park or church. I'm not obligated to talk to anybody or stay within anyone's space. Whereas work-for-travel methods such as farmstays are okay but not ideal. I mean, I can do it, but I don't enjoy being at someone's constant beck-and-call. I might as well be back in California working for actual money. At least then I have my nights and weekends off from people.
I'm lucky I had an unconventional Helpx experience where I was basically just house sitting and left alone. I loved biking in the countryside while listening to my favorite music, eating choux puff pastries and all the French cheeses, and drinking red wine. I loved talking to myself and the dog and the chickens and the goat and horses about my experiences. I felt some loneliness, but ironically a few days after my hosts left the house I started enjoying my solitude more. This makes me wonder if loneliness is really a case of missing people being around. Or is loneliness a state of disconnect to one's surroundings? When my hosts were here, I felt lonelier. When I am browsing social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram aimlessly, I also feel lonelier. Maybe loneliness is less about who's around, and more about feeling disconnected. I've been off Facebook for a day now and it feels great. Two more days of my social media fast. This post will automatically share to Facebook, but it'll be nice not to check who views it or comments on it.
Maybe house sitting is something to explore. Hostels are confirmed good on my list, whereas work-to-stay situations like Helpx, WWOOF, and working at hostels are now last on my list. House sitting is a gray zone yet to be explored. I loved it this time.