I was coming to Rochester from New York City. I had spent a great week with my friends and it was time to go to Rochester to start the school. Usually, I make arrangements in advance, but not this time. Later I compared myself to that dragonfly from Krylov’s fable, who was singing and dancing the whole summer and had hard times when winter came. (https://russianuniverse.org/2015/02/03/krylov-dragonfly-ant/)
Anyway, I’ve decided to solve the problems as they come. At first, I needed a place for a couple of days to get around, to know the city. But I wanted to save money, so I didn’t want to pay for the hotel or hostel. Some of my friends suggested trying couchserfing.com. That’s the website where anyone can find a place to stay with locals for short period of time and absolutely for free.
So, I searched “Rochester” and found a lady. Kate was my mum’s age, so there was nothing to worry about. She was very nice and even offered me a ride from the bus stop to her place.
I came to Rochester downtown around 9 pm. It was raining. The bus left, everyone who got off the bus was picked up. And just I was standing on the street with a huge suitcase and a big backpack. It was getting dark and Kate didn’t come to pick me up.
I didn’t know anyone in Rochester. I had no idea what’s the city like and where was Kate’s place. I didn’t have a SIM card yet. With heavy luggage, I couldn’t go around in search of Internet or phone. Moreover, there weren’t many people at that time outside to ask help. And those who I saw didn’t look friendly. But it was getting really late and had to make some decision if I didn’t want to spend the night on the street.
Luckily, there was a couple passing me by and I forced myself to ask them for the phone, so I can call Kate (I had her number in my notebook) and find out if she was still coming for me. But the woman didn’t want to listen to anything I was trying to explain. She thought I was asking for money or that I was a beggar and kept going away. Fortunately, the guy stopped and heard me out. He called Kate and it turned out she misunderstood the location of the bus stop. Mary and Phil kept me a company until Kate came and picked me up. Meanwhile, I told them my story and that I am planning to stay with a person I’ve never seen in my life and I know nothing about. Both of them were really surprised and Mary said, that I am very brave to do that. I think that was the moment when I wasn’t sure anymore that it was a good idea to find a free place to stay overnight.
Kate came. We’ve been chatting on the way to her place, she seemed a little bit weird, but I tried to calm myself down that there was nothing to worry about.
She showed me the basement where I was supposed to spend the night. It was a place with dull light, without a single window and with lots of old furniture. It smelled like an old place where nobody lived for many years.
And then it started. Suddenly I remembered all those American movies and TV series when someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Crazy thoughts came to my mind. I thought that while I was sleeping Kate would come down and kill me, same as she did with everyone who stayed at her place. I called my friends, messaged everyone who wasn’t sleeping and told my story over and over again. But nothing helped; I couldn’t cope with my thoughts and emotions. I’ve spent the whole night with lights on and with the phone in my hands, not letting myself to fall into sleep.
The next morning was the happiest morning in my life. I was alive.