Posted by: Mark | April 23, 2011

What Comes Around

We are home. The dog is with us. We are back to sleeping under our own roof, in our own bed, seeing our friends, walking the streets that we know and love, and are re-acquainting ourselves with feeling settled.

It’s an obvious understatement to say that we enjoyed ourselves while abroad. We did more than just “enjoy.” We grew, we learned, we were inspired…plus a lot more. And now we are home.

At home, those things can continue to happen, and very much should. I want to keep growing, learning, and finding inspiration. I want to find it in the familiarity of the faces we left behind, but I also want to find it in the new friends we are yet to meet.

One aspect to traveling that stuck us, with the most obvious immediacy, was the generosity of those we encountered. The human race is demonized as greedy, self-serving, and un-trusting, and there are pockets of existence where those traits are true and real. But what we encountered was a humanity that loves, and opens doors to strangers and feeds, them and clothes them without any demands of reciprocity. Whether we were surrounded by the poverty of Kenya, the creativity of Istanbul, or the opulence of Tokyo, we felt welcomed.

All throughout the travels, we have talked of “paying it forward” when we got home. We want to count ourselves in the overwhelming masses who trust each other and treat their neighbors kindly. And most of all, we want to pay that kindness forward to travelers like us who might feel lonely or sad or nervous, and who just need a warm place to rest for the night.

A few days ago Giulia read on twitter that a touring band needed a place to stay for the night on Friday, after a San Francisco show. She knew I would say Yes, so she offered. We found out that the band, Lost In The Trees, is made up of 7 musicians, and would have the solo opening act with them (Sean Rowe), and that the lead singer’s wife was their tour manager and she would be there as well, as well as the sound engineer, and so in essence we had agreed to let 10 people stay the night on Friday….our fourth night of being home.

In doing some research in the last few days, I realized that both acts are really, really talented, with soaring, beautiful music, and that they have been featured on NPR several times and basically are awesome, and so I got excited to host them, and most of all, to see them perform live.

They stopped by in the early evening, before the show, and dropped off all their stuff. They know how to pack to crash on someone’s floor, and had sleeping pads, dozens of pillows, and countless blankets. It was impressive to witness. And then they were off to eat and get ready to rock and roll.

We crowded into the Hemlock Tavern for an intimate show, and unfortunately missed Sean’s set but got there just as Lost In The Trees was finalizing their set-up, and we had a blast. It had been a while since we had been to a concert, and not just a live cover band playing at a bar somewhere, and it was a great show. Ari, Emma, Genevieve, Leah, TJ, Mark, and Drew (not bad, I remember all the names) were utterly fantastic up on stage, and for the last few songs of the night, they abandoned the stage and joined the crowd to play in the middle of an appreciate audience.

The video recording is dark, but you can still hear the music well (the song is called “Time Taunts Me”), and get a sense of their style, and are hopefully encouraging to go and buy some of their music because they’re great.

And now I’m up early, waiting for the band to come out of their post-show slumber, and I’m gonna make them all pancakes before they take off to Portland. Oh, there goes someone, wrapped in just a towel, to take a shower. Time to start heating up coffee.

Some people might think that we’re crazy for letting a group of musicians that we’ve never met sleep in our house. In the skeptic’s eye, we were begging to be ripped off. They could have come and stolen our stuff, or even our dog ,or beaten us up or anything. And there’s a slight, teentsy-tiny, practically non-existent chance that that could have actually happened. But what kind of a way is that to live? Why spend so much time distrusting and fearful? You miss out on fantastic experiences, and close the doors to human connection before they even come into clear sight. I’d rather trust everyone and be ripped off occasionally, than trust no one and always be right by always finding reasons for my distrust.

Any other passing travelers–bands, backpackers, honeymooners, lost souls, found souls–don’t hesitate to ask if you can crash at our place when you come through San Francisco. After the generosity that we experienced while abroad, we will be paying it forward for a long time.



  1. You should sign up for CouchSurfing. I joined early on in 2005 and was an active member until the last year or two when my travel schedule became just too hectic for me to be reliable as a host or tour guide. You guys have such a nice place–and so much room (not to mention, an ideal location near the beach)–that you’d be great hosts. Plus, it’s sort of like traveling while you’re stationary, meeting so many awesome people doing what you guys once were and showing them what you love most about your city.

    Welcome back! Can’t wait to see you guys and the pup.

  2. i am so excited to have found your blog. i cannot wait to go back and read about your adventures. i’m sure i’ll find out by reading, but did you ever go to ireland? that’s where i’m living right now and it is pure heaven.

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