I couldn’t describe myself as nosy under any circumstances but I definitelly go through life with a curious note. Overwhelmingly intriguing as life is, it never fails to make us wonder over and over again. I try my very best to find those alusive little things in life that power up this curious note in me and I hate to miss any opportunity to learn new stuff. So, when a request of this sort arrives, I can’t refuse.
Americans are always intriguing. I don’t know if it’s because they live so far away, because we grew up with this notion of a promised land carved into our minds or just because we want to compare the real life people to those portrayed on TV. Considering my knowledge of all things american is based solely on countless episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and hours spent watching Seinfeld, which I still do from time to time, my expectations are usually far from realistic. Luckily I’m aware they’re unrealistic and open-minded enough to be happy to be proven wrong.
And what to expect, really, from a couple in their early twenties from the south? All expectations are a direct result of ones own way of life, thinking and value system, you can only expect what you are able to think of. Traveling, hosting, meeting new people and getting to know them, alongside all other exploratory experiences tend to broaden horizons and consequently enrich the expectations.
They were both 22 years old, she was tiny and cute as a button, he was dark and handsome, not much bigger, a picture perfect add for young love enjoying their first get-away, gazing in each others eyes and finishing each other sentences. But in fact, they were on their honeymoon, their wedding crowned their long lasting relationship before that. Under that sweet-sixteen crush, hidden to the first glance, was a powerfull bond and strong feelings. Unexpected as this was, it was also refreshing and interesting. Intriguing even. We got to talking about life, love and other whatnots. I am a firm believer that you can not possibly recognize your soulmate even if you were to meet him or her, until you have had some life before. Everyone should have an opportunity to laugh out loud to nothing really, to be completelly drunk and recovered from it, to be ashamed infront of a croud at some point and be involved in a fight of some sort. If you want to share your life with someone, you should have a life worth sharing. Gazing stares, filled with love and worship fade away and in the end of the day, you have to talk to each other as well and, should you be so lucky, you are in the company of an interesting countepart. But that’s just me and my expectations within my own horizons, so I really wanted to know more. They met and fell in love in highschool, on a christian vacation camp. They both come from a small town, so distinctive of american rural areas. They soon discovered they didn’t want to move to a bigger city as so many others, but were happy staying in home town, where neighbours are kind and helpful, community is strong and connected and friendships last a life time. Where values still matter. I was interested to hear that the voice of those values was spread by the local church. They went there frequently, a few times a week or so. More than once a week.. That was so unfamililar to me, I wouldn’t step into a religious object unless it is of historical significance, and I believe it is quite strange to an average church-goer here, as well. At least among young people. We aren’t all that different, young people that is, and to have church sceptics at best on one side and church-embrassers (people, who embrasse church – in case, that church-embrassers isn’t a real word) on the other. We concluded that the real difference is they have a church, the humble, Jesus loving, community helping and connecting establishment, while here it’s a Church, an infallible institution with horrible past and a gruesome present. Their masses were a social event, while here it’s an endless preaching and belittling, their priests are normal people that run a church as their job and here they are thought of as sons of God on one hand and as hypocrites and perverts on the other hand. Of course, there can’t be all bad or all good on both sides but I find it interesting how much different is their perception of church to mine. A strong faith makes confident believers and it takes confidence to be so sure of things. To be able to know someone was your other half at this young age is remarkable. I expected it also took a lot of courage to be able to say the infamous words »’Till death do us part« so early in life but they explained to me, it was nothing couragious about it, it was just a normal next step in life for them. Quite a few of their friends were already or were about to be wedded. It not about the huge ceremony, having 200 guests you don’t really know or spending the »most important day ever« dressed as a fluffy pillow and a penguin suit, they said. »That’s something to be afraid of, for sure. But we’ve had a few people we feel closest to over for lunch, got it simply over with and went back to our normal life, now we are just called husband and wife and no longer girlfriend and boyfriend.« No stress, no worries. Could this really be the recipe for happiness? Is happiness hiding in simplicity?
From time to time it happens that even in a hospitable town like our, couchsurfers simply can’t get a couch. We had our couch listed as urgent option so we were able to take in all the »rejected«. Mitja got one of the best request from a Czech guy, saying we were his last option, after that it’s just sleeping under the bridge and he was too cute to become some homeless guys bitch. Of course, he was more than welcome to stay with us and the americans. He brought with him joy and laughter and total ignorance of everything planned. Such fatalism is so refreshing and luckily it rubs off on people around, at least for the time being. From then on our conversations, as interesting as they already were, took a more light tone, were filled with humour and clever observtions. We were standing in front of a red light for pedestrians and he mentioned, that Slovenian people are very polite this way, waiting until it turns green even if there is no cars around. I said thank but thought »You should see this during the day..« Personally, I really do wait for the green and cross the street at the crossing if possible and try to be considerate in traffic overall but that’s rare. And it’s getting worse. I always think that children might be watching and learning so I try to be carefull.
We took them all out for a drink and a stroll. Admitingly we took a bit strange path to our destination but we want to show our guests all aspects of our town. Little alleys, drenched with a stench of urine, dark stairways and underground walkways with horrifying grafitti are just as much a part of our town as well lit streets and fansy cafe’s. But I get where the remarks like: »This would be a perfect crime scene« or »It smells like dead bodies here..« came from. Funny guys.. And you gotta love Mitja’s trying to remember names and getting everything mixed up. It never gets old, when we think about that night, when we were sitting, having a drink under the stars, chatting and right in the middle of the american girl telling a story about her husband, Mitja leans in to me, whispering to me: »Who’s Joseph?«. Suddenly everyone was quiet for a second, when I pointed the american fellow out for him. Mitja blushed and started laughing, then all the others joined in and we couldn’t stop.
Meeting other people, no matter how different they are, is a welcoming and a learning opportunity. Giving people a chance to explain their beliefs and thoughts behind them is really embrassing difference as something good and not something that should be dividing us. Showing someone with different points of view enough respect to listen to their reasonings, without having the urge to convince them otherwise, is a sign of the proverbial bigger person. Having a house full of them, is a sign of happiness.