Now that you've heard about the Disappearing Couches of Nashville, you'll understand my apprehension about my arrangements in Atlanta.
When I was preparing for my solo journey to Florida, I considered joining CouchSurfing, but never went through with it because, at the time, I didn't know anyone who used it and I was already a jumble of nerves about moving to begin with. I only wanted to stay with friends or mutual friends.
My arrangements for Atlanta were as such: my longtime Internet friend / pen pal, Sarah, used to work with this guy, Kevin back in San Francisco. Neither of them work at that same place, anymore. Sarah is still in California, but Kevin moved to Atlanta. Sarah got in touch with him and Kevin was totally game to let me stay with him and his girlfriend. We had been in contact via email, and then we spoke on the phone as I was getting ready to leave downtown Nashville. He was very nice and very friendly.
As I was inching toward the Tennessee/Kentucky border, it dawned on me: What if he doesn't know how I know Sarah? Granted, this was late 2010, meeting people on the Internet had been a common practice for many years at this point, but still. Some people are weird about it. Forgetting the time difference between us (especially as I was entering the Eastern time zone), I called Sarah and left a message, explaining my concern. At one of my stops, we exchanged texts. She didn't see any reason for Kevin to be weirded out by the fact that Sarah and I had never actually met, and no, she did not tell him.
I was so happy to arrive at Kevin's house after battling Atlanta traffic. It was past the rush hour time frame when I reached the city limits, but holy hell, that does not matter. Kevin and his girlfriend, Laura were so friendly and welcoming, and their dog was really awesome, too. We exchanged pleasantries, they asked about the trip, got the formalities out of the way. And then Kevin said, "So how long have you known Sarah?"
"Gosh, a few years now."
"Cool. Are you from California?"
"Nope. Never been there, actually."
"Oh. Did you two... go to school together?"
"So... how do you and Sarah know each other?"
"Oh, ha ha. That's cool. How many times have you and Sarah hung out?"
"Nope! I've never actually met her in person!"
And then Kevin erupted into laughter and his girlfriend's face carried a shocked-but-amused expression. I explained that, even though Sarah and I haven't actually met in person yet, we're VERY good friends and have been for years (probably 4-5 years at that point). Every time Sarah and I tried to visit the other, something always came up. There was a year where, any time we picked a week in a month, one of us had either a wedding to attend (which always comes with a high cost), a family obligation (non-wedding-related), or some kind of ridiculous medical expense (because getting sick is crazy expensive, with or without insurance).
Anyway, Kevin thought this was hilarious and "SO Sarah!" When I said, "I hope this doesn't weird you two out too much!" he and his girlfriend insisted it was fine. Just really, really funny.
And again, their kindness and warmth and hospitality were beyond appreciated. I'm still so glad that I got to meet those two and make a wonderful new connection in the Atlanta area. Kevin and Laura both had to work in the morning, but Laura had an early day and she and I met up for lunch before I headed down to Florida, where a brand new life awaited me.
PS. I have since gotten over my fear of CouchSurfing.com.