How an App Restored My Faith in Humanity

2013, girl, you have given me a run for my money. Within you, I have dissolved an old set of problems and found myself some new ones. My day job and my night job have been pretty good to me and have brought a ton of joy and fulfillment, but my personal life? I got whipped by the hurtful-yet-necessary chains of heartbreak, betrayal, life-altering epiphanies and more. You exist, 2013! I am so very aware of your presence.

Since eight weeks after I graduated college, I’ve been living in Los Angeles and working pretty much non-stop. There’s this thing about LA that makes you feel like if you ever leave – even for a day – you’ll miss the moment you were living there to experience. But the thing about LA is that, since so many people who live here feel like that, it becomes a really soul-sucking environment. You know, lots of Thirsties and Desperates and Unfortunates milling around. And I don’t want to bash LA or the entertainment industry or the people I know who have lived in this city their whole lives and loved it – that’s not what this is about.

It’s more about how, when you live in a place because that’s where you need to live to do the job you dream of doing, you accept certain things about the environment that you just wouldn’t normally. You kinda forget how many guys here have Peter Pan Syndrome and are just trying to prove to girls from their high school they’re cool and will never settle down (and more to the point, that this affliction is not as prevalent everywhere) and how many people are just as eager as you (except their morals & ethics be all kinza twisted?).

Maybe that’s not true for everyone, but I basically forgot how to be treated as a person over the last seven years here. I forgot the wonder of being in a room where everyone is an equal, another charm on the bracelet of an evening that’s just as wonderful and unique as the next. I felt grossed out by myself. I admittedly lean toward self-consumed when weirded out by my surroundings and had no problem taking my sadness and discomfort out on those that I love as a result of constantly feeling weirded out. Yeah, there were external factors that were contributing to me slowly turning into a miserable person with zero patience for anyone or anything, but a lot of it was that I had zip perspective. I’d completely forgotten a life that wasn’t full of people that just wanted to suck my soul dry.

So after a super bummer call from an ex I was all too entangled with, I decided to use my hiatus between seasons two and three of 2 Broke Girls to try and get back to the heart of the 22-year-old girl who moved to this town with all the love, kindness, hope and excitement but with the brain of an almost 30-year old. I wanted to hold my heart up to the Universe with both hands and see what kind of results it would garner.

But I needed the PERFECT place to do it.

And I’m… you know, as once described by someone who both loved and hated me, a “difficult woman.” I mean, I’m down as hell for 99% of life’s things, but if I was going to go on a pilgrimage, it needed to be the right combo of super freakin’ comfy, hip as hell, centrally located to whatever I decided I wanted to be near and most importantly, not insanely expensive. I had some bills to throw at the experience, but I don’t think being dumb with money is chic or interesting unless you’re purposely trying to be dumb with money and then it’s real fun and hilarious but not on the daily.

I started by going to Airbnb, a site I’d heard about from friends, just looking up places all over the world. Flats in Shoreditch, studios in Amsterdam, homes in Bangkok. You know, ’cause I’m a real international type and also? Airbnb just made it easy to daydream. The photos of the homes, the details in the profiles… I was set adrift on my future memories, if you will (it’s okay if you won’t).

Then I was all like, “No, okay, no. Girl, you don’t even know about your own damn country, and you love Elvis, so why don’t you check out Memphis?”

So I looked around Memphis and liked what I saw but realized I knew pretty much no one who knew pretty much anyone in Memphis and yes, that’s kind of what I was going for, but like… One friend would be nice.

Then it clicked: AUSTIN, TEXAS! I’d gone for SXSW three years ago and kept thinking, “I wanna see what this town’s party is about when all these #nerds aren’t here.”

No, I didn’t know anyone and yes, I was terrified that I’d be gay bashed in Texas, even though I’m straight because I went to high school and let’s just say that it wasn’t uncommon for me to be straight-gay bashed – but that was it. I was going to go to Austin, I just needed to find a place. I assumed Airbnb was a cool place to “look”, but since it was like, an internet company/app, I probably shouldn’t give it all my money and hope that whomever was on the other side wasn’t a Nigerian email con-artist type.

I asked a couple friends if they knew other places to rent vacation homes with specifics (they can’t hate someone who smokes cigarettes even if I won’t smoke them in their home, puppies allowed, great internet service, bars and coffee in walking distance) and I was referred to one site that looked like it was built in 1997. My friend said it was his “gold standard” for vacation rentals, but after poking around on the site, I realized everything was overpriced and honestly? I didn’t get positive vibes from like… even the design of the site. And if you want to put your place up on that ugly website, I don’t want to stay in your home because, babe? You’re not cute.

Airbnb it was. After consulting with my therapist (LOL, but seriously– this was a hard decision for me to make and I don’t want anyone to think I take leaving town for three weeks lightly. I’m a huge snob/brat and hate most things if they don’t go my damn way), I decided to pull the trigger on the studio apartment I found in Downtown Austin on Airbnb. It was listed as having “Uptown features” and, you know, #thatuptowngirllife #billyjoel #christiebrinkley.

Man, you guys. I made the best decision of my life booking that trip to Austin. My Airbnb host Julia was cool as hell, from the first message exchange to my last night in town, when we hugged in the back of a drag show and she told me I was her adopted little sister. Beyond that, I have never experienced such a full-on reawakening.

I fell in love with like, every dude ever, every chick I met will hopefully be my friend forever, every story I heard or smile I shared with a stranger didn’t feel like the stories and smiles I’d become accustomed to, which are basically like… emojis. It was the kind of human kindness that you, or maybe just I, don’t experience often. There was no caution involved in the kindness, no defensive spirits, no assumptions about motivations, just love love love love love. And we all need that and we need to make time to remember that. And you’re maybe reading this like, “Um, is this bitch stupid?”

Call me when you get there, babe. We all get there, babe, and I’ll talk you through it. But for now I’ll give you a sneak preview to my new lifestyle: “Don’t do anything that isn’t aligned with your intentions/anything you don’t want to do because DOING YOU is a major non-negotiable.”

And as a result of that trip, I renewed my commitment to myself, which was to not be all about myself. Since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to live a life of service and I realized that, unintentionally, that’s what I’ve started to do with creatives and their voices here at HelloGiggles, but I want to do it with a smile on my face. From now on, I only deal with quality. Quality hearts, quality brains, quality getaways, quality babes, quality dranks, quality night’s sleeps, quality everything. My version of quality, which is all that love and spiritual junk I was talking about earlier.

Ya know, ‘cuz it’s my honor to live on this planet and it’s my honor to be one of the three little faces on the HelloGiggles icon and it’s been my honor to try and make you smile or feel over the years. And if I have to occasionally – and truly – leave the bubble of “work/play/work/play/work/play” Los Angeles to make sure I can do that, then it’s my job to do that. And if I can stay in someone’s home all by myself with my dog and run around the streets like I was born in that town and make friends and laugh and laugh and laugh, then I’ve really kind of have everything I need. And yes, it makes me totally emotional to write about this.

But for real, 2013, girl. You did it. You spanked me, flipped me, twisted me and pulled my hair and half way through, I was into it.

Airbnb connects travelers with hosts offering unique, inspiring spaces around the world. Find access to truly amazing accommodations – from tree housescastles, to even your own private island.

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