Finding the ways to fill the time
There is a massive sense of relief when you realise the strangers who will be sharing your tiny house are normal.
As a renter, I lived with paranoid schizophrenics; pot heads who cultivated an ever increasing ”rubbish worm’ – literally a worm-shaped pile of trash – in their kitchen; screamy people, smelly people, and a people who wouldn’t pay to have the house fumigated to kill the carpet-blackening levels of fleas (from their two dogs) because the house inspection was in “3 months, so we’ll do it then. ”
As a friend to a hotel cleaner, I have heard stories of how people treat their rooms. Stories which feature a lot of bodily fluids left on the walls.
When signing up for Airbnb, I must have blocked those experiences out, but the doubts crept back in the hours before the guests’ arrival. I wonder if they were as nervous about me?
The first night went over smoothly, as we went to a local expat Thanksgiving dinner together and my new Calinfornian friends, a designer and a computer programmer, got to hear more about various teaching programs than they ever imagined. There was also a fierce (drunken) debate over the travel merits of Osaka vs Tokyo (one expat’s argument: Tokyo has had every chance to impress me: I walked through Akihabara with maids waving at me from *literally* every direction; I ate delicious food; slept in a beautiful hotel room for only 3000 yen AND got laid. I still hate Tokyo).
The couple interacted well with the expats, and the more I grew to like them, the more concerned I was that they wouldn’t like the house. Especially as they related the experience of their uncomfortable sleep previously on futons on a hardwood floor. My floors are tatami, but the futon still is thin compared to a Western mattress. The house too, is far smaller than a Western apartment, lacking any wall insulation or heating. Hikone is very cold recently.
Multiple helpings of turkey, and a full day exploring Kyoto, however, nudged my guests into a torpor, and soon after arriving home, we said our good-nights and as I heard the gentle buzz of their harmonious snores start up, I was able to relax.
Over the three nights they have been here, similar to our experience in Australia, there have been times together, and times apart. I discovered that the main appeal of our apartment is that, during peak holiday periods like this weekend, it is more cost effective to commute from Hikone than to stay in Kyoto – so I can expect perhaps to only be booked during the peak times – though this might not be so bad. It has been interesting to meet people from a completely different world: happy, successful careerists. People who come to Japan to work tend to be very similar – many consider this to be a transition point either before their ‘real life’ begins, or because whatever they thought they would do for the rest of their life didn’t work out.
As my husband and I discussed whether or not to continue with Airbnb in future, this was a point that seemed important to me. Despite the stress, and the cleaning, and the breakfast dance as 4 people do tight maneuvers in a too small kitchen, I realised I liked this way of meeting new and interesting people, giving into trust that they won’t be dangerous or damaging.
Hopefully there will never be an entry titled: The full Airbnb experience, part final: Ah, people DO suck.