“Guys,” I wrote on the Fuck Off Fund Facebook Page a month ago, “I had to turn down a really cool opportunity. A free ticket worth $1,000 to a conference, but it’s in San Francisco, I’d have to get my flight and hotel, so I had to say no. I feel responsible but crappy.”
Today, I write to you from San Francisco.
One of my favorite clients, Nir Eyal, is throwing this Habit Summit, where a bunch of brilliant people from places like Google are talking about how people form habits, information I want to use for my writer’s course to help people make writing a habit. Plus they’ll be teaching gamification, which I want to study to help people get through the course and actually enjoy it. In high school, I had a piece of software for studying for the SAT that felt like a game. It really helped me stick to a program, get a score good enough for entry into the University of Florida with scholarships. The more important a goal is, the more important it is that you make it fun to get there. That’s what I think.
But in a fit of responsibility, I told Nir I couldn’t make it. I couldn’t afford the ticket, the hotel. Then I thought about it for two days. Or it, rather, it thought on me. If you get what I mean.
I tried to find a free place through the Peace Corps couchsurfing Facebook to stay in San Francisco. Two people offered, but they were an hour and a half away by bus. So I did something I swore I would never do again. I signed up to sleep in a room with three strangers.
“My god no, I am too old for that shit,” I’d thought just a year ago. I was at the Lola conference in Portland, and Tanya from Our Next Life, on of the uber-frugal retire early bloggers, was talking about how someone had kept her up in her dorm. I just shook my head, thankful I’d never have to deal with that again.
I have done the hostels, the bed-collapsing, 2 a.m. drunk guys, 8 a.m. fart noises hostels, for many of the trips to the city when I was in Peace Corps. That part of my life had come to a close, I’d thought.
And yet here I am, in a (thankfully) all-female dorm at San Francisco’s HI Downtown. Because I said I would do the cheapest thing, and this is the cheapest thing.
If have the top bunk, if you must know.
Everyone was lovely. If anything, I was the jerk because I had to get up at 6:30. Luckily I was so worried about it that I anxiety-woke before my alarms went off. I’ve met a girl from Hong Kong, one from Brasil, and another from Spain. I met a dancer from Australia, who saved a year and a half to come to America for three months to audition on each coast.
This morning, I went to the conference. My awesome boss/client Nir was, for once, not in email form. I got a free bagel and coffee. I got to sit in a very expensive room to sit in. I wrote 10 pages of notes for my future business plans.
This is how the woman next to me took her notes:
Back at the hostel, I realized the kitchen here is gorgeous and I’ve never cooked by myself in a hostel before. I really should. I finally know enough about cooking to throw something together. I probably won’t tonight. It’s 8:30, and I’ll do that thing where I get to uncomfortable hunger and think, Well now I have to go to a restaurant due to hangriness.
I keep promising myself this will all be funny one day. When I’m staying at the… I don’t know… I want to dream big… when I’m at the Hilton. With a room all by myself. I’ll look back on this and laugh and shake my head.
To make myself feel better, I keep reminding myself how funny this will be.
But what if it’s not? What if I stay a writer, and I just keep making this amount, and I go to conferences and I am in expensive rooms that I got with social capital, but I stay in very cheap rooms I have to buy with actual, god-fearing money?
That would be ok too.
I keep telling myself.
I’m not doing my Monday check-in list because A. I’m tired. B. I’m scared to look, which is why I’m pretending to be tired. I do have to pee though, so that’s a reason to go. I hope I don’t wake my roommate.