After my friend Ania left my place a few weeks ago, where I had been hosting her while she couchsurfed in New York City, I decided to get more actively involved in the Couchsurfing community. I couldn’t continue to mooch off of other’s hospitality and not pass it down, so last week I went with my newest friend, Gian, to an event posted on the Couchsurfing website.
I actually met Gian through Ania, as he offered to also show her around during her stay in New York. Gian is from Chile, and just completed a 3-year stint working at the Chilean embassy in Warsaw; he recently got transferred to the Chilean consulate in New York, which is what tied the three of us together. Gian is quite active in the Couchsurfing community, and he invited me on the weekend before last to a dim sum brunch in Chinatown with some other Couchsurfers.
It was a pleasant meal, and we were quite the diverse group. I was the only native New Yorker, though I have Indonesian and German roots, Gian is Chilean, and there were others from Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Sri Lanka, and California; there was someone from every populated continent at our table. Afterwards, we strolled out to walk along the Hudson River, and to New York’s popular High Line Park. That Sunday rewarded us with perfect 24°C (75°F) weather, and we found a spot on the grass to sit.
Later, Gian and I left the group, as a few other friends of mine called to say they were nearby and having cocktails; how could I say no? We met them and drank, and we drank until we became hungry. Gian soon left temporarily to do some work-related gig, and the rest of us sauntered on over to Otto, Mario Batali’s restaurant.
As we were eating (and drinking more), Gian called and said that he was meeting two Couchsurfing members from Finland. These two sisters, Ida and Oona, met him and they came and joined us for dinner. Later in the week, Gian and I would meet the girls again for some drinks at the Jane Hotel, and then this past weekend, on Friday night, we went out drinking yet again.
After hopping to several bars, the four of us came across a tiny, corner bar in the Lower East Side that looked ideal. Sitting down, drinks were ordered, and we continued talking and laughing gaily as the alcohol had its way. About half an hour later, Gian whispers to us that Jude Law is sitting near him at the bar. The girls almost wet their pants, and there was a pure, unadulterated joy that came out which was not going to be contained.
Cell phones came out, cameras were pulled out of purses, and text messages were making their way over to Finland, to tell their friends of this exciting development. I tried to control the situation, explaining to them that he is a normal guy who just wants to have a normal night out, and it was everything I could do to keep their cameras pointed away.
Jude Law soon went out for a cigarette, and Ida and Oona, who had never smoked in their lives, started begging me for cigarettes. Finally I gave in, because how could I ruin an exciting moment for them? They went out and Gian and I smiled to ourselves. Soon after, the girls were back, proudly proclaiming that not only had they smoked their first cigarettes with Jude Law, he had also lit it for them and shaken their hands.
Well, at least they’ll remember my city!
* I got this title from one of my favorite songs of the New York City-area band Brand New, “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad.”