Years ago I bookmarked a pair of housesitting websites, storing the idea in the back of my [busy] brain as something I was going to do later in life. I tend to do this, "save for later" which may sound like a - that will never happen scenario, but thus far my track record is pretty good at circling back (Teaching in Korea, backpacking SE Asia, Angkor Wat with "the best Tuk Tuk driver", Americorps, etc. etc. There are ideas, jobs and learning experiences hidden in all the random corners of my brain. After reconnecting with an old Couchsurfing host, the idea of housesitting was brought back to the forefront of my brain. Joe has been jumping around the country for the past year housesitting, and I was lucky enough to join him on two this year, one in Madison, the other in Seattle. Having the summer (mostly) free I decided to sign up and see what kind of adventures I could get into myself. My first was in Nashville, and not wanting to drive 8 hours straight, decided to break up the drive with a stop in Bloomington, taking advantage of my old love, Couchsurfing.
Bloomington is such a gem, tucked into the barren, windmill laden landscape of Indiana. I struggle to think of a reason to visit this state and definitely see it worthy of being in the "flyover" territory, but Bloomington has its' charm. Not to mention a stellar University, which was the second half of my motivation to visit, as I'm in the market for a new school to house me for a few years - PhD pursuits, insane or ambitious?
Luckily I found an amazing host, Dairo, who is originally from Colombia, spent years living in Miami and for the last six has come to call Bloomington home. It was very cool to hang out with Dairo who quickly made me remember why I love the Couchsurfing community so much, and the energy it gives me to be back on the road. We talked about traveling, Couchsufing, ignorant Americans and a multitude of other topics. He was also kind enough to give me his version of a tour of the IU campus, providing pertinent information for someone considering a move.
The campus is beautiful and exactly the kind of setting I want out of a future school, but I'm really not sure if I can bring myself to committing to an extended contract in the Midwest. Bloomington definitely has more of the culture I'm looking for out of a future home, but it's still just a bubble in no-mans-land. Also, winter still exists in Indiana, and if I have the choice avoiding an extended suffering of this season would be at the top of my list. I was planning to head out early the following day, but per Dairo's recommendation and my faint memory of having visited on my first trip, decided to stop by the Buddhist meditation center. A quick 10 minute drive from downtown and you're in the solitude and energy of nature, history and spirit. Having listened to The Art of Happiness on my way to Indiana, this visit felt timely, but I always enjoy these visits, in fact I've been looking for a meditation center I can go spend a few days - week, maybe I should just go back to Indiana...