Predictability is a tricky thing. If you ask me, most things in life are unpredictable. When we are kids, we don't really have too much control - we live where are parents choose to live and mostly do what they would like us to do - so we don't even think about how to predict. I realize that the fact that I was raised internationally would predict the fact that I would forever be filled with wonder about the world. In a word, wanderlust probably defines me. But I could not have predicted what that would mean for the future and how it would impact my life. I should have predicted that I would take the opportunity to travel every chance I got and squeeze in a study abroad experience wherever possible and choose to live in a foreign country after school, but I didn't predict how the places I went and the people I met would shape me in adulthood. I should have predicted my restless spirit and unease about staying in one spot, but I could not have predicted how hard it was to find a 'home'.
Now let's throw something else into the mix, another person. I sometimes like to tease my husband Kyle that I always thought I would marry a foreigner, ie not an American. Yes, I am an American but since I was not raised in this country of liberty I never thought I would relate enough to another American to marry them - especially one born and raised in a very small town in Oregon. It just so happens that this Oregon boy was the 'black sheep'. He knew that he was not meant for just this small town, but that there was a huge world out there to explore and he decided it would be his mission in life. He wanted to explore so badly that he lied on his Spanish placement test so that he could study abroad in Argentina, even though he spoke very poor Spanish and the entire semester was to be conducted in Spanish. As they say, where there is a will there's a way.
It just so happens that as Kyle was returning from this semester in Argentina and I was leaving for a semester in New Zealand, we crossed paths. Our future together would be molded by travel. We reunited after I returned from New Zealand, but not for long. After a year, Kyle would move to Costa Rica while I finished my final year of school (which would also include some solo time in Argentina). He returned from Costa Rica in time for me to graduate, but it was not in our future to stay stationary. Two weeks after my graduation, we moved to South Korea to teach English. Neither of us had ever taught, neither of us had spent much time in Asia, neither of us knew anyone there, but the fact that it meant another chance to live abroad? We were sold.
I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you already know the international side of us and our love for travel. Some of you know how we met. Some of you know all the places we've been and all our crazy stories. What does this have to do with our house? Well neither of us could have predicted that we would ever find a place we even remotely wanted to press pause and 'settle' in let alone purchase a home there. We had to first come to the realization that one of the things that we most loved about travelling were the people that we met along the way. Yes, you see amazing places and 'wonders of the world' when travelling, but most of the things that stay imprinted in your memory are not what you saw but who you were with. We didn't want to be the bohemian travelers of our families forever (although there are days I still long for this), but wanted to create our own place. A place that we could welcome others from all over the world and give them the type of experiences that shaped our past travels. In sum, the best hosts for travelers are travelers themselves. Travelers want someone open and friendly but most importantly genuine. When you are with people you know you can trust, even though technically they are strangers, your time travelling will be much more enjoyable.
It would be a bit overwhelming if I spewed out our entire history of moving place to place, but the important thing is somehow the road led us to San Diego. San Diego encompasses the best of Southern California living - the weather is perfection, the beaches and terrain are beautiful, and the people are down to earth. I should note that we aren't really experts on all of San Diego, our bubble is specific to one small area of San Diego - North Park. North Park was first put on the nation's radar when Forbes included it in the best 'hipster' neighborhoods in the county. I'm not really going to get into defining the term 'hipster'. We could probably get in a never ending discussion about what a 'hipster' is, just as we could talk about if God is real... We knew pretty soon after we moved here and rented a house that this was the place to actually put down some roots. If that means we are super liberal hipsters in your eyes, so be it. Although I still don't really know what that means. We just like quirky and interesting people that are passionate about life and the world and there are a lot of those people here.
We were about six months into renting a house in North Park when we decided to be renegades and start doing something 'illegal' - welcome strangers into our home to stay with us. It was so crazy at the time! I remember the night Kyle sat me down on the sofa and said 'so there is this thing called Airbnb and you can rent your spare room to travelers. Want to do it?'. I thought he was mad at first, but then realized we had both stayed in numerous hostels and bed and breakfasts throughout the world and it would be pretty fun to switch roles and become the hosts. That is how it all started - when we started to welcome the world to us. It's hard to even remember what it was like to welcome our first guests. I'm sure I probably rearranged and fussed with everything in the guest room to make sure it was absolutely perfect. Now it's all a blur. At that house, in our spare guestroom, we welcomed over 50 guests. We loved hosting so much that when it came time to buy our home a few blocks away we actually remodeled a random outdoor patio building into a custom vacation cottage in the backyard.
Welcoming strangers into your home often turns into meeting amazing people that you end up being friends with. We were hosting a German couple in our rental home when it was time to move into the new place. They loved living in our crazy house with our crazy pets so much that they actually moved with us to the new place. Not only did they move with us, they actually packed up and moved almost the entire house while we were out of town attending wedding. So if you open up your home to travelers, you might end up with some Germans that move your house for you. At one point during those first six months in the new home, we had 'the German' living in the sun room, two girls (Illinois & Zimbabwe) in the spare bedroom, and another friend living in the cottage during renovations. Every time someone moved on, there was someone waiting to take their place. When the German finished his studies and moved back to Germany & the girl from Zim moved back home, a South African was there to fill the void. When our friend in the cottage found a permanent place to live, a guy from Seattle that was into urban farming moved in and helped transform our place into a producing homestead. Then the guy from Seattle moved into the house and we started officially renting the cottage on Airbnb. While he was still living with us, a friend of a friend from China moved into the sun room. Eventually he upgraded to the bedroom when it became available and the girlfriend of 'the German' returned to inhabit the sun room for a few months. Just this week, our 'resident Chinese' moved back to China and all our spare rooms are now vacant for the first time in history.
All of the people that have entered our front door have shaped our home. This house has never been just our house and we hope it never will be. All of these travelers helped us realize that we can grow roots and yet still be connected to the world. They are also the ones that christened our home 'Granada House'.