Monday, May 10, 2021

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Couch Surfing

Adam and Iris


20170629-IMG_6960In the year 2017, you wouldn’t think that two people would need to hide their relationship from each other’s families. I can’t even think of a time where someone told me that their religion was stopping them from being with someone, outside of it being a plot point of a good romance movie. My couchsurfers for July, who have decided their names should be Adam and Iris because of this, are taking a road trip across the United States that started at the end of the May and will go until the first week of September.

You two are in your early 20s doing this massive trip across the United States. How are you affording this?

Adam: We are just being very organized. We found out we could afford to spend $98 per day on this trip. Obviously some things cost more than others, so if we spend more one day that just means we spend less another day.

Iris: We don’t always stay in hotels. Sometimes we camp, sleep in the car or couchsurf. It seems like a lot of money still, and it is. But we are both 21 years old. We have plenty of time to make more money in life.

You are still spending almost $10,000 this summer. You could buy a car with that. Was this 100 percent self-funded?

Prep Iowa

Iris: This trip was entirely self-funded. We both have scholarships, so our dorms and tuition are paid for, but we still both work as much as possible.

Adam: There is no pressure for me to make money right now, but I work as a much as possible. It’s a different feeling knowing I don’t need to. We both have the opportunity to make some money during the school year rather than wait and work during the summer. Personally I would rather be working when the weather is cold and then be able to enjoy the summer and see the world. Most people have the idea that they will see the world when they get older, but I still want some adventure. If I have two kids, I am not going try and sleep in my car with them at a truck stop for the pure fun of it. Right now I can do it.

Sleeping in your car doesn’t seem like it could be the safest option. Did anything ever happen?

Adam: We did have a bear pay us a visit one night. It was a little tense, but it was more exciting than anything else. It just walked up, put its nose on the window and then eventually walked away. The bear seemed huge in comparison to our small Prius.

Iris: I guess it was a nice bear. We were never scared, but it can be a little nerve-wracking when you wake up to a giant wet nose on your driver’s side windows.

There is some controversy to this trip, as you two don’t want your families to find out that you two have been traveling as a couple rather than friends. What is the situation?

Iris: I come from a very strict and conservative Christian background, and Adam here is a Muslim. My family would be very upset if they knew that we were dating. They don’t know he is a Muslim right now because they think we are just friends. But if they knew we were more than that, it would be the first thing they would ask.

It seems very silly to think that is even an issue with people in the modern times. Why do you think that is?

Adam: They are just old school. It is sort of like when a city tries to gentrify the slum neighborhoods and make it nice and hip. The people who are brought up a certain way don’t know any other way of thinking or living. I also don’t think it’s right to force-feed change on anyone. Our parents don’t need to accept us as couple if they don’t want to. I just don’t feel like dealing with that issue right now.

Iris: If we decide to stay together, get married etc., we will figure out a way to tell them. But it doesn’t matter right now, and bringing it to their attention would just bring a lot of stress into their lives and into ours. At the end of the day, what is it all worth? If we don’t stay together, at least we will have this memory that we are creating this summer. ♦

Kristian Day is a filmmaker, musician and writer based in Des Moines. He has couch-surfed across the west coast as well through the Midwest. He also offers his home up to unknown travelers passing through Des Moines… for free. Follow him on Twitter at @kristianmday.


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