Thursday, September 21, 2017

On Having Houseguests (and Liking It)

My parents have been with us for this past week, and this morning we rode the Tube out to Heathrow to see them off. It was a good visit, and their stay here in our house was made easier than ever by the fact that our living room - which doubles as our guest room - has a door. Plus, we have that second loo. It's night and day different from having houseguests in our old house. It is more comfortable for everyone.

As an introvert, it can be hard to have people stay with us, but what I'm now finding is that I can truly enjoy the process. I like the part when we prepare for our guests - it's always good to have a reason to tidy up and make the house look its best - and the part when we see people we love and get to spend time with them. The anticipation of having a short time that is different than our day to day also appeals. I like going places that we might not take the time to go and having more people around my table. (In this new house, I also have a bigger table.)

And then there is the part when they head home. As much as I love each and every one of the people who have come to stay with us, and I am happy to have had them here, there's something truly special about the hush that falls over our house when guests have gone. It's not that it's quieter than any other time, of course. It's the magic of comparison. It is quieter than it's been when we have had extra people in the house. And after putting off laundry and dishes and such to be with guests and take them out and about, I find I am happy to get back to the usual housekeeping business. Returning the house to its usual arrangement is soothing. It feels peaceful.

We've got this afternoon to attend to this task, and tomorrow also. If possible, I try to bookend visits with a day or two of nothing-in-particular. Before arrival, the air is charged with anticipation. I've long given up on the idea of having everything perfectly clean and organized before guests arrive, but we do want to make things our own version of "just right" to make sure our guests are comfortable. After departure, that charge is gone, and it is like the return to normal breathing after a good run. The process is not quite over, but the hardest work is done.


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