After the last couple of weeks, I have come to the conclusion that it is easier to be the host than to be a guest. I had this epiphany while staying at Robin and John’s last week in Tallahassee. I felt like I was under foot most of the time, interfered with their routine, left Sydney in their care more often than not, and constantly asked if this or that was okay to do, drink, eat, use, etc. You get the picture. It is one of my great pleasures to have visitors and I absolutely love it when friends and family come to stay for however long! I happily anticipate their arrival by getting things ready and I enjoy every minute of the company — shopping, fixing meals, sharing meals, making fires, and pampering guests by making sure coffee is ready when they wake up or getting them a cup of tea at night. Why is it, then, that I cannot accept the same?
I don’t think this phenomenon is specific to me. This is something I notice when people are in my home as well. Not my children of course but anyone else that has come here. Now, it must be said that when my friend Kim came to stay overnight, she seemed to be able to accept the role as guest and it made it easy and comfortable for me as host. When Lynda stayed for almost a week, she also was able to settle in and help herself, ask for things, or just be as comfortable as possible without involving me. It’s a strange thing to think about and I have no answer other than to say that I hope everyone who comes to stay here will feel comfortable.
It also must be said that I was totally comfortable and at home at Robin and John’s. After all we’ve known each other for 36 years! But…I maintain that the work involved in hosting friends is far less stressful than my own expectations of myself as a “good guest,” whatever that is. I tried — at Lynda’s in Weaverville and at Robin’s in Tallahassee. One thing I do know — at Robin’s I can be a good guest by recognizing that Sunday afternoon is time to make myself scarce so my host can relax for a few minutes. Lynda likes her time at the computer to check email — she is such a good host that, unlike me (what I’m doing now while Beth is upstairs watching the news), Lynda will stop whatever she is doing to engage with me. There’s a fine line between being an unsociable guest and allowing your host a few minutes of private time to get things done.
So after all these years of being a guest and hosting people, I realize it’s not the wine, gift, or special coffee I bring and it’s not making my bed each day. It’s not taking your host out to lunch or dinner — it’s allowing my host to enjoy having me there and to have fun with the process of welcoming me into her home. It’s not really in my nature to do that but I’m determined to try! Please come visit and we can talk about this!