I’ve written about hospitality before. Writing and talking about things is not the same as doing things. Can I get a heartfelt “Amen?”
For the last two months, I have had the good fortune to live in two places. I’ve had my apartment on the Mason Family Compound and my new old house on the hill in town. I’d slowly started moving things down from the Compound at a snail’s pace. There was no need to speed; I had time.
Then I decided to push the envelope and I invited some dear Florida friends to stay at my house for the Moxie Festival and beyond. Come to the Moxie Motel, I said.
And they arrived!
They were perfect guests and they “test drove” my house for me. They discovered night-time clicks and bangs, squeaky doors, and kitchen traffic patterns. They did a lot of cooking and since there were teenage children involved, they wore lots of shoes and read books and crumbled cookies at their leisure. I think they liked the location and they walked to and fro, from the library to the Dairy Maid to Faye’s Barber Shop.
At some point during their stay, I realized that I was a control freak. I had professed and embraced hospitality in theory but my years of living in a chicken-coop-sized condo had reduced my understanding and practice of it. Not everyone needs to have everything in its place all the time and some people don’t fret to see nine pairs of shoes lined up in the hallway.
I knew my Bible and I knew what it says about showing hospitality without grumbling and entertaining angels unaware. Why was it so hard for me to live and let others live in my house?
I did the best I could, but I was upset with myself. Hospitality was more than a plywood pineapple or a wooden pineapple candy container. I had measured myself against such hospitality giants as Conrad Hilton and J.W. Marriott and I had come up short. My pineapple was empty; maybe I was really Leona Helmsley.
My guests are waking up right now. Their suitcases and sneakers are lined up in the hallway, like disheveled drunken soldiers after a night on the town.
I miss them already.
I’ll keep working on this hospitality thing and I’ll keep inviting people over. You know what another lover of order, Helen, would say:
Practice makes perfect!
Thanks for sharing your very honest post about struggling with the issue of hospitality. There is a lot to say on the subject, like how we don’t get together and have people over like in days past.
I liked this line, “They were perfect guests and they ‘test drove’ my house for me.” Thanks for hosting my recent book launch, and offering a chance to “test drive” the house as a party pad. It was fun and generous on your part.
I remember your visits to Indiana when “the boy” was small and we were sitting around the table in Hobart saying “nutty bar!” and tooling around the roadways of northwest Indiana, looking for Irene Holinga (sp?) political billboards, listening to Midge Ure and other 80s new wave blasting from the tape deck of my ’68 Impala, with smoke billowing out the back. We missed you for weeks after you left, as you were our tether to Maine and represented that slim hope that one day, we might return (which we did, in 1987). Of course, some of this is represented in “Moscow Mutual” from the new book of essays (shameless plug).
You’ll miss your guests, until they return again, or you visit them in Florida. In the meantime, keep working on the challenges that make us human.
What a joy to be able to celebrate your new home with your friends from Florida. I know what you mean – I put so much pressure on myself when I host friends. You then realize to just go with the flow and let things unfold organically.
You were a wonderful hostess to a passel of not-always-observant guests. We are very grateful.
I am plotting and scheming for future visits. Someone left a small pebble here full of happy memories!
We also left a box of instant oatmeal. I recommend you eat it. Oatmeal makes a poor memento.