In the history of me not living in NY, I've had a lot of guests. And I love them all. I love the ones that arrive kids in tow (early to bed and early to rise!) giving The Hub and I the chance to show off our Aunting and Uncling skills. I also love the ones that just wanna drink and smoke cigarettes all night - appealing to my inner rock star.
I'm keen on the people that arrive with an agenda in hand and a list of sites to see and I admire the ones that aren't 100% sure what city they are visiting.
I value guests that express an explicit preference when offered a choice as much as I value the ones who trust us to show them a good time.
I adore the ones who find my current city of residence a fascinating place and want to know all the details of its history, its culture, its flora and fauna and I embrace the ones who just want to sit in the sun all day with a few crosswords, a cool drink and the promise of a decent restaurant later in the evening.
If I could be a professional hostess without investing the time or money it takes to actually be successful at it, I would in a heartbeat. I love guests. Plain and simple.
Which is good, because between me and The Hub, we invite everybody from god to his grandmother to stay with us. The nice thing is that each and every invitation is issued with the most genuine sincerity. It's true, people. To all my former and future guests - we WANT you here, honest.
And we've had all sorts. Our oldest friends, people I had never met before, family members, work colleagues, folks I had merely a passing acquaintance with....they've all come through our door. In Florida ours was always the party house. In Dublin there were so many random lacrosse related people staying at our apartment we dubbed the place a "Lacrostel."
One of my favorite things about having guests is that you get to experience your hometown anew each time; see it through fresh eyes, explore a here-to-for unexplored corner, gain a novel appreciation, build new memories atop the old ones.
The guests you don't know at all, or don't know well, can be the most interesting. I won't pretend that I haven't experienced a moment's pause now and then, a twinge of doubt as someone planned a trip and I thought "I don't really know this person."
What kind of visitor will they be? Will we get along? Do they realize we.... have three cats? don't go to church? smoke cigarettes? store lacrosse gear in our guest bedroom? and so on and so forth.
But you know what? We haven't had a visitor horror story yet - no one has ever been less than gracious and I feel gratitude to the universe for putting each and every one of them in my path, whether just for a night or for a full fledged holiday. Maybe they simply crashed on our couch, shared a morning cup of coffee with us and then did their own thing. Or maybe we played tour guides on speed and never gave them a moment's peace. It's all good.
So it was with this open mind and heart (and maybe just a little bit of that aforementioned twinge of doubt) that I looked forward to Sean & Nancy visiting. Nancy is an old high school friend of The Hub, and she and I had hung out a few times approximately one thousand years ago. Sean was a complete stranger to me, though I think Chris had met him once. At any rate, Sean & Nancy met us in Dublin for the big birthday extravaganza and then returned to Vienna with us for another week's worth of planned Euro-bliss.
Thanks to Facebook it didn't feel quite like strangers were coming to visit - but it wasn't too far from it. My inner Worrying Wanda whispered "Do they realize they'll be sleeping on a futon in the living room? Will they get tired from all the walking? Do they know Chris has to work while they are visiting? Oh god - is our weirdo toilet going to make it awkward?"
I gave Wanda a slap upside the head to shut her up and looked forward to getting to know our next visitors.
Well, people.....lemme just say....what a joy and pleasure to have confirmed what I'd already suspected through the magic of the internet. I'd be hard pressed to find another couple so thoroughly like-minded to us. They are a pair of funny, intelligent, silly-in-love, chilled out goof-balls and they made it more than easy for us to to play host.
We shared a ton of laughs and ended the week with a few catch phrases and at least two theme songs - a sure sign of good times. We nearly fell all over each other agreeing on liberal politics, parenting techniques and the beauty of a simplified life.
We exchanged ideas and agreed with each other some more about today's rampant consumerism, good beer & good wine, the sad lack of vegetables in Austrian cuisine, tattoos and the pleasures of sitting out rain storms under café canopies (with full glasses of good beer and good wine, of course.)
Sean & Nancy mixed well with others, were game for anything (Gogol Bordello!!), washed the dishes at my apartment more than once, never complained, liked sleeping in (on?) a Boatel in Bratislava and never stop cracking jokes. And if I could think of a more ringing endorsement for having this pair as guests, I'd be typing it right now.
So you crazy kids - come back anytime. You will always be welcome to visit no matter where we live (and I promise to warn you in advance if you'll be sleeping on a blow-up mattress on the floor with our nine cats and a sack of lacrosse balls as a pillow and using an outhouse to pee.)