As they used to say on Monty Python, and now for something completely different …
When I first moved into this apartment, I tried to have someone over at least once a month. My first guest came in the afternoon for milk and cookies on the balcony. Then there was the first dinner guest indoors. Then the first dinner guest on the balcony. Then the first dinner guest I let help prepare the meal with me and wash dishes with me afterwards. Then the first couple. Then the first dinner party. Then the first person to — this is hard to admit — beat me at Scrabble right there at my own table.
Partly it was to force me to clean the place up. Partly it was to cultivate some friendships. But mostly it was simply for the pleasure of making food for people, for having them at my table for a meal or a board game or band practice or even a coloring playdate. For the joy of hospitality. For company.
Last year began with the news of Dad’s lung cancer diagnosis. I think I spent three of January’s weekends away from this home, going to that home, being there for his first round of chemo, going again to represent the Browns when my great-aunt turned 90. It set the tone for the year. I was away 17 of last year’s weekends — fully a third of the year, not at all unusual for some people, but unusual for me. Some of the trips were to be with him and some of them were for professional development and some of them were pure balm. But it was a lot of traveling, and a lot of time here with a suitcase lying open on my bedroom floor.
I didn’t have one person over for a meal in 2013. I didn’t have anyone over, period, except the friends who came to feed my cat and water my plants while I was away.
This year, January was graced by a lovely day visit from family and lovely weekend visit from a traveling friend. Since then, though, the monastic habits of last year have continued. I want to change that.
For one thing, I want to share this view. No reason to hoard this balcony all to myself.
Care to fill that empty chair?
I’m serious. I want to start having folks over regularly again. If you live in central Arkansas and you’d like to come over sometime, let me know. If you don’t but you’re going to be traveling through, let me know. When and how we spend time — well, there are a lot of options. We’ll figure it out. Right now, I’m simply issuing the invitation. Want to come over?
Think about it. Take your time. I’ll leave the light on for you.
Do you have people over? Do they have you over? Did they stop when your family grew? Do you have a go-to recipe (like my black bean and chicken soup) that you habitually serve? Do you want to invite folks but something’s hindering you? Does the phrase “Company’s comin'” give you anticipation or dread?