House guests. The calm before and after the storm.

Written before the storm:

Usually, I have a bit of the slob thing going on at home.  Today, even the electrical cord to the pencil sharpener has been dusted.   Not that my house guests - my mom and sister, due in tomorrow  - would mind a little lived-in ambiance, but I’m so excited to have them here, I can’t help myself. 

But house guests are tough when you’re me.  As I scrubbed and cleaned over the past couple of weeks, there was no music blasting from the stereo, no play-list on my head phones.  It was quiet - just me and the vacuum cleaner.  Even when I’m in the car, I wait a few minutes to turn on the radio, otherwise the blast of noise is jarring.  

Some families are naturally loud, and that’s not us, but we three ladies have lots of catching up to do, and we like to get silly.  There will be triple the energy and one third of the quiet that I’m used to.  And as much as I appreciate a good, deep conversation, I seem to get talked-out quicker than most. 

And can I mention the bathroom?  When I need it, I need it.  Enough said. 

Because my company this time is family, the commotion and disruption will be familiar if not entirely comfortable.  With other guests, there’s awkwardness to boot.  I never quite know what to do with those down times when we’re not eating or actively engaged in something.  Do we sit and talk all that time?  Can I desert them to go chill in my room for a bit?  Is it OK to leave them in the living room by themselves, or is that being rude? 

I once had a friend - let’s call her Beth - whose sister was upset that Beth had invited a girlfriend to spend a couple nights with the family at their vacation home.  When Beth told this story, the group of listeners seemed baffled with the sister’s discomfort.  “I totally get it,” I thought, but as the lone sympathizer, I kept my mouth shut.     

I’ve never asked my more gregarious friends how they do it - how they manage with house guests - because I’m embarrassed that I haven’t mastered such a basic relationship skill.  I suppose if it’s easy, they don’t think about it.  What about you?   If house guests are a challenge, how do you manage?  

Written after the storm:

I walk around the house picking up stray half-finished cups of coffee and collecting sweaters and jackets borrowed by my warmer-weather women-folk.  I sit at my desk for the first time in a week to write this ending to my blog.  The quiet soothes me like the portable heater at my feet.  The bathroom is mine all day if I want it.  And I can’t wait for these wonderful women to come again.