I have been laboring over a post that will express my political opinion questions. It's just not coming together like I want it to. So instead of writing like I should be I was reading and I came upon a charming post about house guests. It brought back so many fond memories of my childhood that I decided to drop the political piece (for now) and write about something that doesn't make me so damn mad feel so frustrated.
I grew up in a small town in Indiana. My father's family had lived there for years. It was the kind of place where when you went to a friend's house and met their parents, they would tell you stories of how they knew your dad, uncle, grandma, aunt, cousin and on and on. It was a great way to grow up. It gave you a sense of who you are and where you came from. You knew your roots and felt grounded by them.
We never locked the doors to our house or our cars. Keys to the cars were left in an obvious place. My father wanted to be sure that if a friend or relative needed anything and we weren't home, they would be able to help themselves to whatever was needed. This resulted many times in my father needing something and having to drive all around town to find his borrowed tools, household items, etc…. Even so, the rule stood firm, you DON'T lock the doors.
Or course, the same open-door policy applied while we were home. People were always dropping in. When I think about how hectic my life is today, I think that is what I miss the most; the memories of an unplanned visit with a friend, chatting on the back porch with relatives, and unexpected guests for any meal, be it breakfast, dinner (aka lunch) and supper. (aka dinner)
You never came down to the table in the morning half-dressed because you never knew who was joining us for breakfast. My mother always prepared more food than we needed for just this reason. If for some reason she didn't have enough when a friend stopped by, she would subtly whisper to us, "FHB". This meant "Family hold back." and we knew to make sure we left enough food so that the guest would feel welcome and would get enough to eat.
Many periods of my childhood were spent with short or long-term house guests. Once, my brother's girlfriend, her sister and her sister's toddler son came to live with us for awhile. My cousin came to live with us during her senior year in high school for reasons that were never explained to me nor did I question them. It was the norm. And I loved it!
During a blizzard that brought the Midwest to a halt in 1977, I was a teenager. It was common in our area at that time for everyone to have a CB radio in their home and in their cars. I guess maybe the CB was a precursor to the internet? I don't know, I guess I've never thought about it that way. But I digress. During the blizzard, many stranded travelers were brought from the nearby interstate and highways into our school's gymnasium. There were pleas on the radio for volunteers to take families into their homes until the roads were cleared. My cousins got a great family of four and they all remained friends, visiting back and forth, long after the blizzard. I remember being so disappointed that by the time my dad went to the school, there was no one left. That was the kind of town it was. We never met a stranger. Everyone was a friend.
Most of my immediate family has moved from there but we still go back to visit on a fairly regular basis and I'm happy to say that not much has changed. Visitors still come a-callin'.
I have tried to create that same sort of feeling in my own home. Friends tell me that I've succeeded but I don't really think it's the same. Over the years, we've had many, many houseguests and I love it. Afterall, when you move to Florida, they will come. But I miss the drop-ins, the unexpected visit. I guess it doesn't help that we live in a rural area about ten miles from the nearest town. But what I miss most of all is just the time to sit and visit with friends and family. I have a friend in Orlando that invites me for the weekend to "porch sit". Porch sitting involves consuming massive amounts of wine and snacks while sitting on her patio talk, talk, talking until we can do it no more. These are times I cherish. They just don't happen often enough. How did we get to this place where every waking moment of our lives is scheduled? Tell me, do you long for the simpler life too? How do we get back there?