When I pointed my little car back towards DeKalb in October, 2007, I had no home. A loyal friend didn't even have to think twice; she just opened her door and put fresh sheets on a bed. Soon enough, of course, the housing thing was sorted out, and I didn't need her hospitality. But I will never ever forget the generosity.
Everybody knows this, but it's the background of my argument, so hang on... Hospitality is derived from the words for "love" and "stranger." It's about inviting someone over the threshold, making room, making space. And the thing, of course, is that everyone changes in the process. Seeing someone across the threshold is no small thing, it turns out.
And now it's my turn. A certain child of mine, whose name I am not at liberty to disclose, is suffering and reorienting herself after ending a relationship. Minutes after I had gone to bed the other night, I heard the door open -clearly someone with a key, I figured- and I saw her at the door with her suitcase. Uh oh. I put fresh sheets on her bed, poured us both a glass of wine, and we set about the business of getting on with it.
And this morning, I picked up a sock off the floor and smiled. There are socks on my floor again! That part will probably lose its charm fairly quickly. Remember those empty rooms I showed you? Now look.
We'll see how this changes us both. My heart is broken that she's sad, but not-so-secretly I'm delighted that I have company (and this company). That's why I kept this house!