There were two guests at my place this week.
Hosting guests is one of the activities that help me keep care of my home.
There was a time when the mess would only be cleared when someone visited me. A reflex due to a contrast between the carelessness of youth and a deeply ingrained respect for the comfort of visitors. A principle acquired from my mum says that receiving someone properly goes necessarily through making every effort possible to make them feel home, and that is now part of my life.
Then it happened that I grew up (a bit). I started to realize the truth behind the age-old French saying: “charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même,” and that the way to build the feeling of being at home for myself would go through making the kind of efforts I deploy for guests, for myself.
That was the moment when vacuum-cleaning, dish washing, mopping, laundry and disposing of the cat’s litter became pleasurable (sometimes even fun), instead of a necessary chore to avoid as long and as often as possible. That was also the moment when I started actually caring about home decoration in shops in all places I visit. After that I would choose my furniture not only for practical aspects but also for the overall harmony they would bring at the place it would be eventually fitted. And so on; the list is long.
Oddly enough, it coincides more-or-less with my settling in Rotterdam. (ok, not that odd, but the coincidence is part of another story.)
But this is not a happy-ending story. I sometimes lose sight of the feeling of being at home when it becomes part of the invisible world of the daily routine.
Then come guests. Those people I like being with, for which I would just do the little extra that I can share with them and of which I know that it would make myself happy if it was reciprocated. Like preparing breakfast in the morning, or setting up beds in advance, and so on.
And doing so breaks the routine and brings the feeling of being at home back into sight.