It’s nice to have houseguests, most of the time. I mean, bad guests are the worst but presumably, people that you know and like well enough to have them stay at your house are good people (recently I have experienced a major exception to this rule, which I will not mention except to say that wow, bad houseguests are bad.)
I have a pal in town this weekend, a friend from high school, and so far it’s been great. But I get a lot of anxiety about having people over, just in the sense of being judged.
Not that my friend is judgey. But still, having someone share the minutiae of your life is a little bit like being under the microscope. You know, you’ve developed a routine of pooping and cats fighting and eating at off times and whatever other weird compromises you have to make in your life to make it function, and then someone else comes into it and you feel nervous about doing your routines in front of them.
Or maybe I just get extra skittish. The thing is, I want to show my friends a good time, and I want them to think I’m living a nice life, with nice friends and a nice apartment. I would be sad if someone I loved thought I was living in a crap shack or something. In general, though, despite all that potential for worrying, I do feel okay about a new person sharing my space.
Where it gets a little weird is when there are multiple hosts. Not like me and Frank—since we only have one house, we only count once, host-wise—but other people who your friend is also friends with, but who you are not friends with.
For example, my houseguest this weekend has another friend in the city that she is splitting her time with. This person is, as far as I can tell, really cool. She’s fun and interesting, has lots of ideas of things to do and pals and interests. The problem is just that they aren’t the same as mine.
When there are two people making two sets of suggestions, it gets a little awkward. I can’t help feeling like the other friend thinks my restaurant/bar/activity ideas are stupid or something. It makes me question what I’m into (nerdy food stuff, nerdy cocktails, comedy) just because she is into different stuff (architecture, visual art, going to school.)
It’s fine when the guest is with one or the other of us, but when it’s all three, or even worse, the two hosts, their friends, and the guest, it’s impossible to make a decision because nobody wants to be the one to impose their vision on the evening.
But at the same time, nobody wants to feel like a weirdo for suggesting the things they normally would. I’ll be honest, when I’ve got a guest in town, I try and class things up a little. Clean up the house, eat at nicer places, suggest more interesting cultural activities than I would ever really do on my own.
You’ve got to try and show people a fun time. When someone else who lives in your city is along, though, it’s strange because on the one hand, you know that they know that you’re intentionally choosing the fancier option (not to show off, to show your friend a good time but still) but if you didn’t choose the fancier thing, it would maybe feel like you’re intentionally being unpretentious.
It’s complicated, I guess, is what I’m saying. Especially in New York, where some people have a complex about being up with the latest place or more aware of hidden gems or I don’t know, people get insulted if you treat them like they don’t know what they’re doing, but also maybe they don’t. Like I said, it’s complicated.
In the end, in my book anyway, all that matters is that my friend who came to visit had a good time. All the other negotiations that went on behind her back, both spoken and unspoken, need never be acknowledged. It’s just funny to think that maybe when I go to stay with her in Austin, a similar negotiation takes place without me even knowing. People are strange, man.