The Chinese name their years. This year is the Year of the Rat, last year was the Year of the Pig, and on it goes. In my calendar, this year has been the Year of the House Guest.
House guests come in all different sizes, shapes, and styles. There was the American journalist who spent five weeks using my home as her base of operations. She worked very hard not to be a problem. I morphed into a mother role with her. She was 28 and a married woman but looked 16 and terribly American. In the volatile and violent world I live in, I worried about her wandering around the country and gave her countless advice on how to conduct herself. She was wise beyond her years and managed to get her assignment done, be careful, and still go places I would never dream of going even after fifteen years of living here.
Then there was the colleague who spent a long weekend in my home during a particular stressful moment within the country. The thought was that “in case” something nasty happened, she would be safer in my part of town than she would be where she lived downtown. She brought her entire office with her and set it all up on the dining room table. After all if something happened she, as the keeper of all the valuable documents of her mission, had to protect what was vital to that mission. Fortunately, I had another table that we could use when we needed to eat.
Later, there were the conference speakers from Colombia who spent ten days with me. For them I gave up my bedroom. The guest room only had bunk beds that I didn’t think would be comfortable or appropriate. Besides, my office was in my bedroom and they needed a place to prepare for their various meeting and seminars. I moved into the guest room and set up my office on a small desk in there. I was working on a major writing project at the time, so it was a bit of a challenge to operate on a postage stamp. But hey, isn’t that what laptops are for?
A friend visited for a week. The hot water tap in her bathroom decided to leak so we had to shut it off. But she managed quite well. Since I only have Spanish television, I though it might be a bit boring for her. But she loves baseball, and though the commentators remarks might be important, you really can enjoy the game even if you don’t understand what anyone are saying.
Then came my brother. His was a slightly more challenging affair. When he arrived, I hadn’t had the use of the kitchen stove for more than two weeks and I had two leaks to deal with. But we managed to produce some very good meals using the Dutch Oven, the electric wok and the microwave. You really can produce a decent chocolate cake in the microwave. By the end of the visit, the gas was back on, the leak fixed both in his bathroom and under the kitchen sink, and lots of furniture had been moved in preparation for the next visitors.
Once again I gave up my bedroom, but thanks to my brother, my office was now in a separate room allowing me to operate with a little more efficiency. The male half of this twosome paces in the middle of the night—his mind is working overtime as they look for a place to live. He also has a cold, and the constant cough rattles the walls. He hasn’t slept much this past week—and neither have the rest of us. On the plus side, they are self-sufficient and I have been traveling around with them to look at apartments. That adventure is the subject of another post.
This Year of the House Guest will be rounded out in September with another couple who will stay with me for several months. This time I will not have to give up my room—they are leaving the country and I am buying some of their furniture. Imagine house guests coming with their own bed!
Then life will return to whatever “normal” is. In the meanwhile, I pray for a little bit more sleep and the God-given ability to adjust with grace. The guests are great, each contributing their own unique bits to my life. All that being said, I’m kind of looking forward to having the place to myself for a while.
Oh, did I tell that my brother is talking about coming back for Christmas?