What if we each decided to go first and be the hostess we long for? Think for a minute about the times you’ve felt most at home, most comfortable and free. Scour the details. Was the floor freshly mopped? Did you swipe the baseboards with a white glove and Instagram the results? Did you pull out the refrigerator vegetable bins, checking for withered lettuce or slimy cilantro, ready to hurl stones? Did your host ask you to leave and not return until you were more smartly dressed? Did you pull out a scorecard and rate the meal? Were you positively disgusted by the antics of normal kids being their normal, dysregulated kid selves?
I’m guessing not.
What probably happened is that you felt listened to. Noticed. Included. Renewed. Accepted. You probably laughed a lot, and maybe you cried. You recognized a no-pressure zone when you saw it.
Bingo. That’s our way forward.
We have deceived ourselves into thinking hospitality is more about the house than the humans. In reality, it’s just the background noise to the real meat and potatoes of connection. If we can keep this reminder taped front and center, we might find ourselves falling willingly, happily even, into a new rhythm of belonging.
It doesn’t have to begin with inviting strangers into your home, or making Pioneer Woman’s epic sloppy joes for six of your favorite incarcerated friends. . . .
It can start with two hours, a tea kettle, and the affirmation that freshly baked scones outrank hygiene.
If you’re more of a planner, pick a day of the month, or even (gasp!) a day of the week. Now, all you need to do is find some comrades and crack open a jar of salsa.
It can start with inviting people over at the last minute and insisting they wear stretchy pants. These eleventh-hour gatherings defined my childhood, shoring up the base of what I still believe to be true: we’re better off when there’s no time to sweat the details. It totally takes the pressure off. . . .
From there, we can cast the net even wider. What if we practiced our skills on people who already love us no matter what, then dared to believe they vastly outnumber those who don’t? What’s the worst that could happen?