The house I grew up in had a strict open-door policy. It was not uncommon to come home from wherever to find my friend Sari, whose mother took the same laissez-faire approach mine did to hosting guests, hanging out in front of the television, munching on a bowl of cereal while she waited for me to get there. But it wasn’t just her – even friends who came from homes that followed more common formalities learned that knocking and entering (without waiting for an answer) and grabbing a glass of orange juice without asking was acceptable at our house.
Yesterday, my friend Katie stopped by on her way home from a yoga class. She called from the curb to let us know she was here. I was thrilled when she traipsed into the house with a bag full of clean clothes; she accepted my offer for a shower and proceeded to fold herself right into our afternoon. We planted and talked and drank coffee and ate leftover carrot salad.
I’m always conscious of how quickly I make myself at home in other people’s houses. I have a strange innate knack for kitchen organization; I can usually find what I need on the first try. But sometimes I have to consciously tell myself that in most homes, people ask for a glass of water rather than just getting up to find one. It’s a tricky balance.
Katie left just as she’d come, without announcement or drama, when we decided we needed to get to the hardware store before it closed. And as we waved quick good-byes, it occurred to me that we’d had our first open-door visitor. It pleased me enormously.