“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” – Benjamin Franklin
Tuesday, July 15th
I put a lot of effort into planning this vacation. Endless emails were sent to request visits and in some cases a place to stay for the evening. In true Canadian style, I tried to do this delicately and politely so that I wasn’t backing anyone into a corner of obligation. But on Tuesday, we hit our first truly awkward moments of the trip.
We’d had a beautiful stay at a campground the night before, cooling off from a summer heat wave in river water and listening to owls hoot above our tent. Our next stop was back into the city at my younger brother’s home. His apartment is right on a main thoroughfare, so it felt like a 180 from where we’d been.
He had been extremely conscientious to look up options for us during our brief visit. This is the brother who has visited us annually for the last 7 years or so. I have taken him to every spot I can think of in my city, as I have completed every puzzle and board game in my possession with him when we’ve been snowed in together. It’s always about the time together, not what we’re going to see. But I understand his anxiousness to show us a fair and interesting side of his city. The only trouble is that it was glaringly hot. The walk “down the block” to the playground was more like 8 blocks, and the kids couldn’t take it….which is why I’d asked if it was better to drive. Upon returning, my brother’s girlfriend listed the reasons she thought their new puppy might have heat stroke from the walk without a thought of how our little people were doing.
We opted to keep things simple for the rest of the night. My husband and I have got it down to a science to minimize our impact on others; this includes cooking the meals, cleaning up after ourselves and striving to be as self-sufficient as possible. All that aside, it was apparent that our presence was disturbing my brother’s girlfriend, so we made our exit the next morning as uncomplicated as possible. We’d rendezvous with them in a neighboring town later that morning before driving south.
We learned a lesson today. Not everyone is open to hosting others, even if they offer it. It took me a long time to develop the ease to open my home to others, and as I’ve often mentioned I am still working on being more warm and welcoming to my guests. And I can only expect a limited amount of empathy when I take my family into a household with young childless occupants. Other families know how things roll in this grand parenting adventure, especially when you’re a fish out of water.
What do you do when you (feel you) are unwanted company somewhere?