On Having A House Guest

I recently read a novel in which the protagonist was described, in great detail, as one who thrived on the chaos and clamor of a house full of family and friends. Her doors were always open; extra places were always set at the table, and extra rooms – or couches – were always occupied by friends, family members or folks who simply needed a place to crash.

You could always find her in the kitchen; she held court there, preparing food, engaging in conversation and keeping things organized.

I can relate. It sounds VERY familiar! Seems like we always have a houseful of people, and I like it.

As the story progressed, she murdered two people and was eventually diagnosed with a severe narcissistic personality disorder, which provided the impetus behind what appeared to be hospitality. Her neuroses fed off the chaos, the appearance of meeting all the needs of all those people. She wasn’t well.

(Remember, I said it was a novel…)

It gave me pause. As my kids grow up and move on to different callings, the dynamic of our family changes. I’m changing, too. But I still love having a houseful of people – even though, as evidenced by my INFP Meyers-Briggs profile and this little list, I’m pretty much an introvert. The fact that I strongly dislike big parties and events and meet-and-greets but love having a houseful of people (occasionally) reflects something indicative of my personality, I suppose. And my passion for my family. But narcissism? Yikes!

I could do some serious navel-gazing here, but I’m not inclined; and I doubt it would be very interesting. So, instead, there is this, related very much in context.

My eldest daughter, who lives in Savannah, has a Significant Other – who lives with us. Post college, his work led him to this area temporarily, and we invited him to stay here with us (of course we did!) He had space in the basement, but now that the other girls have returned to college and their room opened up, he moved upstairs.

Today was chore day, and it included reorganizing his new space. I washed sheets, and this evening I went back in that bedroom to finish the beds. He’d organized a few things; there are now manly shoes and boots lined up right underneath the very girly collection of prom dresses in the closet, along with a few books and scattered personal items.

I walked by the dresser next to the bed, and I couldn’t help but stop for a minute. There was some of his artwork, his glasses, his Bible and a journal…and a photograph.

A photograph of my daughter in the private effects of my house guest.

I’m not sure there are adequate words to describe what it’s like to have the great privilege of an inside look at the serious affection of a young man toward my daughter. I am watching Travis and Shannon as their engagement unfolds, and it is special and unique and beautiful, for sure. But this is a tad bit different, and a little backwards. If there are words, I can’t find them. But I can say this: Opening our home to this young man has been an incredible privilege. Standing on his own, he is an asset to our daily life; a strong and healthy influence on my sons, a joy to have around the house, with an occasional dose of nice banjo music.

Knowing that his heart is warmed by the girl that I watched bloom into a beautiful young woman…well, it feeds my soul.

In a good way.

I am thankful.

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