Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hospitality II.

There's a party in my house. A, his girlfriend, and a least 4 of their friends are here, hanging out in the front room (J's room).

One thing's for sure, I am learning a lot this week. I was feeling really quibbley about things like schmutz on the kitchen table, lights left on, too much a/c use, unrinsed beer bottles in the recycling bin, inordinate toilet paper consumption, etc., but I had a change of heart. I realized, "A is J's guest. I should treat him like a guest. Is it really such a big deal that he brought his girlfriend?"

So I relaxed. I washed their towels with mine. I cleaned up after them in the kitchen. It felt good.

But the situation continues to test me. I am struggling to treat A like a guest, but does a guest invite a group of people over to his host's home for a party? He's not acting like a guest, but more like a sublettor. And a sublettor pays rent. But that makes it an issue about money and property, so I reject that line of inquiry.

I try to separate the money issue from the consumption issue. I bristle at the excessive use of electricity because I know our utility bill will be high. But it's also important to me that ours is a low-impact household. J and I both make a great effort to follow certain guidelines about consumption. J is often better at it than I am, and he keeps me on my toes. We reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost religiously. Is it less than gracious to insist that guests follow our rules? I hate telling people what to do.

To use the bathroom, they have to walk through the kitchen and past my bedroom door. I don't like how it feels to look up and see a stranger walking through my home.

My home. Mine, mine, mine. I don't believe that this corner of a run-down old house is mine, not in any real sense. I've been in too many fucked-up situations with landlords to get very comfortable in a rented apartment. Maybe that's why, in the end, it's hard for me to take any firm stand in this situation. I'm paying rent, but really we're all just squatters. I might be here longer than A and his girlfriend and their friends, but that doesn't mean it's not going to end at some point. We all get kicked out sooner or later.

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