In the October issue of RealSimple, Judith Newman wrote an article about her absolute hatred of being a house guest. I hope no one reads the article and decides not to invite me. Being a house guest is one of the greatest pleasures I know, and Mark and I were fortunate enough to be house guests many times over the last week.
Mark and I have just returned from our annual trip out east. If at all possible, we prefer to stay with friends and family. Of course, there is the obvious benefit of saving money, so vacations can be longer and more frequent, but even without that benefit, I would prefer to stay at someone’s house. I am fascinated with the differences and the similarities in our every day lives.
The trip started in Kutztown PA., where an antique radio swap meet was going on. For the first two nights we slept in our minivan, not the most comfortable of beds but it meant we could be right on the grounds of the swap meet from early to late. Early so that we can see what folks brought before the good stuff is sold, late so we can party with the group, this year that included strawberry and rhubarb laced vodka, single malt scotch, lots of beer, burning radio cabinets, karaoke, and fireworks. Needless to say, after all that we didn’t get up quite as early as we had planned. The Kutztown swap has some of the sweetest, grooviest folks around, they are easy, laid back and delightful. It is a great swap, great enough to get me to sleep in the car for two nights!
Then we moved on to Mark’s sister’s house. This is a typical nice suburban house in West New Jersey, clean and spacious with lots of yard. Kristie is married and they have two teen aged boys and a dog. After roughing it, it was wonderful to have a long hot shower, and eggs and pancakes prepared for us in the morning. Things are always moving in that family, someone always has to be someplace and life doesn’t slow down. Everything follows a schedule, none the less getting the family together to go someplace does require a certain amount of herding. It’s a very athletic, busy household. There is lots of space, lots of conversation, and lots of fun.
After a much needed sleep on a comfortable bed, we bid farewell and took off to our friend’s place in Manhattan. We visit Tim every year, and sleep on his loft floor. There is constant noise outside, varying from a small din to a loud lengthy horn. Tim works afternoons, and is a night owl like Mark by nature, so there is no morning hubbub. Things don’t start to move until eleven, and they start with cereal and some of the best coffee. The loft is large but incredibly crowded with wonderful exotic machines, Victorian medical devices, old televisions and radios, bones, and other unique objects. The loft feels like a creepy museum, and it is wonderful to be allowed to sleep among all the artifacts.
Once Tim starts moving, he never stops. We follow his lanky legs and bobbing ponytail around the city, visiting shops and museums, and lots of eateries. Tim has a strong sweet tooth, it must be satisfied with the most perfect doughnuts and the creamiest ice cream. We don’t complain.
After work, we hit a goth tiki bar. Yeah, you read that right. Cool place, Otto’s Shrunken Head. Check it out if you’re ever there.
After much walking and filling our eyes, Mark and I moved on to Mark’s old high school buddy Mike’s place. Mike and his wife and daughter live in upstate New York, out in the country by the finger lakes. It is peaceful, and full of nature. Well, as peaceful as it can be with Mike’s seven cats and two dogs, the four horses that they own do not live at the house. There are animals everywhere, checking you out, and history in every corner. Mike is crazy about the civil war, and there are reminders everywhere. The area is historic, everything has a story. We sleep on an incredibly comfortable futon, with cats checking us out. It is quiet and peaceful in the country, and the house is the place to be, warm, welcoming, and lovely. Morning comes early out in the country, the dogs and cats don’t let you sleep in. We have toast with homemade jam, peach or raspberry. Wonderful! Mike’s buying a new house, we got to see it and Mark could give Mike advice on what to fix first. The house is from the early 1800’s, older than anything around these parts. Mike has his work cut out for him.
From there we headed home, back to our own crib with our two waiting cats. They are delighted to see us, we are happy to be back, but it was one great trip. We miss our friends and family, and try to see them whenever we can.