I used to think I liked them.
As a child growing up in a somewhat abusive home, having guests randomly (frequently) dropping by was a welcome event. The father figure automatically snapped into Gracious Host / Kind Father & Husband mode, all fights and tempers stashed away unseen.
Even if someone stayed the day, the night, the week, the month — the nasty side of the family was kept hidden so effectively that, later on when it all came out, no one could believe that things were ever so bad as we said.
The upside to the fake-but-convincing happiness was that we got the positive effects: reprieve from the yelling, fighting, name-calling, oppressive, and emotionally neglectful environment. It was harmony, smiles, laughter, and delicious food.
People loved us. We loved people. Life was good.
Eventually, when I moved out on my own, I still enjoyed frequent company. My house (a decent sized 3-bedroom rental I shared with 1-2 roommates) was the place to hang out most of the time. Food-centric parties, movie nights, or simply the random bachelor dropping by to scrounge dinner from my pantry…. It was good times. I was single, kept a very clean house (easiest when you don’t own much) and a rather open schedule, so it was never a hardship.
Towards the end of my stint at that house, though, I started seeing my spouse-to-be and that filled up my schedule rather significantly. We married and moved into the tiniest basement suite in town (owned by family, who lived upstairs), and privacy became a bit of a sacred thing.
We had to learn to build our life together, balancing the increasing demands of day job, school, church work, and dual-introvert time. In-laws were added to the social activity list. Mentoring people, teaching, design work, photography…there was no longer an open schedule to share with random guests. Dropping by unannounced might interfere with that one slice of time I’d set aside for the partner or myself.
Fast forward a decade and it’s only gotten worse as life has become more of a burden. Surprise guests might just as likely be interrupting precious work time. And my house is nearly always a mess and therefore a stress to have people see.
It’s been a small revelation to understand and admit that I no longer want drop-ins. But, now I realize why and it’s ok. Perhaps when my life has recovered its breathing room a bit, I might change again.