Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest…
When thinking about the last two weeks as a guest in two very welcoming and yet very different homes, I can’t help but think about Belle’s situation in Beauty and the Beast. While in the castle, Belle is treated with every courtesy by the kitchenware and household objects, not at first by her “host”. She is provided with lavish meals, given a luxurious bed, entertained either by snowball fights or singing dishes, and has access to a vast library with all sorts of nooks and crannies to curl up in. What more could she want? Freedom. The ability to do and be where she wants. To not have to think about if it’s proper to raid the kitchen at night or not. That is what all house guests eventually want. To do whatever, whenever… Ok, so in her case, she is a captive and isn’t allowed to leave and maybe an analogy with Belle wasn’t the best of ideas, but don’t give up on this post yet.
Being a guest is grand. You are staying for free in someones house, eating their food and being shown the sights. Sometimes you get to see events that only locals get to see. For example, a school fair or a town parade. For awhile this is fun, enjoyable and exciting. But eventually the “being a guest” gets tiresome (just like being a host can be exhausting).
As a guest, you need to be aware of the household routines you might be interrupting. You have to offer your help, but not try to impose yourself on their habits (the kids have their chores, so don’t empty the dishwasher kind of thing). You have to try to “make yourself at home”, while not offending your host by allowing one of your bizarre-yet-perfectly-normal-to-you habits be observed. No matter how messy their house is, you have to hide your mess so that you leave a good impression. You want to be interested and have good conversation, but you need to be careful what topic you bring up. All sorts of subtlety is involved.
Many of the nuances of being a guest are not difficult to figure out and adapt to, but after awhile can start to wear. I have absolutely enjoyed myself with these two Kiwi families, but I am ready for my own space. I am ready to drink milk out of the carton again (just a stereotypical bad habit, my mother would kill me if I ever did that). I have put myself in these guest situations and feel that I have been an admirable house-guest. But one of the most important parts of being that model house guest means knowing when to leave. For yourself, but more importantly well before the host wants to put their boot to your backside to help you out the door. I had a few constraints on my being able to stop being a guest for myself (I did manage to head out before being kicked out).
I would have loved to have found a car, job and place of our own within the first week of arriving, but the alas the stars were not aligned. Finding a car was my “first” necessary step. It was to be the mode of transportation throughout the journey. But buying a car without having a car to get you to the random locations to test drive a car, is rather difficult. My boyfriend and I, finally managed to buy Arlene. Our Mazda Familia who has a lot of “character” (not to mention a new horn that sounds like a swallowed wasp).
Once we bought Arlene, we headed out of Auckland central to our next “guest” situation. This second guest-stop, was to a) visit some of my boyfriend’s family friends and b) to kill time before an interview on the South Island. Here we did a bit more exploring, went on hikes, soaked in natural hot springs and found out that while New Zealand has wi-fi, you either have to pay for it or if it is free, it just plain doesn’t work.
After a bit of correspondence, our interview date was determined, we reserved a spot on the ferry from Wellington to Picton and we headed out on our own. Well, we stayed till our host son’s school event was over on that Saturday. The event was called Calf Club and since the school is in a farming community it has a livestock show. Early Saturday morning there were little boys and girls showing chickens they had raised and trained to do tricks as well as lambs, goats, and adorable calves being paraded and judged. If the student was unable to raise, feed, and train a live farm animal, they had to do a fashion show with “wearable art” made out of recycled or natural materials. Our hosts son decided to go as Marmite (the Kiwi Vegemite). It was hilarious and the costume was great. It was sad to say farewell to that smart, funny and very sociable 11-year old. But anyway, we needed to be on our way.
Now we are no longer guests. We don’t have to worry about interrupting routines or family plans, but we still don’t have a place “our own” and so the freedom to eat banana and peanut butter sandwiches at 3am is still not ours. Oh well, we will just have to see what happens!