I spent one glorious week in Bali, Indonesia. After a simple AirB&B homestay, I went on a quest for something more luxurious since mom was coming to visit. I spent all the day trolling the beach for the right place: something with character, off the beatin’ path, but decently priced. Initially I wasn’t really on the right course; beachfront where only hotels and tourist attractions would find me. I spent a few hours on the bicycle, touring a few places. I finally exhausted my search by calling an AirBnB only to find the person on the other end at reception asking me to call back in 15 minutes. It made me laugh, and I intended to call back, but clearly it wasn’t meant to be. On my way back to my stuff, ready to scoop mama at the airport, I peaked my head into a large iron gate. There were two women on the other side chatting. It was a stretch, but I asked if they rented rooms. To my delight the lovely lady on the other end, to my delight, was warm, and happened to be a yogi! Anshu is her name, typically opens her space up to people generally coming for a yoga training. We chatted for a short while before she rented me a room. Synchronistically, my mantra ever since the birth of this blog, has been “Open Home Open Heart” and Anshu perfectly displayed this love towards me.
Being in real estate (by way of the family business) we do a lot of Open Houses– which have a completely different meaning in themselves. However, American culture is unique in our requirements for our space and privacy need; a privilege sometimes not so readily available in other cultures. Privacy and solace are freedoms not afforded to all. I’ve realized this more with age and experience. I made the comment to my grandmother one time that I’ve only lived alone for 3 months out of my 30 years of existence. She replied that she never had that. I now think a personal bubble is important and somewhat required for creative spaces and energy to flow.
My friend and I discussed this. She was freshly out of a relationship and had realized throughout the whole relationship was lacking a sense of home; She, like myself, is a nomad, and the sense of home doesn’t always have to be a place that is your own, but it must have the feels. I realized this sentiment that she was expressing with a former roommate. Fresh out of college, we acquired a new apartment. I had brought the furniture and a lot of the decor, making it feel like my space more than hers initially. We compromised and we added a variety of decor from both of our previous spaces to make it feel, and ultimately be, both of ours, together.
This topic opens up a wider discussion that is the culture of home and what that means to different people. What are the norms that you had or lacked growing up that created your own personal culture of home and what that means to you? There can be different ideas of home: how does one compromise or not compromise to make it comfortable for the various parties living in that home? In relationships, how does one change in order to begin building a home with other people?
My friend Iris said, “Home is where your friends want to hang out because it makes them feel at home too.” The feeling of home and being home brings a sense of grounding to the guests and the resident alike. One common thread about hospitality is that many people will go out of their way to make guest comfortable in their own home, and or their country, depending on varying degrees of “hospitable”. I remember the first time we stayed with my aunt and uncle in India. They gave up their bed for my parents.
I think the more one travels into the depths of culture, the more one can experience the kindness of strangers opening up their own home. It speaks volumes about what hospitality is. As I land in my own nest, I hope to soon be able to paying it forward to the many sweet souls over the years who have had me in their homes. I hope for my home to be a revolving door of exchanging ideas, with comfort being at the epicenter of that and to open to a mixture of cultures and people. Opening of one’s home/hearth/heart is in my humble opinion, one of the truest and purest gestures of love. This soul family is not determined by blood or location, but by the kindness and warmth of that heart.