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2001: It Only Hurts when I Laugh
2002: Footprints in the Sand
2003: I Apologize
2004: I've Become Kyle's Mom
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14 October 2014
On October 2 I wrote an entry called "Honesty is Hard," in which I talked about my experience being a member of the Shakespeare Book Club and my decision not to renew my membership this year, even though I enjoyed -- sort of -- my attendance at meetings last year.
I felt good about my decision to say "no" and even more to act on it.
Buoyed by my success in saying "no" already, I said it again tonight.
I have mentioned before that back in the 1980s and early 90s, we played host to some 70 foreigners from 14 different countries. It started with one wonderful Brasilian, Eduardo, who came for a 3 week program from the Experiment in International Living and blossomed into other Experiment guests (I can't say kids because some were teens, some were older and my "Brasilian brother" Nelson was our age), and then people who just heard about us. I felt there was a note on a phone booth in the Rio de Janeiro airport that read "For a good time in the United States call....")
The shortest stay was a guy from Morocco, who just needed a place to crash for the night and was gone in the morning. The longest stay was Vince, from Malaysia, who stayed with us for 3 years and graduated from high school and then went on to get his degree here, marry an American, and now I believe may own his own engineering business. Their twins are about the age Vince was when he moved in with us.
The weirdest guest we had was the guy who telephoned us from the Greyhound bus station in Davis to say his friend had told him about our family and could he stay with us for a few days. He spoke no English, moved in, lived with us for five months. He taught Dave and Tom capoeira, the Brasilian form of martial arts.
The worst guy was a teenager whose parents needed a babysitter while they went off to France and a friend of theirs had read a story about us when we had some Chileans staying with us. What we didn't know was that the kid did NOT want to come, was gay, had a boyfriend they wanted to keep him from, and was sullen and angry the whole time he was here. He went back home and sent us a letter letting us know that he hated us. His parents never even said thank you, nor did they offer to pay his expenses while he was here.
It was inevitable that we would have bad apples and we did, but we kept doing it for people like Sonia, still in our lives today. I was matron of honor at her wedding at Lake Tahoe. And the sight of David and his friend Jeff teaching Victor, from Congo, to speak English. They had lessons every day after the kids finished school. Victor came to David's funeral many years later.
Eduardo taught our kids to make kites, and Caico brought such amazing life and joy to the house, and he fell in love with our kitten. Juan Ignacio taught me to make empanadas and I taught Chieko how to make tempura because she had never cooked in Japan before. I remember the guys who taught David enough Portuguese that he could be the representative from Brasil at his school's UN day. There was Pujol making his stage debut in Camelot (he later went on to study ballet and become a choreographer), and the three guys living with us when Paul and Jeri did Oliver! all coming to the theater to watch Walt step in for an actor who just didn't show up. And of course Marie from Mexico, and all the pride we have in her for her many accomplishments.
It wasn't a perfect ten+ years, but we have wonderful memories.
Now whenever someone needs to find a home for someone, they call us. They equate us with strays -- dogs and people. I recently had a call about a homeless man someone had befriended who needed somewhere to stay. I hated to turn this person down, but I'm just kind of liking the calm peaceful life we have now in our empty nest. Tonight I heard a horror story of students who seem to be being held semi-hostage in a house built for 8 but housing 19, behind locked doors, the residents not fluent in English. A couple of kids want to leave the place, but have nowhere to go. My friend thought we might be able to take them in. Thank goodness we have our trip to France coming up and are unable to even consider it. After asking my friend if she was going to take one in (no), I suggested calling local churches to see if they could help. Heck, even if I were still in touch with all of the host families I used back in the 80s, they are now dead, or just plain old like us and not willing to put up with in-home guests again.
So I said "no" again...and did have another twinge of guilt that I should be helping out. But it was time to put dinner on the table and the twinge passed very quickly.
Just for future reference, anybody reading this journal....my days of hosting are
over. It's lovely that you think of us and it pains me to say no. We gave and
gave and gave and have no regrets and so many wonderful memories. But to everything
there is a season. We are 30 years older now and heck, I don't think I even want to
host puppies any more.
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Anjali (India), 2009 to present
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