When you have houseguests, do you set aside a certain time when you and your guests can just, well, talk? About what they are doing, what you are doing, and life in general since you last got together?
My houseguest right now is Isabel Bird who lives in London. Although we share the last name we're not related, but we act like it. In fact, I call her my London sister. And when she shows up here, or I show up at her fabulous home in London, we set aside a certain amount of time, sit down over a cup of tea--or, even better, a glass or two of wine, and catch up with each other's business life, friends, vacations, concerns.
What's interesting to me is that we are especially candid in these conversations. There is something about friends you don't see on a regular basis, and who do not live in the same City, that frees you to share feelings and concerns that you may not be inclined to share so freely with those more familiar people in your life. Maybe it's just that you don't have to worry about running into your confidante the next day or week and have to explain the latest developments. You just throw information out there to your houseguest and know it will sit with them confidentially until the next time you meet. And that's a ways away.
Perhaps these friendships that are separated by geography are among our best. I know when I see Isabel, it feels as if we are picking up the conversation where we left off, many months ago.