My ultimate nightmare is a holiday on a sailboat with a bunch of friends or strangers, all at close quarters. I know it will never come to pass because I get violently seasick at the mere mention of a seafaring vessel of any kind – and when people regale me with stories of wonderful vacations aboard a sailboat, forced to sleep on the narrow beds around the dining table, using the minuscule bathrooms for everyone to hear and never being able to escape the confines to be alone for 5 minutes, I recoil in horror.
If I think about it, any vacation shared with more than three people is an option I would never go for. I have memories of a rented apartment in Sardinia, on the Emerald Coast, possibly one of the most beautiful (and expensive) spots on earth, shared with some friends I had known for years – one of those ideas that seemed excellent and cost-effective at the time but which turned into a disaster of epic proportions.
In rapid succession, one of the girls broke up with her long-term boyfriend and flew home leaving him behind to mope, the other girl totaled her boyfriend’s Mercedes creating an understandable cloud of black temper that hovered for the entire sojourn, I was forced to sleep on the sofa next to a man I was not having carnal relations with and who slept until late while I, an early bird, had to silently slither from under the covers and run all the way to the harbor, buy paper and croissants for something to do while waiting for the household to wake up.
Living with people one doesn’t normally share a space with, be they friends or strangers, is not easy. Recently I was sharing nightmare stories with an Italian friend who quickly discovered that relocating to Southern California meant that all kind of friends would start crawling out of the woodwork, asking for hospitality, especially during the Summer months. Many of my friends, and friends of friends, have taken advantage of me being here, to the point that my house sometimes looks more like a bed and breakfast than a single family dwelling. It’s partly my fault because I love having people from back home coming to visit, even if I don’t know them all that well. But being the cleanliness obsessive person that I am, I ended up collecting a series of horror stories of my own and, rather than confronting my guests about their slovenliness, I would end up fleeing my house counting the days they would finally decamp (never to be invited again).
There is a saying in Italian that loosely translates to “Guests are like fish – they start smelling after 3 days” and I try to keep it in mind when I am the guest somewhere. A conversation with my Italian friend about the difficult task of hosting someone she had known for 20 years but never vacationed with, prompted me to think about how I would like a guest to behave when spending a significant amount of time at my house. Disclaimer – this by no means has anything to do with my best friend currently staying with me. She and her boyfriend are an absolute pleasure to have around and they know all my kinks and how to navigate them anyway.
- Be independent. Rent your own car and make your own plans. I am happy to give suggestions, directions, advice and tips about places you wouldn’t otherwise find but I am not related to Google maps nor am I a travel or car service.
- Don’t expect me to participate in every activity during my free time. I might be happy to stroll around Venice with you but chances are Universal Studios have lost all their appeal on me.
- Replenish the fridge and don’t expect I will be cooking every single meal. I will probably cook most of them because that is just who I am but the evening I want to eat a bowl of cereals, you should have your own dinner plans.
- You have your own room so there is no need to leave maps, cameras, sunglasses, shoes, suntan lotion and sundries scattered everywhere.
- Please understand you might be on vacation but I am still getting up at 6 to go to work and staying up until midnight to chat is not going to work.
- Which leads to – don’t expect to be entertained whenever I am off work. There might be times when I want to just sit on the couch and read for an hour or simply have to do chores or run errands without worrying about your state of happiness.
- Offer to vacuum or clean the bathroom or do the dishes occasionally.
- Be nice to Ottie even if you don’t like dogs. It’s his home too.
- Buy me a simple gift or take me out for dinner to say thank you. I will make a fuss but I will appreciate it.
- Please understand I am a control freak and that is the price you pay for free accommodation.