Hospitality

It’s good to be back. It’s good to come back to a place I’ve lived before, where I’m known and welcomed. Never before have I been met at the airport upon arriving in Paris, or been driven into town. Traffic was as thick as could be, but it didn’t matter; I was with friends. I’m all for seeing new places, but there’s something special about going back to old places and being welcomed like family.

I got settled in to my apartment (that is, I set my bags down; getting fully unpacked would have to wait) and soon headed over to dinner with some dear friends, and the most hospitable people I know. Some other Americans were staying with them, so I got to meet some new people. (I’ve had had dinner there a number of times, and I think they’ve always had some visitors staying with them.) So much good food and conversation—ribs and potatoes, and then six kinds of cheese along with salad, and then dessert with the world cup… it’s a good thing I’ll get a whole lot of walking in while I’m here! I managed to stay up till eleven in my effort to kick the jet lag, but then slept for eleven hours. Can’t remember the last time I did that.

Today was spent getting unpacked, walking my new neighborhood, exploring a new park, visiting old friends, getting confused and missing my first train (probably won’t be the last time), and meeting a bunch of people at an American style BBQ at some friends’ place. Burgers, pork belly, two kinds of sausages—it was a ridiculous spread. But we all got through most of it! (Hmm, they might be the most hospitable people I know as well…)

Hospitality is one of those quiet, underrated and overlooked virtues. And yet it means so much and can make such a difference. The last two days I’ve experienced the tremendous hospitality of people who make so many other people feel welcomed and valued and loved. On both occasions, people were gathered who come from or have lived all kinds of different places–Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam, Guadalupe, France (of course), and all over the U.S. It’s true: come to Paris so you can meet the world.

Tomorrow: another dinner invitation. Once again it’s with the first family; this time they’re hosting another soirée for twenty!

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