I think one of the best character traits of a writer is being curious. It’s curiosity that gives us the impetus to ask questions and wait for the answers. This same wonderment is why we place ourselves in situations where we encounter new experiences.
Before this week, I’d only stayed in an Airbnb once before. Several years ago my first experience was pretty hands-off, with Houston, our daughter Emilie and I having the downstairs of a home to ourselves. I think we talked with the owner once. That stay could not have been more different than the one I’ve just completed. While visiting Georgia to help my mom with some business matters, I had the opportunity to stay with a charming couple in their beautiful home and gardens. The experience left me feeling very reflective about hospitality and how I go about practicing it.
My hosts, Danielle and Bob, were some of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. You might think that’s because they’re in the south, but you’d be wrong. Danielle is a New York transplant and Bob is from California.
This couple genuinely loves meeting new people and opening up their home to guests. They enjoy sharing their home and their interests, and are interested in others as well. They went out of their way to welcome me with a glass of wine and a chat, as well as a walk through their lovely gardens. Danielle, an attorney, and Bob, an actor/artist, even offered insight into some of the businessy things I was in town to help my mom with.
Staying with this couple gave me a glimpse into the kind of host I want to be - the kind of hospitality I want to offer. Sure, our properties are wildly different, but the sense of welcome we communicate to our guests through our very demeanor can be the same, regardless of the type of lodging we offer.
As hosts, Houston and I never know where our guests are coming from. Oh, we might know their home is in DFW, Austin or Houston, but we don’t know what challenges they’re facing. We recently had a young mother book with us for the weekend. She drove six hours round trip, alone, just to spend time by herself.
The point is, as hosts, we have an opportunity to provide the space - physically, but not just physically - for our guests to get what they most need out of the experience, whether that’s rest, connecting with loved ones, communing with nature and God, or celebrating a special occasion.
Thank you Danielle and Bob for reminding me of why we do what we do.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the July 1, 2023 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.