Thursday, June 13, 2013

gypsy living: don't act like a guest

Before I started living with Mountain Ma and Pa about 7 weeks ago, they invited me to move in with them. Did you hear that? They asked me to come back. I think I mentioned before that I had lived with them for six months a number of years ago. Six months. That's no overnight house guest. And yet, here they were opening up their doors wide open, AGAIN.

Mountain Ma and I on a road trip to California in 2011
"Why?" You might ask. Maybe you think they are crazy or gluttons for punishment. And maybe they are. I don't really know the true answer to why they asked me to come back, although I have a few theories.

A little background here. The Mountain folks have known me since I was about 8 years old. They got to know me even better throughout my high school years, as I became friends with their boys. Our families became friends, and we've all kept in touch. So basically: we are friends, and they love me. I am at times referred to as the "adopted daughter," as we attempt to explain our longstanding relationship to others. But we all know that even when we love someone, we don't necessarily want them living in our homes. Am I right? 

Something I learned in my first round of gypsy living, the one driven by unemployment, is that even if you're a guest in someone's home, don't act like one. Pitch in. 

Keep your stuff and your space clean.  Volunteer for household chores. Help with dishes after meals. Volunteer to cook dinner one night a week. If there are children living in the house, help them with the daily routine. Offer to babysit younger kids. Tutor the older ones. Learn to anticipate the needs of others and fill the need when you can. Are Wednesday a busy day for the family? Offer to make dinner that night. Likewise, if you see something that needs to get done, don't ask -- do it. Was the garbage can left at the curb after garbage day? Roll it to the garage. Is the dog's water bowl empty? Fill it. 

Make yourself useful. Not only that, but you want to make yourself invaluable to them. You want them to wonder what they did before you came. Sometimes by doing the little everyday things that no one seems to notice, you end up being the most helpful. 

I'm not great at doing all these things. But I have done everything mentioned above at one point or another. It might not have been the reason I was asked back, but it probably didn't hurt. The last 7 weeks with the Mountain folks, I've been busier than ever and probably not as helpful of a house guest as I was the last time I lived here. If you know Mountain Ma and Pa, maybe you can ask them the real reasons why they invited me back. Or find out if they'd do it again! 

Have you ever found yourself as an extended house guest? Were there things you did to help out and pitch in during that time? 


  1. All those things are just a few of the reasons why I miss having kids at home.

    1. As I recall, our helping out was because of the chore list and not because we were such stellar children.