Over a year ago I wrote a post entitled ‘Awesome’ which celebrated the hospitality of the citizens of the Unites States of America. Having just spent another hugely rewarding 3-months in that country it is time to update my feelings about the folk who call the US home.
I once read that Americans are ‘quick to throw their arms open but slow to close them’. To that I now say ‘Rubbish!’ I would venture that one gets to know Americans more quickly, honestly and deeply than many other nationalities. Unencumbered as so many of them are by the restraints and rigidities of a class system or overly-formal notions of good manners they embrace an open-spirited, relaxed and genuinely hospitable environment in which to entertain new people. That they are thoughtful, generous and kind in the extreme is almost second nature. They also seem to understand the real concept of good manners which goes against the grain of many outdated Victorian practices. That they wouldn’t know when or how to curtsy, bow or greet His Royal Stuffiness is so refreshing. What they do know about good manners is that it is all about inclusivity, about making your guests welcome, relaxed and at ease in unfamiliar surroundings and people. And they do this with an effortless ease and good grace. They are also unflappable, nothings fazes them: one could drop in at anytime and be assured of a warm welcome. This is true hospitality.
So, once again we have enjoyed being ushered into homes all across the US and been privy to American hospitality of the finest kind. That we are members of an organisation that allows us access to these homes is also a special privilege and one that we treasure immensely. To all the hosts we visited during the summer of 2016, a huge and heartfelt thank you, and we hope – no I think we know! – that we will see many of you again somewhere further on down the road. That one day we will be hosts in our own home is something we look forward to eagerly. So to all the people, both known and unknown, that we will host in the future, we promise to do our best to give you a truly enjoyable stay with us.
Postscript: following the hate-fuelled US election of 2016 it saddens me to think that this potentially wonderful country is so deeply divided and that distrust of the ‘other’ has been one of the main components of the rhetoric. The more Grace and I travel the more we realise that fear can make strangers of people who should be friends.