You are coming to visit so I will tidy up this room, I will change the sheets and flip the pillows and set the clock right so you’ll know exactly what time it is. I will clean up all the mess so that when you arrive, you will feel like no one has ever been here before.
I will wait by the window, I will help you with your bags and I will hide my disappointment when the weight of your suitcase confirms it: you won’t be staying long. This is just a visit, you are just a visitor; I am a vacation.
You will ask me for a tour and I will take you room by room: the living room that seat isn’t yours, the kitchen ignore the photographs, the bedroom don’t open the closet, the bathroom stay out of that drawer. Then the guestroom: sanitized to your liking, fit for someone new, and if you wander out of it I can’t promise that you’ll like what you find. There’s only so much space to hide the things others have left behind.
We will share a drink or four; we’ll get to talking. You’ll be aware of how foreign I am, this is, it’ll take some getting used to but soon enough you’ll find familiarity in this lived-in space. It will remind you of a time when you called someplace home.
And you’ll remind me of a time when life felt less cold, when summer was endless, when I could pad around barefoot on wooden floors. When body heat was mass-produced between these four walls — on very cold nights, even I have trouble believing that it ever happened. But right now I believe it because it is warm, you are warm, you are a vacation.
You will shed your tourist skin and I will let you open that drawer, sit in that seat, look at those photographs. We will play house and it will feel wrong and right, all things considered. All things like, you have no intention of staying. All things like, I knew that before I let you in. All things like, can’t we suspend the inevitable and have breakfast in bed one more time? Things like that.
Your last day here will sneak up on us, even though the clock in the guestroom announced it was approaching. One belabored tick at a time. On that day, your open suitcase on the bed will reveal what we always knew we were: a visitor, a vacation, a guest, a distraction. We will stand in the doorway for longer than what’s comfortable and you will remark that your luggage feels heavier. Everything will feel heavier.
When you walk out of the door, a draft will rush in to fill the space you once occupied.