This past weekend, Matt’s parents gave us one of the best gifts a couple can receive: a bedroom door! I cannot overstate how excited I am for the ways a door to our room will give us more felt freedom for hospitality - and longer hospitality. Working with friends who don’t live in houses challenges me daily to think about how space -- physical, geometric space -- deeply shapes who I am and my relationships. When we debriefed our park-stay a couple of months ago, Claire asked us what we had not been able to do as a team and as SFOC staff, because we were absent from our house.
“Hospitality time,” one of us said. Another noted we didn’t have people over for laundry or meals. We didn’t have any conversations with our formerly homeless housemates.
Snickering, I leaned over to Matt and whispered that we had not known each other (in the biblical sense), since being in the park, since none of us had tents and we slept in a clump of sleeping bags.
“We didn’t have sex!” Matt relayed my quip to the rest of the group.
“I’m very glad for that,” Claire said, guffawing, “that would have made me super uncomfortable.”
Of course, we were mostly needling and being silly, but I think about it as a reality for our friends in the park. I imagine what it would be like to have no private place to process, to reconnect, to argue with Matt. I wonder what it would be like to be stuck with him in a tent or car for three days straight due to rain. We often get compliments on our marriage and our interactions with one another, and I find myself doubting how many we would get were we in the same situation as many of our friends.
“What do you do when you fight?” One of our friends recently asked me at pancakes.
I paused, thinking, and then talked about “I”-messages and getting space if I needed to think before having conflict.
“Every little thing builds up more out here,” she said, and then explained some of the more frustrating goings-on in the past few days that had worn out her and her partner. Multiple times in a week, the cops woke up their entire camp and made them move at 4:30am.
Every time Matt and I have been up at 4:30am together has been to catch an airplane. And 87% of those times (according to an extremely scientific study), I have still felt license to be grumpy at him.
When we have had people sleep in our flat, I’ve felt the strain of no privacy. We had a sheer curtain separating us from our guests; being permanently visible exhausted me. Being permanently visible and audible with Matt exhausted me differently. And so when I first clicked our beautiful new bedroom door, I sighed twenty sighs of relief for the past and the future. I’m humbled to think what a great effect a small piece of wood can have on my behavior, and I cast my respect to my friends who find ways love each other, solve conflict, and commit without one.