I was at a friend’s condo before the holidays, at which I had never been before. It’s an incredibly nice condo, and had all the touches I could expect from these friends: great decorating, clean and well-stocked, with a large entertainment system. We were making gingerbread houses (which turned into a Candyopolis), watching football and drinking beer. I was welcomed into their condo with laughter, a brief tour and invited to make myself at home. At the end of the night, I went home to my house, and continued on with life.
There’s quite the difference between visiting a friend’s house in your twenties and visiting a friends house a decade ago. When you’re ten years old, going over to a friends house is a big deal. Because you’re not really going over to your friend’s house. You’re a visitor, a true guest, to your friend’s parents‘ house.
You never quite know what to expect, as you are friends with your friend and not with your friend’s parents. There are rooms that are forbidden, things you know you can’t touch. You’re there at the will of at least two people – the friend and the parent. Unless, of course there’s nobody home but you two. No supervision. Then it’s magical. You are truly free to wander with your friend in their parents domain. It’s like embarking on some sojourn in a fantasy novel.
I suppose when all this really changes is in college. For the first time, your living space is yours. Your friends’, theirs. Of course, dorms are small, not really a home, and merely a step to the post-college experience of your own living space.
Now, when I end up visiting a friends house, it’s because I know them very well. Visiting their house or apartment is awesome, but it’s still theirs. And to an extent, I see things I expect (or in some cases, know will be there), because I know the person. It’s just a continuation of our relationship, this space.
There’s something intriguing about looking back on being in a space that didn’t belong to anyone we were friends with. We truly were guests. Our space was not our own. It’s amazing how much we’ve grown.