For twenty-four hours I could not think about anything else, but as soon as the sun rose I started to take care of everything. I vacuumed all over the floor and later on I cleaned the guest bathroom, without worrying too much about the remaining rooms, since nobody would have a chance to see them anyway.
So, I sent my husband over for the last groceries and meanwhile, “with all my hair in the air”, I started to hide the broken wings of my son’s toy airplanes and Lego bricks that were spread across the rug.
Then I changed the sweaty t-shirt for a fresh blouse, I dropped two tears of an exquisite French perfume between my breasts and checked out my reflection in the mirror.
Finally I set the table, covering it with two different types of cakes, fruits and a gorgeous teapot, that we never use in our everyday life.
Cross-checking with my husband if everything was where it belonged – or maybe not, since the main thing was tied up! I even ran my eyes in search for the camera, thinking about taking a couple of pictures of such a solemn event, but then I felt ridiculous.
The time has come at last! My husband, my son, my dog and I were ready, waiting for the moment when the building security system would announce the visitors.
The truth was that these guests were nothing more than fellow workers of my husband, whom I, on the spur of the moment, invited to have a coffee at our place – and thus invading my utmost privacy.
Such a commotion was caused by the fact that I, mainly, do not happen to be very sociable. It’s not that I am someone who has never seen daylight – quite on the contrary, since I adore traveling and do enjoy the bustling life of a great city. But a huge circle of friends, makes me feel like a fish out of water.
Being an expatriate means changing your personality from open and genuine to a reserved and somewhat artificial person. Some of them become prisoners of a circle of friends, whom they don’t really know and not even want to know. Nonetheless, the family becomes more united, and the desire to spend time with strangers disappears almost entirely.
I do enjoy meeting with the natives of the countries where I happen to be, but I am not keen on changing great intimacies with them.
I have already asked myself the reason for being so unsociable. Maybe it is because I am a writer – that is indeed revealing. But then I realized that I really do not feel like having loads of best friends, people coming to my place without being invited. Does it appear a little weird? Maybe, but the fact is that I know and respect my nature. I try not to act only to please others.
Back to this cold afternoon: half an hour passed by but we haven’t heard from our guests yet. I became impatient, staring at my wristwatch and thinking that in this exact moment I could be watching the news, surfing the Internet, tickling my husband and son, reading or writing. What a waste of time!
The guests finally arrived forty minutes late. They apologized for the delay, blaming the traffic jam of Moscow (an excuse that I can’t buy if you are on holiday). I got a small bouquet of flowers and my son was rewarded with candies.
We were sitting at the table, eating and drinking. So far so good. But then this unbearable silence filled the room. What now? Clearly, everyone was desperate in search for a new topic and finally someone made a silly comment on something rather non-important. What a relief, I can tell you!
As a matter of fact, three hours of lovely conversation flew by, in spite of the obscene behaviour demonstrated by my dog: he was harassing our guests and did it with rhythmical interruptions (just to catch some air).
As soon as the sun went down, one lady looked at her watch for the first time. That’s good – I thought. This meant that soon they will be leaving, and I could finally get back to myself, to my absolute naked truth, that only very few people can handle or understand.
Anyway, it took another 10 minutes for the guests to put on their coats, boots, gloves, to say thanks for the invitation and then finally to leave.
“It was kind of cool, don’t you think?” – asked my husband.
I agreed that this visit had indeed taken me from my routine, and this was not that bad, even if it meant stealing some precious time from me.
But still, with so much commotion, I had to recover emotionally before I could be ready to make another invitation – perhaps not very soon…