Thirteen at the table





Sterling silver spoons







guest (n.) Old English gæst, giest (Anglian gest) “guest; enemy; stranger,” the common notion being “stranger,” from Proto-Germanic *gastiz (cf. Old Frisian jest, Dutch gast, German Gast, Gothic gasts “guest,” originally “stranger”), from PIE root *ghosti- “strange” (cf. Latin hostis “enemy,” hospes “host” — from *hosti-potis “host, guest,” originally “lord of strangers” — Greek xenos “guest, host, stranger;” Old Church Slavonic gosti “guest, friend,” gospodi “lord, master”).

Be my guest.You are welcome; I open the door for you. Come in; but not too close.

The table is set with the good china, crystals and silver; it’s a special occasion, because you don’t belong here. It’s not special if it happens every day; they’re meant to be put away, so that you can enjoy when you take them out.

But there is a place for you, even if you are not at home, and you don’t know the place of things. You don’t fit exactly, the space you occupy hasn’t been shaped by your presence. You’re aware of boundaries and manners; niceties and awkwardness. You’re a guest.

We can enjoy each other’s company because it’s going to end. We can get to know each other just enough to see that the substance may not match the form.

We won’t have to live with each other (not yet, maybe never) so we can appreciate each other’s imperfections. We can get to know them without having to carry their weight, recognize the way they give us shape, make us who we are (imperfect, unique; human); not just anyone.

There is a distance we are not going to fill, but close enough to see: not the same as anyone else.