With every inquiry and every guest we learn something new. This time the lesson was about fear and trust, something Erikson called a “conflict between Basic Trust vs. Mistrust.” Now, I should have gone through all this by the time I was 2, yet 50 odd years later I still need to ask myself, ‘Can I Trust The World?’ I must have had an OK childhood because I do trust the world, maybe too much. But that trust isn’t unshakable and it quickly changed when my wife introduced some scary thoughts. Right before my third guest arrived, half an hour before to be exact, she asked me the basic question: Who’s coming tonight?
A couple from Indiana. He sounds very nice.
That’s weird. I thought it was two girls.
Well, she said two girls in the email, right?
No. I just assumed it.
I never asked…it was just the way her emails were. I thought it was two female students from Indiana.
I didn’t like my answers, but my wife really hated them. She must have had a difficult childhood, not at all trusting The World. What happened to all those stories I’d heard of Japan (where she grew up) — never locking their doors, the trusting neighbors who looked out for you, people returning wallets, money intact! Maybe things changed when she came to America and read In Cold Blood, a nasty novel about a nasty crime. So now she went through all imaginable possibilities, and they weren’t pretty. What if our guests were Pelican Bay prison alums back for a crime spree? It was funny until I started to see it her way. In spite of my trusting ways, I started in on my own what-ifs.
What if …
What if …
What if …
By the time we got home I’d worked up a sweat. Inside the house I hit the computer, googling the name in the emails, image searching, clicking and double clicking, reading and rereading the search results. Somewhere in the mix, yes, an artist and academic with the same name, with a connection to the Midwestern town mentioned in all the emails. Was this the person due at our bnb? We couldn’t be that lucky.
Then we heard the car.
Inside the house we were silent, feet nailed to the floor.
Before opening the door I looked out through a small side window. It wasn’t a beat up truck. No broken windows. Obviously, a rental car. So far, so good.
A man steps out and heads for the trunk, removes two suitcases and then opens the passenger side door. As the passenger exits the car and heads for our house I recognize her from the web. No worries, I call out to my wife. It’s her, it’s really her.
We both let out a huge breath we’d stored in our lungs. This time we were ok, but we started thinking about this bnb business a little differently. We put so much personal information out on the web and ask very little from the people who end up staying in our home. Meg had made a point about the crazy mysteries we would have to deal with in this business — and for a moment back there I caught myself thinking the worst. But if a picture tells a story can you see how crazy we were to be so freaked out?
Tom and Liang-yu were anything but trouble. The two days they stayed with us we enjoyed conversation over a bottomless pot of coffee in the morning and over endless cups of tea at night. In between they took off for hikes, drives, and rambling on the beach. It’s a cliché so shoot me but they were the perfect guests. And when I found out Liang-yu loved to cook, and saw her food blog with dozens of photos of what she’d cooked up, I flipped out. She was truly an artist. Before they left I got a few tips on breakfasts I could learn to cook (but I can always use more!).
I’m not sure I’d necessarily stops for hitchhikers on the side of the road (I’ve read In Cold Blood too), but for now I’ll stick with my trusting the World.