There's nothing quite like the realization that you miss your parents to remind you that adulthood isn’t really that far away from childhood at all. That by virtue of being born, you will always be someone’s child. And that being excited for them to visit means you are very lucky.
Once I made the executive decision to move to New York a second time around, and to stay here for as long as humanly possible, it changed my perspective on the whole city and my entire life here. New York went from being an extended holiday to a home.
Suddenly the lifestyle that mostly comprised of crashing through the city transforms into something different. Neighborhoods take on new personalities, becoming characters you start to truly know, and want to continue to know. Not vacation locations anymore.
My beloved Crown Heights has now become a second home, and every home needs a few solid staples. You start investing in your surroundings – local cafes become hubs for befriending baristas and fellow neighbors, local bartenders become your late-night therapists, and you know the best times to hit the Laundromat so you can catch "Good Morning America."
The point is, you start building the necessary comforts around your actual home to create a bigger sense of home. And so, the prospect of my family visiting me for the first time since I moved here three and a half years ago is infinitely more exciting to me now that I have something to show for my time being here – a home.
And they’re not the only ones. Maybe it’s the extremity of my having moved here twice, or my often exaggerated claims that I’ll never return to Ireland.
Or maybe again, it’s a case of investment. The more time I spend here, the more visitors I’m likely to acquire? Because friends are starting to book trips too.
In a remarkable turn of events, I have gone from being one of those people who vowed to never host guests to being one of those people who cannot wait to have everyone come stay with me.
Initially, the prospect of having to entertain people was completely unbearable to me – the thought of having to drag people around the city to check out all the hot tourist spots, pushing through Times Square crowds and queuing for MoMA. Especially so when it comes to guests who have never been to New York before, and want to wander around capturing the entire experience on social media.
Not to mention the expense – the time you have to take off work, the money you have to spend by simply spending time with them on their vacation budget, while you’re still on a regular timeline. And of course, sacrificing personal space because they want to save SOME money by crashing in your bed or on your couch.
When we first moved here, friends would arrive in packs and stay for weeks over the summers. We would run ourselves into the ground, over-working the weeks before they got here, over-partying when they were here. The result was always a catastrophic combination of broken souls and shattered finances.
The difference now is that New York is no longer a novelty location for throwing money at an unnecessarily long party overseas. Now it’s a grown-up location to visit for cultural and gastronomic delights, to spend quality time with someone who no longer lives at home, to explore the new home that they have created for themselves.
Friends are no longer visiting in packs. They’re planning trips in twos and threes, hoping not to impose too much on their host.
They’re also not visiting alone so as not to distract the host too much from work, or put pressure on them to take too much time from their life. As hosts become more embedded in their new life, guests become more considerate in their visitations.
Thankfully my family has been to New York several times before, so I will be spared the usual claptrap of Midtown dealing with other tourists. Instead, I’ll keep them in Brooklyn as much as possible, introduce them to new friends and establishments. And my friend whose parents are visiting a month later feels the exact same.
I think that now, it’s a matter of pride. We spend so many years in school and college, and that weird space after college floating aimlessly through life, that when we finally find an aim we want to show it off. We are millennials who are constantly criticized for flapping about wildly, and when the flapping finally starts to cease we are allowed to have a moment of pride!
Inviting someone into your home is a way to show them a glimpse of your life. And whatever about interior design that comes from someone else’s brain, because it’s the framed family photos that really count in the frame of a family home. The quality of the food you cook, the hospitality you provide.
So, for a twenty-something living in an apartment that has almost no furniture, showing off my home and the life I’ve only just begun to build for myself involves getting a little more creative. It’s walking the streets that I walk, drinking the coffee I drink, eating at the restaurants where I eat.
It’s an exciting prospect to not find your life to be a total embarrassment, to be something worth showcasing, worth inviting people into, worth sharing with the people you love.
So yes, bring on the visitors. Come and see the New York that I see, love the New York that I love, walk around in it and live it and breathe it and understand why I and so many others move here, and decide never to return.
Because it’s not the tourist New York that the I Heart New York slogan comes from. It’s the home that we magically turn it into. Come fly to me, come stay with me, come to my home.