How to Host a Guest

You apologize to your guest for the weather, the ice storm that has coated the sidewalks in your crowded Stockholm neighborhood. You apologize that it gets dark so early, but add tomorrow will be sunny and warm.

You apologize for the size of your apartment, though in truth it is like something out of a movie. The kind of place a young, successful woman would live, decorated with the same sense of style that marks your wardrobe. You favor the classics, but some audacious pieces from Vivienne Westwood hang in the closet. You have visited Westwood’s studio, and count celebrities among your friends, a diverse collection of individuals in cities and towns around the world. They marvel at how your life seems so constantly in motion, a shutter-fast series of work projects and ideas, destinations and time zones, captured colorfully on Instagram.

The author's favorite photo of his friend Carolina.

The author's favorite photo of his friend Carolina.

But then there is you at home, apologizing for the lack of space, insisting on sleeping on a roll-up mattress in the living room, giving your guest the bedroom. You make your bed up simply, your laptop perched on the coffee table because you will start working after just a few hours sleep.

After the accident takes you away, this is what your guest remembers. After the clothes are packed away. After he hears the apartment has been sold. He remembers talking well into the night, and he remembers you apologizing, in advance, if you accidentally wake him in the morning. 

 

- T. (Tom) Cashman Avila-Beck is a frustrated creative who lives in Bangor, Maine, where he sometimes gives tourists incorrect directions to Stephen King’s house. Not on purpose, he just has a horrible sense of direction. 

Sleeping Bags for Two or One

Few people know the proper technique for using sleeping bags. I learned how at an early age. Once you learn, you don’t forget.

                                                                                                                       illustration by Ilana Shabnam 

                                                                                                                       illustration by Ilana Shabnam 

You’ll need two sleeping bags, and a best friend. If you don’t have a best friend, I feel sorry for you because best friends are magic. Find one who is kind, likes the same things you do, and has asthma so they’ll stay behind with you to play pretend and tell stories, when the other kids run off to play sports. Go everywhere and do everything together. So that if your best friend died, and someone made a collage for her funeral, they wouldn’t find a single photo of her that didn’t have you in it.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Open both sleeping bags all the way. Place one on the ground. Place yourself and your best friend on top. Cover yourselves with the second. Cuddle and whisper all night. Bite each other’s shoulders as a joke. Giggle, but quietly, because your babysitter is mean when she’s sleepy. Hold on to your best friend very tight. Because she’s magic, and has great ideas about sleeping bags. And because she’s Black, and lives in a poor neighborhood. So if her asthma ever gets too bad, and the ambulance won’t come to her “dangerous” neighborhood, and she’s brain dead by the time her mother drives her to the hospital, and nobody has the courage to tell you what brain dead means, and you write letters and poems and drawings that nobody will tell you she can’t read, and when they finally tell, you climb into your sleeping bag and pretend to be dead as hard as you can, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t cry yourself to death and join her. That, they’ll tell you. So hold on tight. 

                                      text by Ilana Shabnam

                                      text by Ilana Shabnam

Maybe if you hold on tighter.  Maybe if you zip the sleeping bags together. Maybe if you spend the rest of your life shouting about injustice, ambulances will show up at little girls’ houses when they’re called.

I recommend two Little Mermaid sleeping bags. Available wherever Disney products are sold. 

- Ashley Nicole Black

 

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