Anytime I feel proud of some facet of myself, it’s almost guaranteed to come around and whack me in the head.

The other day, for instance, John and I agreed to put up some people who will be walking from Providence to Boston to draw attention to the plight of Tibet. Most of the walkers will sleep on the floor in sleeping bags – an arrangement we’ve grown accustomed to from years of having our sons’ friends crash on our floor.

We’ve always had pretty relaxed house boundaries. Over the years, we’ve exchanged homes with British and French families, and hosted strangers who contacted us via Having a business that operates out of the attached barn, I’m used to people coming and going. Most days in the summertime, someone is here at 6:45 a.m. loading up for a farmer’s market. Employees let themselves in every day, and there’s always a UPS delivery guy around.

I generally like living this way. I like feeling that my house is a permeable container rather than a fortress. I was pleased that our house could accomodate the Tibetan group, and even more, I was pleased with us, for being the kind of people who would welcome such a visit. Many people, I thought, were too private and protective of their stuff to live like we do. An open house could even be considered a step towards an open heart, towards reducing excessive attachment to I/me/mine.

Yes, you could say, I was feeling rather smug.

So of course, here’s what happened the very next morning. After a bad night’s sleep, I staggered out of bed at 8 a.m. I was sitting on the toilet with no clothes on, eyes half shut and my hair sticking up wildly, when I heard a small voice coming up the stairs from the living room below.

“Hello? Is Ann available?” It was Karl, the young man who makes the soap. He’d come in early that morning.
“NO I’M NOT!” I growled. “What is it?”
“Uh…could you come down here for a minute? I have some things I want to show you.”
“Uh, no.”
“GOOD! I’ll see you at 9:00”.

Grumble. I guess I do have boundaries after all.