I’ve just realised an interesting feature of our transition from student life into settled domesticity. It’s a commonplace notion that students have time but no money, while now that we’ve settled into stable jobs and started a family we have money but no time. What I’ve just realised is what this implies for the dynamics of visiting friends.
In our student days we lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam: a very desirable visiting spot. Our friends easily found time to visit, and we could offer a place to stay so they didn’t need to worry about costs. In a sense, and with some exaggeration, by offering a place to stay we were doing them a favour.
Nowadays the “favour economy” is inverted. Our friends are scattered around the world and have families and commitments: getting away for a holiday is a major undertaking. If they visit us we can still host them, but now by giving us a chance to spend time together without having to arrange the travelling, they’re doing us a favour!
At least, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself when I invite myself to visit friends in other places.