I hardly ever have out-of-town guests. A lot of this comes from the fact that most of my friends and family are smart enough to live in or near Chicago. But this month, by sheer coincidence, I have not one but two friends from out of town coming to stay with me–one, my former co-worker Erin, who now lives in Lawrence, KS, and the other, my friend Charlie from college, who now lives all the way across the pond, as they say, in London.
This has necessitated some changes around the casa de Claire. Most notably, I’ve had to clean the non-master bathroom, which doesn’t get used much when it’s just me around here. I dug out some hotel-stolen soap and pulled out a spare towel, because I’m just that accommodating.
I also bought a daybed. I’m going to pretend this is for my guests, because they can in fact sleep on it, but really, it’s a convenient place for me to nap when the stress of working from home (which I hope to be doing a lot of very soon in my new job) gets to be too much for me. So many pillows. So much comfort.
But the most important preparation for out-of-town guests is figuring out what to do with them while they’re here. In this task, it’s important to keep your guest in mind.
For example, Erin is book-crazed. I don’t mean to imply anything negative in this; it’s simply true. I mean, she went from a career in publishing to being a librarian. So I want to show her some of the best of Chicago’s live lit scene: we’re planning to hit The Paper Machete, Mortified, and the Moth.
Charlie, on the other hand, will be coming to Chicago at the tail end of a whirlwind trip across North America, including stops in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nova Scotia, and California. So I’m guessing that this visit, like most of our friendship, will involve sitting in a classic Chicago tavern like Cunneen’s or the Gingerman, drinking beer, shooting pool, talking complete nonsense, and perhaps thrifting some pants.
The key in both of these plans is to match up what the guest in question wants (literature or relaxation, respectively) with what your town has to offer (entertaining, cheap live storytelling and unpretentious, cheap beers, respectively).
OK, let’s play a game. I’m coming to your hometown. I like live music, books and storytelling, craft beer, breakfast, and any form of water–rivers, lakes, whatever you’ve got. Where would you take me?