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The Joy of Hosting
In recent weeks, I’ve had friends over for tea, for dinner, for snacks, and for fun. I’ve lived in the same apartment for nearly six years now, and I’ve been generally afraid to host because it feels like a small space. Mind you, most spaces in New York are small (Note: have you ever been inside a fitting room in NYC and not had the immediate urge to teleport yourself literally anywhere else?), and I’ve never thought twice about it. But naturally, I set overly high expectations for myself and dangle them like a carrot just out of reach.
“Maybe when I get a bigger apartment… maybe when it’s warmer and I can host outdoors instead… maybe when I’m not so tired from work.”
Our minds will come up with excuses to get out of anything. Our minds can understand when something is good for us, e.g. working out or eating healthy, and still not want to engage in it at all.
Somehow I’ve willed myself to host just a bit, and this recent flirtation with hosting is something I’m utterly consumed by in this moment. Years ago I read Priya Parker’s “The Art of Gathering,” which inspired and educated me on the power and responsibility that accompanies hosting anything, whether it’s a tiny dinner party, a wedding, or a conference. The book also made me feel slightly intimidated at the prospect! Tidbits of it have lingered with me, particularly around setting intentions and norms for any gathering, and really thinking through the details. While there’s a decent amount of work involved in hosting — and there doesn’t have to be, you can make your guests part of the planning process — there’s also so much joy in it. The work is the thing that put me off from hosting in the first place — it’s too much, I’m too tired, everyone is too busy, it won’t be worthwhile. With this spiraling thought pattern swirling around my brain, I never fully stopped to consider the joy I could get out of it.
I’ve now learned that as a host, I love to turn into a fairy godmother. I love to float around the space, feeling omnipotent and carrying an invisible magic wand, ensuring everyone is enjoying themselves. In my magician/fairy godmother host role, I love to anticipate people’s needs before they can even consider them.
Welcome into my home, let me take your coat, here’s water and a beverage, the bathroom is right over that way in case you need to wash subway germs off your hands, and here are some snacks to whet your palate.
This is why I made this treat, this is what made me think of you, I hope you like it, and really truly, I want you to love it.
I made this playlist because this gathering deserved a proper soundtrack. I’ll share it with you afterwards so we can remember this night.
This is all work — the same work I was content to avoid for years on end. This might sound like a lot of pressure but it’s a sort of challenge that I love. I now understand why my Mom had ~20-50 people over for dinner parties throughout the year, spending so much time and effort into an elaborate meal and pining over little details. When you surround yourself with wonderful people, the work and the details are worth it.
I didn’t realize how much this work would fill my cup and pour right back into me. I think it has something to do with the way hosting can be an expression of love, and I genuinely feel like part of my life’s purpose is to show and tell the people in my life how they make me feel, how much I care about them, and that I love them. I do this with words often, shout out to the group chat with Mallory and Manouska that contains both written + vocal expressions of love on a semi-weekly basis. But not everyone can reciprocate those words right back, or the feelings I think I’m imbuing in my words aren’t received in the way I want them to be. And that’s normal and fair! We can’t expect that of others. Hosting feels like a very tangible, concrete way of showing others that we care for them and that we want them to be happy.
Let me make you a martini. I love you.
This recipe is my mother’s, both cooking it and eating it bring me great comfort. I want you to experience that same feeling of comfort. I love you.
Here’s a platter of cut fruit with some tea. I love you.
Hosting makes me think of this line from this lovely poem: ‘I love you. I want us both to eat well.’
I let all of my twenties go by with minimal hosting. Instead of lamenting the past, I’ll just try to host more in the future — maybe this is my Iranian New Year’s resolution (coming up next week!). A special shout out to Mallory and Manouska for coming over for the dinner party that inspired this Consumed.