I have a vivid snapshot from my childhood, a collage, really, of all the times I went to see if my friend Lacey Finklestein could play. Lacey Finklestein was my neighbor who lived two doors down, and she had a cool older sister named Ashley and a brother whose name I don't remember and also a pool. I distinctly remember running down the hot sidewalk (summer afternoons in Montgomery, Alabama were not for the faint of heart or tender of foot) and knocking on her big front door, hoping she would be home. Sometimes she was, and we would spend hours playing whatever games seven-year-olds play in the summer. Other times she would be busy, and I'd run back home. But regardless of the outcome, it was never weird to knock on Lacey Finklestein's front door one, three, or five times a day to ask if she would come out to play (I take that back- it might have been weird. But I didn't think so at the time).
I was thinking about this the other day- about how not weird it was to knock on Lacey Finklestein's door unannounced, and I realized something. Adult me would never show up on someone's doorstep without a text or a phone call first. It would seem like intruding. It has this air of being socially unacceptable, maybe. Why?
I think it has a lot to do with vulnerability. From both sides of the door.
First, the knocker: When you rat-a-tat-tat on someone's door unannounced, there is a chance they will not invite you in. There is potential for rejection, which shouldn't be that big a deal but, if you're anything like me, you tend to take any form of rejection way too personally. And willingly nominating oneself for potential rejection is vulnerable.
Next, the door opener: Let's be honest, there is NO TELLING what state you will be in on a random Monday afternoon. Could be PJs, could be underwear (JUST KEEPING IT REAL), could be the middle of an intense musical theatre singalong session. And then a knock. A knock to which you must respond, at the risk of being caught in the midst of whatever is going on in your zone. Very vulnerable.
Kids don't care so much about potential rejection or being caught in an inconvenient moment. They are wildly resilient, less easily embarrassed, and generally not as concerned with social norms as their adult counterparts. We could take a cue from them, I think.
Adult hangs are much more finely crafted. Partly because we're hella busy, but there are other layers. I only know this because I fall prey to it so often, but there is a big emphasis on going out to meet people. Like, "let's go get coffee at such and such trendy spot," or "hey, this new brunch place sounds nice," or whatever. Do you think there is, just maybe, a little bit of a self-protection thing going on there? I do. When you meet someone out of the house, you can present yourself however you please. Cute outfit, prepared topics of conversation, neutral meeting place. When someone comes into your home, they will see a lot more of, ya know, you. The pictures on your fridge, the books on your shelf. Your not-so-clean bathroom. To invite someone into your home is kind of a next-level friendship thing.
Why can't it be a first-level friendship thing? At what point did running down the sidewalk and knocking on the door to invite your friend out to play become an inconvenience for them and a moment of social weirdness for you?
I have named this summer the "Summer of Spontaneous Hangs and Door Knocks". I want my home to be a wide-open place to gather. I want my door to be knocked on, when I'm not expecting it. And I'll probably start knocking on other people's doors without calling first. Because there is something sacred about gathering in someone's home. Something special and familial in curling up on a couch instead of sitting across from one another at a coffee shop. I want more of that in my life. More entering into people's real life and inviting them into mine, and less putting on a show.
Seriously, don't be surprised if I come over.