My friend Carole and I were sitting in the light, airy San Francisco home of my friend Linda, chatting away. Actually, Linda – who teaches college composition and literature and is an avid birder — is a dear friend of my dear friend Kathi; Linda and I met once when she visited New Jersey and we are connected in a fun, light way on Facebook. I reached out to her when I decided to spend a few days in San Francisco.

“Would you like a slice of Meyer lemon in that?” Linda asked as she handed me a glass of sparkling water.

“I’d love it,” I said.

She had a twinkle in her eye as she said it because we had just been in her yard and had seen that part of her delightful garden setup is a Meyer lemon tree. I was blown away. So she stepped out and plucked one from the tree to share with us.

This, it turned out, was only the beginning of her generous hospitality. We hopped in her car and got a highly informative tour of the city that included Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, the Castro and eventually the Mission. What a gift to have a person extend herself to such a degree. Carole and I were feeling the graciousness all evening, right through dinner at Delfina, where Linda had secured us a coveted reservation.

Having spent days in the Bay Area, I was again and again hit with the depth of the hospitality we received. I’d whiled away an afternoon with my friend Todd in Sausalito and had the opportunity to get a really good sense of the place where he lives and works. Days later Carole and I were joined by our friend Dany and we dined at my cousin’s new restaurant in Los Gatos. The staff at Spinello’s, featuring delicious dishes named after my aunt and uncle, was so welcoming and so warm I was bubbling over with joy when we left.

I live riveted to this feeling of receiving hospitality and now, more than ever, resolve to extend myself more in this way.

I think this comes naturally to some people. Open door. Come on in. Pull up a chair. What can I get you? What can I tell you about this place I’m so passionate about?

Personally, it’s taken me a long time to be so comfortable in my home and my town that I think of rolling out the welcome mat in that way. It was never a conscious decision to not invite people into my world, but lately I have been more inclined to do so. I have friends in for coffee and have even ventured to serve brunch in my spacious kitchen a few times. It needs to happen more.

For someone who loves her home and her town, I realize I don’t share either as much as I’d like to. I suppose for a long time it was about some perfectionist issues around my home being tidy enough, but I sent those walking along with my Spanx when I turned 50.

Time to be hospitable. I’ve been called.

A welcome mat is now on my shopping list.

Written by Nancy Colasurdo

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