In the last two months, two friends from overseas visited me in my new home in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the next two months, two more will be coming by. This is how these visits make me feel:

They make me want to wash all sheets and towels, mop my floor, and do my dishes, all at the same time. As in – all of my domestic enemies become best friends right there on the spot.

I shop food for three courses for every meal—even for breakfast. And I buy more wine than we could drink in a week.

I polish my historic anecdotes, even about the ducks that live by the canal outside my doorstep. (Admittedly, I love these little guys and hope they’ve always been there and will never leave.)

I can’t sleep the night before, and I’m sad you’re leaving before you’ve even arrived.

I get flashbacks to times with you that seemed so outrageously grand from the distance that my mind had begun thinking someone else had experienced them…

I think of all the amazing people who’ve graciously taken me in, too, and done their sheets and dishes for me, and told me all about their homes, who’d dug up old memories from times long gone and cried when I left… I finally feel like I can pay some of the magic of hospitality forward.

Visits are better than the letters I love to write, convenient emails that are sent so fast, and, duh, the (bitter-)sweet promises of Facebook. They are your willingness to be my guest, and my excitement to share my little sphere with you. They make traveling personal and departing bearable. That’s what visits mean to me, at the bare minimum.