January 20, 2018

A Visit (Not Today)

A Visit (Not Today)
By John R.Greenwood 

I felt the urge to sprinkle some words down on paper and bring them with me for my visit. Like bringing a three-bean casserole or loaf of fresh baked banana-nut bread. People don’t come for visits anymore. There are no surprise knocks on the door. Saturday afternoon visits in the knotty-pine den in my childhood home are now reduced to clicking a Facebook “like” on a friends dinner plate photo. There are no faces or voices left, only vagueness and a slight sense of what their laugh was like when someone shared a, “Remember the time” moment. 

Growing up, our front door was never locked. In fact, unless it was cold enough for the heat to be on, the front door was usually propped open with a ceramic frog. There was no peephole or deadbolt. No paint or varnish either. 

When my father’s friend Jack came to visit he would knock a half-dozen machine gun knocks then burst in the door. You always knew it was Jack by the way he stomped his feet on the  coco fiber Welcome mat. I smile thinking of his forced entry, his wavy grey hair, and his gossipy news from the village up the road a mile. 

I miss those days when friends and relatives would pull in the driveway unexpectedly and stay for a long afternoon visit. I miss the shared stories, the laughing, and the intimacy of real live people in our home. That’s why I needed to write this down and share it, so that you might unfold the moment one day and recall the day a friend stopped by for a visit. 

* I wrote this piece in anticipation of sharing it with a writing class I was planning to visit this morning. As I've been known to do I got the date wrong and the class had been moved to another date. I thought the simple piece was still worth sharing here. Thanks for stopping by, it's been awhile... -jrg


  1. I loved reading this today. Wistful, happy and a just a tinge of sadness in your memories. Thank you for sharing them. Pamela

  2. Knock, knock...your writing is a reminder of just how things have changed. Grandma Mamie always had something on hand to offer an unexpected visitor to eat. I never had the opportunity to practice. I think it's now a lost art. Thanks for the fun memories, John. BTW, you and Mrs. G are welcome to visit any time. I may not have anything to offer to eat, though.

  3. John - I'm so glad you felt the urge to write this and that I decided to check on your blog (discovered through Jon Katz's blog a couple of years ago) tonight. You have written so well what I have been thinking for several years now. People don't "stop by" anymore. I know people who actually don't want unexpected visitors, so we always have to make a "date". Well, I really miss the days when people felt comfortable enough to just drop by, knock and open the door with a loud "Hi!" - they were always welcome, no matter the disarray of the kitchen table or the dust in the corners - they always accepted us the way we are. A perfect house was not the point. Comaraderie was the point. I miss it, too - a lot. Lovely writing, John.
    Barrington, NH