I have a friend whom I first met when she became a customer 13 years ago.At the time,and for the next 10 years I ran a business from home and we hit it off pretty immediately,and as she was new to the area,after years of working abroad,and knew very few people outside her work DH and my family made her very welcome.Over the years she would often stay on for a coffee and chat ,a piece of cake fresh from the oven and the odd meal when the weather was bad or she'd had a tough day.She worked very close to our home and I would often be starting to prepare dinner,and she would still be sat at the kitchen table chatting,never in a rush to go home.At the time my DCs were still at home /uni and around a lot.And she was genuinely very helpful to them,getting one some work experience and offering another lots of help whilst studying for the same profession she was in.And very generous with gifts at Xmas and birthdays to the point it was almost embarrassing how much she spent on us,till I put my foot down and said let's limit presents to small things.In many ways she's been a very valued friend,who has helped me through tough times too,and I have told her so.
After 10 years I reorganised my business so I no longer worked from home as it became too intrusive,plus we never felt 'off duty'.At about the same time my friend,went through a very bad patch at work and decided to take early retirement, helped by her union securing a severance package for her ,but felt she wanted to and needed to still work and earn in some capacity.She announced she was going to start up an identical business to mine,and as we live on opposite sides of town I was happy to pass on contacts,customers and DH also gave lots of help and advise on the accounting and equipment side of things.
We've continued to be friends,but as she used to work very close to our home and is now busy further away naturally don't get together as often.But regularly talk on the phone /text about our businesses and TV progs, books etc like we always did. Plus meeting up for dog walks and coffees about once or twice a month.
However I've come to realise that despite countless hours sat in our kitchen,the offer to use our bathroom when hers was being redone and when her boiler packed in etc I never,ever get an invite back to hers.I can count on one hand the times I've been there,and that was picking her up to go on somewhere else.I did several times feed her cats when asked whilst she was on holiday,but that was several years ago.
I've noticed that if I ever suggest calling in there is always some excuse,and she will come to our house as she is 'up that way anyway '.She broke her ankle badly recently at home and rang us, and as I'd just set off somewhere for the day,DH went straight to her and took her to A +E and sat with her for hours till she was seen.However since then I have offered to call in with books,cake and company but have been rebuffed yet again.She has recently befriended another couple who live nearby and it seems they are calling in daily to drop off shopping and take her dog out.
I think I know the crux of the matter is we have very different attitudes to our homes.She loves knick knacks and 'stuff ' and I know after her parents died,another time DH and I happily provided support,she cleared out their house and then couldn't bring herself to get rid of a lot of it,and had boxes of it piled up.I think she did eventually sort it out.I knew as an only child she found it painful to sort through it,in fact she told me so and at the time I offered to help,saying she knew I liked nothing better than a good clear out .She declined the offer,and I understood it was very personal to her .I like a homely home with dogs and a cat,but generally like a minimalist decor and like to clean and tidy.That's just me.But as long as I can perch on a chair with a mug of coffee in someone else's house I really don't care,and I would just like to feel welcome.I think her recent accident has really highlighted this and tbh I feel rather hurt.My DD has said for a while she thinks possibly my tidiness and her tendency to hoard (she's used that word herself)is the reason but it annoys me to think she thinks I'm that judgemental.I actually love the cosy clutter of a lot of other people's homes.And although tidy I know my home is not sterile,with cushions, throws candles and dog beds etc.
I'm resigned to the fact I will not got invited over,but when I offered to drop in this morning after a trip to a lovely bakery and walk nearby,even though she's unable to drive and sat there with her leg in pot I actually thought 'oh stuff it '!Is it me ?