When I was six, "visit" was what we did with the elderly woman who lived across the street. She would come out on her porch to sit every afternoon, and we were expected to come and sit with her. When the weather was nice, I would play with the sycamore balls that her front yard was littered with while my Mum talked to her - when it wasn't, I would sit on a hard olive green leather ottoman in her living room and listen to her tell stories. She was from a bygone era, and though the world around her had changed, her opinions hadn't, so as we walked home I would be given a brief lecture that included a list of the words, terms, phrases, and expressions that I was not to repeat or make a part of my own vocabulary.
Then we switched churches and visited an older lady who had gone to our new church but was widowed and shut-in by that point. She and her sister had married two brothers, long ago, and still lived nearly across the street from each other. We would stop in to see them both, and I delighted their hearts by happily eating huge, jiggling chunks of persimmon puddin', a dessert staple in the small North Carolina town.
Where ever we lived, throughout my childhood, there was always a vintage couch, harking back to the 70s, the 60s, or sometime before, in a hot, knick-knack filled living room where we spent several hours every week. And I loved it. The conversations (if they could even be labelled such) that happened among people my own age were competitive and catty, full of boys and one-up-manship that I had no use for or interest in. But here I found living history, and worldviews that remembered a very different world. Some things have since changed for the better, but overall they held to a set of values and traditions the loss of which has made our culture a far less inviting one - after all, now we're more likely to meet in a neutral location than bring others into our homes. How many of us would be able (and willing) to prepare a hot meal for unexpected guests, in addition to feeding our own family? We live in an age of convenience and privacy.
My peers disdained anyone younger than them and idolized those a few years their senior, but fled from anyone who was truly worth looking up to, writing them off as boring or irrelevant. I loved the combination of formality and warm welcome that I found on those visits --- and it's a love that I hope to cultivate in my own little daughter, both the visiting of others and the inviting of others into our home and lives.
Apologies for my ramblings --- what does the word visit evoke in you?