Monday, March 22, 2010
2 cups of coffee & the meaning of commune
This morning I reminded myself of my grandmother. For probably two decades every time we have a family gathering she will at some point look around with pre-emptive nostalgia and say: “this might be the last time that we’re all together.” Her comment is inevitably followed by eye rolling and hugs.
Tomorrow I’m picking up the Kurtz family in Entebbe. The Hoins come in a month.
This morning, while Ben and I sat on the front veranda sipping our habitual coffee, I said it: “this might be the last time we’re alone like this.”—OK, I admit I’m being dramatic, but it really is going to be a much more rare occurrence that the two of us share the solitude of a quiet morning cup of coffee in a house where we’re the sole occupants. “Our life force is about to expand,” Ben smiles. “We need to buy more mugs,” I decide, and make a note on my expanding to-do list.
The other night I semi-jokingly told a group of friends that we were starting a commune. I say “semi” joking because—we sort of are. But I just feel goofy using the word, like I’ll either be dismissed as some kind of crazy hippy or like I’m formalizing and glorifying a rather common phenomenon: living in the same house with a bunch of friends. Someone asked, what I meant—and I responded something to the effect of: we really like each other, and want to do life together, encourage each other’s visions, and vocations and share resources. The questioner, asked, “then, you won’t, like, grow food together?” I don’t know why that seems to be an integral part of a commune—but somehow the collaborative production and consumption of food does appear a central feature of communal living. Yes, I answered confidently—we’re going to have a big garden and grow veggies—and keep hens and eat lots of eggs and vegetables together. Does that mean I will live in a commune? I didn’t really know, so I broke a sacred taboo. I did something self-respecting PhD students are NEVER EVER supposed to do, or at least, admit to doing: I referenced Wikipedia.
My synthesis of the authoritative wiki voice: A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions resources, work and income. Decisions are made by consensus. We reject the idea of hierarchy and bureaucracy as necessary to have social order (on a small scale). We try to live with a light ecological footprint. We recognize the importance of a group beyond the nuclear family. We have emotional bonds to the whole group. We share housework, childcare and other communal activity. We’re profoundly egalitarian.
I think we’re starting a commune.
But I guess I can’t really decide that on my own. The 7 of us have to reach consensus. What do you think folks?
Wikipedia tells me communes are no longer associated with free-love and flower children. “(P)ragmatics rather than psychedelics” rule the day. I suspect the fact that they have to spell that out indicates more the presence of the continued association rather than the evolution of common perception. Well, we’ll see how it all unfolds, and keep posting.