I live in a commune.
It's not exactly the way I thought it would be. But it is really good.
It's funny, the expectations you have without really knowing it. I tried to be aware of them before we started this communal adventure. But mostly, it's in retrospect, that expectations announce their presence through the feeling of satisfaction or a little surprise or disappointment and then adjustment.
I thought we'd all be relatively happy. But no one predicts when grief and loss will enter our lives.
I thought our communal garden would get more communal attention. But all our tomatoes and most of the peppers have some disease that we didn't catch and deal with in time. Most of our herbs didn't grow(though we're thoroughly enjoying those that did!), the spinach is dying.
I thought when we did do communal work together we'd be listening to loud music, laughing and goofing around. But sometimes we don't work together and our schedules don't coincide, or we're just tired, sweating, and the electricity is off so there is no music--or ipods are in use--which kind of feels like the antithesis to the social bonding through work that I envisioned.
I thought we'd all practice radical hospitality. We're all relatively hospitable folks, but sometimes we say no when people want to stay with us, and sometimes I don't invite friends over because being conscientious of other people's privacy is important and so is creating a space for the growth of our communal relationships.
I thought we might have more energy for each other. But sometimes we need to be alone, and since I'm sort of an extreme extrovert, pretty much everyone (including my husband) needs more alone time than I do.
I thought I'd be less selfish. But I'm really not, and living with other people, makes me realize how much I think about my own needs and preferences over theirs.
On the other hand:
*We live the painful moments together. There are shoulders to cry on. And we live the messiness in the same place.
*There are some things that are just easier and more enjoyable about living together. We might not always do work together, but sharing the load of household responsibilities has made it so much lighter. Like how each family/couple cooks one meal a week. Cooking once a week makes me more inspired and creative--and also appreciated--for whatever I do. And I definitely savor their scrumptious meals at our shared table.
*We all bring something unique and sometimes surprising "to the table." Their presence and perspectives on our everyday life inspire me to think about the world and our place in it differently. Better. Like the day a neighbor threw a rotten onion at Casey while she was weeding the garden. She came in sighing, and I asked why and she shared how the smelly veggie fell from the sky. My first response was "what the hell? who does that? jerk!" Her's was to think about the curiosity that our neighbors must have about us, and begin brainstorming how we can build relationships and open our lives more to the people around us. I love it that she thinks like that. Or when our landlord was getting nasty and I wanted to call a lawyer but Kellen called us to take the higher road.
*And though we do need alone time, when we don't want to be alone someone is always there for us. One day I was wishing my mom or my sister could be part of preparing for welcoming a baby home. I painted the nursery wall and just wanted company. Kellen sat and read a book on my couch and commented when the book inspired a sigh or a giggle while I painted.
*I'm selfish, but my selfishness is more in my face now--Confronted with the ugliness of it--I'm more inspired to re-orient myself away from the natural human tendency toward self-actualization and more towards a purer love for God and the people around me.
So, I look at all this and I say it's good.
And if it is always like this, I'll be disapointed.
I've been practicing acceptance of things in the present. The desire to change and grow is there, but I'm OK with today. Actully, I'm not just OK with it. I love it. and I hope for more.
I started writing this last week and then got distracted. It's amazing to observe communal life evolves even in a few days. Labor day weekend we all spent working in the garden and finishing the chicken house. There was laughter and loud music (KBCO, which is a favorite Colorado radio station which kind of made the entire situation a bit surreal but wonderful to share) This week, as Ben and I have taken a few steps forward toward adoption we could not have asked for a more supportive, encouraging and challenging community to walk with us. We are changing and growing. And we have a thousand reasons to be hopeful.