Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not All Communal Living Involves Pot

I'm thirty years old and I miss college life. This very well could make me a a washed up loser who needs to move on with life, but I don't think so. I just have such a longing for the relational aspect of college life that you don't get again until you're eighty years old and living in a nursing home.

And I have a lot of time before I get to that point.

I loved being able to walk down to a friend's room in the middle of the day and chat. Sometimes those conversations were about nothing while other times we'd work through major life issues without even planning to. Meals could be hours long as groups of people would congregate to be silly together or other times devise plans to change the world. There were days when you could only stay for a minute, but at least you had that moment to make a connection with others, to know that you were not truly alone, even if you had to spend the next eight hours huddled in a cubicle studying.

At curfew during my senior year, I could be sure to find a bunch of girls gathered in the hallway, eating pretzels and nutella, recapping their days. Matt's experience was similar, except it involved a lot more boyish stuff like slugging each other with ping pong balls and pooping on each other. Evidently stuff like this bonds boys together like eating pretzels and nutella does for girls. No matter. The point is, we had people to count on and share life with.

Then we grew up and bought a house. Come to find out the house had Chinese drywall in it, and we lived with Matt's parents for eight months but that's a different story. Kind of. Because while sharing space with your in-laws doesn't sound like the ideal situation, I know that I now have a much greater appreciation for them that I don't think I would have had, had I not lived with them. My brother and sister-in-law lived with my parents for a time as well, and I think the same could be said of their relationship. They lived with them while I was in college and I would come home every summer and break to share a house with them and my oldest niece and nephew. I know that I have a special bond with those kids that I'm sure was developed by living together.

I think I would trade in my house for an apartment. Seriously, I would. Or maybe a condo because I'm pretty sure Matt would never go for throwin' money away for rent. He's all about a good investment, which is precisely why I want to live in an apartment. In a complex with several other families. It's just so hard to truly invest in people when you're scattered all over town. It's so hard to cultivate relationships when half of your time is spent in the car. When I'm sucking as a mom, I want to be able to walk down the hallway to a friend and say, "I'm sucking as a mom. Help bring me back."

Like everyone else we know, we're busy people. When we have an evening without anything going on, we usually just hang out at home. It takes a lot of time and energy to bring people into our space. And let's be honest, unless you do it regularly, it's not always comfortable. It's hard to let your hair down with people you see sporadically. But if we were actually nearby people, then it wouldn't be so difficult. You could just do it.

Matt and I both have all these ideas floating around in our heads that need other minds to cultivate, but how does an idea ever come to fruition when it's being watered irregularly? If I'm not being encouraged with something constantly, I have a tendency to just push it to the back of my mind. I want my family to flourish within an active community of people that are constantly encouraging each other and taking time to work through the difficult parts of life together. Wouldn't that be so much easier if we were actually within close proximity to each other?

Am I just crazy?


kathleen said...

i think this everyday, especially without a car. i can see the beauty of christian community living, going through life with others that are right there. jeffrey and i say that we wish we could buy a huge farm with enough room to house 4 or 5 families and just "do life" together.

Becky Williams said...

you're certainly not crazy. i think this often. between work, home, running here, running there, it is hard to make time to STOP and have open time with others, without the scheduling. that was part of the beauty of college life. you could just float...and get to know so many...and share lives, be challenged, encouraged, and grow. as adults - especially in the country or away from so many others, it is harder to connect beyond the pleasantries.

personally, i love kathleen's idea, with the exception that i would want to be sure to include many from outside the farm frequently as well (though ironically i'm a horribly nervous hostess!)

Kelly said...

Matt has always wanted a lot of land- and I have always wanted to live in a neighborhood so we're near people. Maybe the farm idea would be a good compromise. :) Except I'm still stuck on the apartment idea. A farm seems too isolated. I want easy access to everything. I seriously would sell my house right now and give up half our space to be able to live like this.

gretchen said...

Hey Kelly!! I just found your blog through your facebook. The internet is weird ;) I TOTALLY understand! I'm so so grateful for my time in college. Ironically, I'm actually in the exact type of situation that you're describing! My best friend and her husband own the condo right above us. They are also newlyweds in that last year and we absolutely love love love living "with" them!! I totally recommend it. I told them that when one of us moves away, the other has to buy the house right next door!

Good to hear your thoughts! Your family is gorgeous :)

~Gretchen (Sproul) Lee

Anonymous said...

Kelly, Great post. We lived in a couple different apartments right after we were married and never really spoke with our neighbors...While proximity doesn't hurt, it doesn't necessarily ensure community (or maybe I just have an anti-social streak)...Anyhow, at the risk of trying to help answer a question I wasn't asked, why don't you try to get to know your current neighbors? Maybe throw a great big "block party" or something. My experience has been that your longing for community is shared by the majority of suburbanites as well. Most people don't do anything about it because the path of least resistance is to sit inside and watch TV...Your neighbors are waiting for you to befriend them...

Dustin Fenison said...

this is a great post. The more disconnected Danielle & I get from others the more trouble it is to connect. and the sad part is, if we are honest, we probably prefer it that way. sad & challenging.