(disclaimer: wordpress keeps freezing on me and then I lose entire posts because it also does not save drafts for me. This is a late night re-creation of a post I wrote earlier today…and I think the original was a lot better.)
This word is my preferred way of living, by far, and not just because I came of age in the 1960’s when that was all the rage. I did live in actual communes in my late teens and early twenties, and I thrived in that setting!
But really, I was kind of raised that way in the first place.
My Mom was a single working mother and was so well-loved by all of my friends, they all called her “Mom”. At several points in my young life, there were many other kids (besides our three) who either lived with us or crashed on the living room floor in sleeping bags….this latter category often as a short respite from their own broken and painful homes. During my highschool years (before I prematurely left home myself) a few times, my Mom would even find one of her extra “kids’ passed out on our front lawn. She would nurse them back to sobriety and eventually send them to their real homes to try to work things out.
And my mother also had other single-mom friends who would be around (or not), kids in tow (or not). My tiny childhood home, when my Dad was out of the picture, was delightfully unpredictable and often filled with additional people, bringing a variety of interactions, activities, and support. There was always someone to talk to.
When I became a young single mother myself, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to open up my home to other young women in similar boats….the more, the merrier after all. That expanded to renting rooms to students from a very close-by college. And before I knew it, many years of this lifestyle flew by, and I had lived with so many people and kids and animals, I almost lost count. I wrote a post all about it for my friend Badfish. You can read about it here:
One of my favorite experiences of communal living was on a Once-in-a-Lifetime (which turned out to be twice) extended trip to the South Pacific. Me and my six closest people, as well as a crew of four, lived together on a 95 foot yacht called the Tau, for well over a month. We sailed down around and explored the Southern Lau Islands (Fiji).
We lived on the TAU (in Fijian, it means friend) and though it was a beautiful and spacious ocean going craft, it could be crowded, so we had to develop some communal living rules to live by (like honoring the silence above deck during sunrise and sunset… Oh, and flushing only 3 squares of T.P. at a time or incurring the wrath of our Captain!)
Now, in these later years of my life, I think my version of Communal Living would be more like some of the wonderful Co-Housing communities born in the greater Seattle area this last 20 years or so. But I currently have a houseful of people I dearly love (my partner, my son and two grandsons, and a long-time family friend…oh and three cats) And we will live together communally in this rustic old house, for as long as the current economy will allow.
I have some very close people in my life-my adopted sister, my son, and my best friend-(all introverts) who cringe at my chosen lifestyle, but they can’t be surprised. Co-Housing and Communal Living is in my my history, my blood, maybe even my genes.
Though I am not a Mormon, my great, great grandfather was Brigham young. If you have come across his history, you know that at least 16 of those 55 wives, lived in row houses close to the Salt Lake City Temple.
And you just know they lived communally.