Modern Family: Why Communal Living Works For Me
I have a dream. (Ugh, did she really just say that?) I sure did, and itâ€™s oh-so-appropriate here because a dream is exactly what Iâ€™m about to describe. I dream of my children growing up with other children whose parents are caring and creative and open-minded. I envision those other parents teaching my children some of the things that I canâ€™t, like how to build a bridge or care for chickens. I see myself learning from them, too, and I imagine sharing my personal talents in a lifelong information exchange. The kicker is, I dream of this all happening right where we live â€“ in a big house that we share with another family on a big piece of land with a few other houses for more friends and family to live in. Yes, maâ€™am â€“ I want to build a commune.
Looking back, itâ€™s safe to say Iâ€™ve exhibited a predilection for communal living. I shared a bedroom with my younger sister for years without much complaint and I never longed for a single room in my college dorm, even though it seemed like the cool thing to want. The summer between my sophomore and junior years I lived in a house with seven guys and didnâ€™t mind their relative filth and stench as long as I had my own bathroom. After graduating, I worked for a band and lived on their tour bus for eight months â€“ and yes, those quarters are as close as they sound.
Perhaps the most telling factoid is that I have never actually lived alone. Not ever. This was not by accident or for lack of affordable housing. I simply never wanted to. Iâ€™ve known lots of people who felt a true need to experience life in a solo dwelling, and I get it, but I have always wanted to have lots of people around.
Which brings me to the present day and my very real desire to create a living situation for my family that involves shared spaces, shared meals, lots of shared responsibilities and tons of shared joy. The current (and evolving) list of participants in my non-traditional living experiment includes our neighbors, a family of three, as well as four unmarried and childless folks who are just crazy enough to throw themselves into the mix before itâ€™s even officially their turn to help with potty training or clean up after a gaggle of toddlers.