Featured Image: I went on a walk a few weeks ago and came across a commune of birds– swans, geese, ducks, pigeons, and seagulls all hanging out together (see bottom of post for geese and pigeons). For some reason it made me cry.
I had covid last week. Which means I spent 10 days alone in my apartment, realizing how important human connection truly is. Of course, as you know, I lost a lot of friends in 2021 and have been trying to rebuild my circle. It’s scary how much harder it is to make friends when you lack a pre-established structure like classrooms, dorm rooms, work break rooms, even local hangouts like dive bars and coffee shops where you see regulars consistently. Covid has made socializing all that much harder.
While I am glad to have had the plague in the year 2022 and not 1920, because at least we have a plethora of social media to connect with people, but catching up with someone through DMs doesn’t quite do it. Reading feeds like a daily newspaper does not make me feel like a part of any community, it just makes me feel like an outsider peeking into the lives of those I barely talk to or even know.
I have always had trouble making and maintaining friends. The friends I made in college just happened to be my suitemates, and one day they plopped themselves in my doorway and we got to know each other. My first best friend was my neighbor. My second best friend was in my homeroom in middle school. Friendships, when you are young, are easy because you are constantly in the midst of people your own age. But what happens when we all go our separate ways? Are we just supposed to be “young professional” lone wolves until we get married and have kids and join the PTO just so we can hang out with the other moms whose kids also have a tablet addiction?
A few weeks ago I drove by a 55+ community. It had a bunch of reasonably sized homes, all fairly close to each other with sidewalks and gardens intertwining them. I imagined knocking on your neighbor’s door for sugar and them knowing exactly who you are and offering the sugar with no restitution required besides joining them for tea later that day. I imagined book clubs and bingo nights and a convenience store that they share shifts at. I imagined affordable rent. I imagined a 22+ community.
I don’t know any of my neighbors around my new apartment. It’s not like I can just knock on anyone’s door and introduce myself, they might think I’m legally bound to identify myself as a pedophile, or worse, a Jehovah’s witness (kidding). I once had to buy $6.99 unsalted butter from the gas station near my apartment because I don’t know my downstairs neighbors well enough to feel comfortable asking for 4 tablespoons.
We have Discord servers, Facebook groups, DnD campaigns, book clubs, and adult softball leagues because we crave a community. I crave co-operation more than anything. That is human nature; it has always taken a village. We should be able to rely on each other. It doesn’t have to be every man for himself.
When I have a plumbing issue, or a legal issue, or a deck to be built, or a driveway to be plowed, or a dress to be hemmed, or a child to be tutored, I want to just be able to “know a guy”. Or know a guy who knows a guy. I want shared resources and a bartering system. I want a community garden. I want free clubs and events that everyone’s welcome to join. I want someone to knock on my door to see if I’m feeling okay when they notice I forgot to take my trash out. I want no one left behind when they’re feeling down. I want to be a part of something that I can support and contribute to.
I want a village.
Also want to note that capitalism loves the whole young professional lone wolf/every man for himself thing because it keeps us from unionizing, talking about wages, talking about injustice, sharing ideas— it keeps us divided enough, and tired enough, and hopeless enough to never demand change. It keeps us moving out from our parents and living alone which means more rent and mortgage paid, multiple utility bills, and every household object is now bought again.
My parents neighborhood works well in that way; we swim in each other’s pools and water each others plants when on vacation, and share weedwhackers and other various tools. One guy smokes a lot of meats and has everyone come eat or brings it over. They all know a guy who does this or that and can fix that for you. The dads constantly walk into my garage when they see my dad working on his car so they can help or just chat. Granted they have shared the neighborhood and raised kids together for over 20 years, but we need more of this cooperation!
And a question for all of you; What’s your ideal “village”?