The Ties That Bind

I find the dynamics of our house to be really interesting (yes, I realize that it’s not my house, but I feel at home there and it’s just easier to call it “my house” rather than explaining to every single person on the planet my living situation).

Lance (aka “the dad”): Lance does some computer job thing where he gets to work from home. This is really nice for him, and I believe benefits his family because he cleans everyday and does dishes and such.

Beth (aka “the mom”): Beth works at Claudia’s school. She used to work from home, I believe. Now she comes home and deals with dinner and such things.

Claudia (aka “the child”): How does one describe Claudia? Hmm… Claudia is very hot and cold. One minute you are her favorite person and the next she is your worst enemy. Either way, I love living with her. She keeps everyday interesting.

Tracy (aka “the niece”): Tracy has just joined us at the commune. Her family moved to Florida, and Tracy graduated from high school early so that she could move back to NC and possibly go to college here.

Linda (aka “Na”): This wonderful grandmother of many has moved in with us for the rest of winter. She goes around and randomly cleans things that you don’t think need cleaning. For example: when I went to bed last night, the bathroom was only partially messy, as we have had a lot of traffic in there for the past two weeks. This morning, at 6am, everything was pulled from under the sink and out of drawers. Linda decided to start this project, as Tracy and I will now be sharing a bathroom. I was a little pissed that I had to step over stuff that early, prior to coffee consumption.

Chester (aka “the very old dog”): The sworn companion of Linda, Chester has also moved into the commune. Chester is a huge Akita… he’s also the sweetest dog on the planet.

Hugo (aka “my boy”): Hugo is my remaining pet. A cat so beautiful that in his next life, he will be Tyra Banks. He is not thrilled with the idea of Chester.

Not an inch of space was spared, or taken for granted, for this Chrismas holiday in the commune. Along with the cast of characters, Tracy’s entire family (including parents, two siblings, large dog and very old cat) were also in the house. Linda’s husband joined us for a few days, and Steve (Tracy’s older brother) came home from college and stayed in the commune off and on for the holiday. In case we weren’t cramped enough, there was also a life-like six-foot Santa Claus standing in the living room, and he has since made his way up the stairs into the hallway.

I have to admit… with the exception of the Santa Claus, I have really enjoyed this. Watching the family dynamic of a group this huge was fascinating. My family doesn’t get along like this, we don’t argue like this, we don’t talk like this or play games. We don’t wrestle with our younger cousins. We don’t read to our siblings or take pictures of the deserts that were made on Christmas Night.

I was honored to be welcome into this environment.

The Suckiest Thing

Everyone knows by now that I love living at the Lob-jo commune. I love the space, the neighborhood… the fact that the kids play right in the street, like when I was a kid. I actually find myself walking Chloe at night and doing toy patrol so that the toys don’t get run over at night. I am really excited that the family will be coming home soon, as the vacation to Florida is coming to a close for the Lob-jo clan.

I hate the drive to everywhere. Since WF is still a newer area, the roads haven’t been widened enough to accommodate all of the traffic. If I want to go anywhere remotely close to friends, church, or family I have to take 540 everywhere. This includes shopping, Earth Fare, etc. I guess it would have been worse without 540.

So, everything take approximately 30 to 40 minutes to get to, which sucks.

I guess that this is the lesser of all of the evils.

Communal Jealousy

Sometimes I am a little jealous of not living in a bigger city… but only sometimes. I have been trying to find some other folks living in community, but being in Raleigh all we have are senior retirement centers. Not exactly what I am looking for.

In an online search, I found this site for some folks in the Chicago area. I later realized that the author or this blog had previously prefaced my communal blog. Neat, huh?

In reading and reflecting on this, I believe that when I return from India that I want to head up a community living home. A place that people can come and go and really live together. Share in bills and food costs. Share rooms, if they so desire. I don’t think that this will fly in Raleigh, so I would have to relocate to another area. Asheville?? Carrboro?? San Francisco?? Boulder?? Who knows.

Purging and Old Habits

Old habits are hard to break. I have absolutely no issue with taking clean clothes out of the laundry basket to wear them, not actually putting them away. Or dishes out of the dishwasher… eventually it will be empty and the dirty ones will be clean again.

Yesterday, I brought the rest of my stuff over from the apartment to the commune. In my attempts to get rid of everything, I find that I have lots… like WAY more than I really want to have. I need to purge more stuff.  I can’t believe that I am saying that. I feel like I should just invite a bunch of people over to see what’s left over and say “take it if you like it”. My original intention was to bring clothing, a few odds and ends, and the animals.

I need to be more disciplined in my efforts to be neater. There is no excuse for me to do these things anymore (not that there was an excuse in the first place). But now, I am trying to fit everything I own into a very small room. At first I was excited about this… Actually, I am still excited about this. But now I have to find places for the residual things that I have. I need to get rid of these things. I need to put them somewhere. I don’t want them anymore.

This is simple. I have too much. I want to have less.

The Big Empty

With the clan off to Florida this morning (can a clan be made of three people?), I woke up to a big empty house. This is the first day that I haven’t had to rush out the door to beat the traffic on 401 so that I wouldn’t be late for work. It’s also the first morning that I haven’t been greeted by Lance and small talk over coffee and bagels. The family will be gone for about two weeks. It will be very quiet.

So, I guess that I will take a moment to define this ‘commune’ that I joke about. Several people have asked if I am living on an actual commune. Yes, in Wake Forest, NC… we have so many actual communes here. (If you can’t sense the cynicism, please move on)

com·mune: a small group of persons living together, sharing possessions, work, income, etc., and often pursuing unconventional lifestyles.

We have a family of three (husband, wife, and daughter) living in a house in Wake Forest, NC. They have taken in a friend from church who needed to get back on her feet. Then over a year later they take in another friend from church, and her animals, so that she can purge everything she owns and save money to move to India for 2 years. In this, they maintain friendships and have to deal with each other’s crap.

Yeah, I would say that this constitutes an unconventional communal lifestyle.

Castle Keys

As the end of my first week approaches, like tomorrow… the Lob-jo tribe will be taking a trip to Florida to visit family. I feel like I have been given the keys to a castle (actually, I don’t have a key yet).

Note to self: get a key to the castle.

It’s strange. I’m extremely comfortable in this house. I don’t generally sleep well anywhere that is away from home… but since this is now home, I guess that is good reason.

With the clan heading south for a few weeks, it seems that I have been given some time to settle into the commune and adjust to where things are and how things work.

I think that it will be too quiet without Claudia around. I really like living in a house with a child. Yesterday afternoon we put her in a laundry basket and rolled her down a hill. IT WAS HER IDEA!! She put herself in the basket and asked me to roll her down the hill. It was superfun. Oh, to be five again.

Coffee

On my first morning in the commune, I was awakened (is that a word) by the smell of toast. It turns out that Lance felt the need to break out the bread machine before bed and I woke up to the smell of bread.

Today’s treat: COFFEE. I was so excited to wake up to the smell of coffee. I happily went downstairs and made a cup to take back upstairs to assist in my preparation for work.

Yay, coffee… Thank you coffee gods.

Communal Evening

Tonight I had the pleasure of sitting around with everyone in the commune (with the exception of Claudia, since it was past her bedtime) and just hanging out. Despite the Presidential Address, which upset Beth very much because Bush is a friggin’ idiot, it was a wonderful time.

Lance shared a few stories of how it came to be that people started to randomly stay with the Lob-jo’s, and therefore leading to the commune. I don’t think that he ever expected to have two extra women living in his house, though.

I also managed to hang up curtains tonight and realized that every article of clothing I own fits into a very small dresser. Life is good.

Mom

Yesterday, I brought my mom to visit the commune. She was interested in seeing where I would be spending my next year. She only hung out downstairs, as she wasn’t feeling very well. Apparently, when I went upstairs to change my clothes she felt the need to tell my hosts that they need to remind me to clean up after myself. Thanks mom!!

We got into the car, and she said how nice everyone was… how beautiful Claudia is. Then she looked at me and said, “I just don’t get it”.

Me: “What don’t you get?”

Mom: “Why would they let random people live in their house? What do they want?”

Me: “Nothing.” (this was when I thought of putting in a joke about Lance running a harem)

Mom: “So, there is another person there too?”

Me: “Yes, Cheryl. We never see her. She works a lot.”

Mom: “So, why do they do this… take in random people?”

Me: “This is how they serve their community. Some people drive folks around. I attempt to organize meals for folks having babies. My knitting buddy cleans the church every single Sunday. Beth and Lance have a big house and this is how they serve, by letting people live in it who are trying to move forward with their lives.”

The concept of ‘community’ has become foreign. I had to explain that Evergreeners do what they can to hold each other up. Serving as a ‘community’ allows this to happen.

Mom: “I wish more people did stuff like that.”

First Morning

Today is my first “normal” day of living in the commune. At least as normal as I think that it can be right now with everything that is going on.

This morning Lance caught me having a bagel, some vegan yogurt, and a glass of chocolate soy milk. He walked in the room with a bright “good morning”, and then said, “damn, girl… you’re as quiet as a church mouse”.

I explained that I have lived alone for the most part for over eight years, I don’t have the need to make a ton of noise. I was more worried about forgetting where I was and walking around naked or peeing with the door open. These are things that I have left behind. This freedom of just doing whatever I want, whenever I want, with no reaction from others.

Adjustments are to be made by all.

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