In a previous post I have described the LOOK–the look that I sometimes receive when I tell people about our upcoming venture into community life. To be more specific, the LOOK is a mixture of awe and confusion, surprise and concern, something along the lines of, “wow you must be crazy but go with your bad self”, “good for you hippies, glad it’s not me” or just “interesting concept, but I need more space.”
Last night was different.
I was at a dinner party chatting with two mom-friends, and I found myself telling them that another family was about to move in to our house. Another family… dum, dum, dum… with two little boys the same age as our two girls. One mom gave me the look right away, but the other… well, her face softened.
“We talk about doing that with friends of ours,” she confessed. “It’s just ideal, you know, living with other people. Sharing life. Raising our kids together. We’ve talked about it for years. It’s just… well, I just don’t think that it will ever really happen, you know? It’s just harder than you think.”
She (and the other mom friend, having recovered from the look) peppered me with questions–how did this come about? Did we really think that it would work? How long did we plan to have them live there? How big was our house? Did they have their own kitchen?
I tried my best to answer their questions, some being easier than others (do they have a kitchen?-no, do we really think this will work?-uhh… hope so). But as I talked about our plans, I was increasingly intrigued by my friend’s experience. Why was it so hard for she and her friends to make it work? Everybody owned houses… yeah that’s an obstacle. There was a bad experience of living with a family member… tough to try again. She just didn’t know if they were “good enough communicators” (“not like you, Jen” she said and I pictured all my former housemates laughing uproariously).
“I just don’t know how to know if it will go well,” she concluded, and I turned her words over in my mind, picturing the (eight?) housemates who have come and gone, and imagining the ones still to come. “I don’t know,” I admitted, “but so far, I would say it’s gone well. Some relationships have been easier than others, there have been hard times, but it’s always been worth it.” And to my great relief, I was telling the truth.