Back in 2006, when I was only 18, I was surrounded by some newfound friends and we had all fallen in love with each other’s company. We braved this new world of a state university and took on all of its challenges and rewards together. We were a mixed cast, with people varying in ambitions, disciplines, and upbringings. However, we were bound in that we all lived in the same dorm without A/C, where we had to deal with this really creepy guy who lived in the single dorm, and we confided in each other that we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into with college. We were good friends for that year–passionate is the better word to describe the intensity of it. Many days and nights were spent together on the roof of cars watching the sun rise, in the thick backwoods behind the highway talking shop, wheeling these giant spools up and down the lawn, and throwing our own wholesome parties with our own homemade Slip-n-Slide.
Many of us are still around today, still friends. Things are, however, much different. A few fell out. A few grew apart. Others just faded away. It’s not the same as it once was, and I’m okay with that–we all have our own lives to live. This is just the way things are these days with everyone. When you form a group of friends from all over the country (and some parts of the world) with such varied interests… it’s understandable that we’d all find our paths leading elsewhere. We just celebrate the small moment where all our circles shared a piece with each other.
There was always this one recurring conversation that comes up whenever we all find a moment to meet up, and catch up. It’s a simple statement, but one that always sparks so many dreams and then always ends with a heart-breaking pang.
“Wouldn’t It Be Cool if We All Lived Together?”
It would. It would be perfect. Imagine: if all your friends and family (who you cared about) lived just a few blocks–hell, maybe even just a few minutes of a drive–away? How amazing would that be? It was always just a light-hearted and idealistic joke, but I remember that this is what Smalltown America was like before (not saying it was without its drawbacks) globalization. My friends and I would joke about how our kids would grow up to be friends just like we were, and that we would go over each other’s house just like we would go over each other’s dorm rooms. Then we laughed. Then we grew up. Then life went on.
If everyone I knew and held dear lived close, what an enriching life my life–and my family’s life–would be. With my group of friends and family nearby, we wouldn’t have to cook dinner every night; we’d just rotate between each other’s homes and host each other all the time. If Lily and I were working late, Teddy would just have to stroll over a few hundred feet to a friend’s and hang out there. We’d all help each other out, and we’d all help each other grow and raise each other’s families.
I loved the idea of Teddy growing up around my friends and family. How lovely it would be if he could just go around the block to learn how to sew from his aunt Cindy, or could just go over to hang out with his cousins? I want to send him out to the mountains with his uncles Mark and Alex, so he could learn how to be an outdoorsman and be a martial artist. Maybe Olga can teach him how to sing, or Tim can teach him how to be an FPS god…. The sleepovers, the cookouts, the birthday parties, the trips. The examples go on with my multitude of friends and family.
I’ve been thinking about that more these days. As I watch Teddy play, eat, sleep, and be the cutest damn baby I’ve ever seen… I think about his future quite a bit. I think about the school he’ll go to, the friends he’ll meet, the weekends our family will have together, going over his cousin’s house to play, hanging out with his uncles and aunts–even the ones who aren’t blood related. I’m reminded that the crop of aunts and uncles for Teddy to visit is much smaller than what I had dreamt of a decade ago. One of my sisters lives 4+ hours away, another lives only 45min (and even then I consider that a stretch of a drive). I’ve got friends in California now, or in Colorado, and one of them is in Amsterdam, and another just bought a house in Long Island. Friends and family are getting farther and farther away.
I know there are a multitude of legitimate reasons why this will never be, but I just wish we could all chip in to buy a big chunk of land, a massive property, and live in a commune.