Wednesday, August 30, 2017

All Generations

Recently, I met a friend who has children at the local park. Thunder rolled as we pulled up. We had nowhere to go. The library was closed. There was nowhere for two women and their three children to gather away from the thunder.

Why is this? Why are there hardly places for families? Why are there so many places where families are not welcome? Why is age mixing in gathering places so inadequately met? Why are our activities often engaging only one age group at a time?

***

Some Wednesdays, Beren and I go to Bridge Cafe in Frenchtown. [It is our new Boro Bean, a cafe in Hopewell that was just a couple minutes form our old house.] A group of woman elders who all do fiber arts gather. 
 
I sip my chai, he sips his hot chocolate, and we watch the needles move. Felting, cross stitch, knitting, crocheting. The women talk family, travel, politics, and crafts. Every Wednesday they meet.

I encourage Beren to move closer. Occasionally, we talk with the women. One gives Beren a felted cardinal.

***

I want to be with all generations - 
Tiny ones, I learn from the way to see the world, new and unfettered and expectant of love.
 
Growing ones, I learn from how you grow and meet challenges. You are learning to walk - I am in awe of you.
 
Children, I learn your exuberance. You meet the world with joy and determination.
 
Youth, I watch as you navigate the world with certainty and uncertainty. 
 
Peers, I walk with you.
 
Elders, I come to you for solace and inspiration and assistance.

All, your good years are now. I need you all.
 
I have so much to learn from you. It is my responsibility to mentor and be mentored, to guide and be guided, to protect your joy and be protected, and to challenge and be challenged. It is my responsibility to now when to move closer and when to step back.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Another Way


 Clamming at the shore - providing for our needs for adventure and food

A tribe is a group of people that rely on each. They could not survive without each other. They care for each others' needs and well-being (food, shelter, companionship, challenge, conversation, love, collective courage, and getting things done that one, two or three people cannot reasonably accomplish).

Recently, I thought wryly that my tribe is Jimmy's, the ice cream and burger place in the next township. There's also the Warren Glen Deli, also known as "The Emergency Ketchup Store". Also, there's the local pool. Reliable, always there. I go to these places because I enjoy them or I burnt dinner. Or, because my kid taught himself how to swim, and I could not bear a quiet mother-child trip to the river. I seek connections to other human beings. I pay for them - meals out, days at the pool. I see the owner of The Emergency Ketchup Store less than my spouse, child, and parents, but more than many of my friends.

I am troubled by this. I am exploring this loneliness of the modern age. I will be writing about this frequently. I have been working through this for the past few years. Evolving my thinking, working on myself, trying to put together community, looking to hop onto existing community trains, watching communities I have been in dissolve and change.

My frustration and loneliness never ebbed no matter what I did. "Maybe I should set something up on the calendar," I proposed to Jared. "You have your nights out, I'll have mine. Or, we take have potlucks every month." Nothing came together. "What if I'm tired, or busy, or it's raining, or sunny and I want to go swimming?" Putting another thing on the calendar seemed daunting. But, I still wondered if I should schedule something regular anyway. Maybe I should work harder.

 And, then I went to a home school park playdate with Beren. No one showed up, not for the playdate anyway.  Hundreds of Roman Catholic Polish pilgrims showed up - they used the park as resting spot. That's life, but Beren and I were discouraged each for our own reasons.

One of the keys is proximity. Real, physical proximity. Nothing takes its place. Proximity brings its own challenges and hard work. Getting along isn't easy or simple. Disagreements happen, but the entire tribe relies on harmony and humor.

Proximity is what made my childhood friendships easy. We lived in a neighborhood. The kids, all ages, got along. No one needed a car. No one had scheduled activities. In summer, only sunrise, sunset, and Ben's father's whistle that meant "dinnertime, so get home now" organized our time.

"Is Carrie home? Can she play?" I might wonder, and she showed up. We found Ben and Chris. We rode up and down the block on bikes and trikes.

I realize I am putting myself out there as one or all of the following:
Jaded
An *ss
Loser
Self-centered
Negative
Critical
Pathetic

I am ok with that because this lonely modern life is not for me. I can "work on my issues". I can figure out daily practices for self-improvement and balance. Still, this disjointed world I find myself in is here. This world where I bandage my loneliness by asking my husband and child to work harder at filling the gaps, to get along better. Or, we eat out or buy a shirt. Does anyone else notice how this is not working?

It is not working. There is another way. There must be.

Some of my lately resources for questioning:
Joe Rogan's interview with Henry Rollins - http://podcasts.joerogan.net/podcasts/henry-rollins
Chris Ryan's interview with Alisa Esposito of Sparkroot Farm https://chrisryanphd.com/tangentially-speaking/2017/8/7/262-alisa-esposito-sparkroot-farm

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Communities and Villages

My Village. My Village is too small.


Dear Family and Friends, I need you. I enjoy your company. When I see you and speak with you, you set my scrambled mind to rights. We laugh. We have fun. We cry. We heal each other. We argue. We resolve.

How can we build a village together?

I’ve been taking time to think about friendships, and I’ve felt distressed that everyone is so busy, including myself. I started off feeling upset and hurt, and my thoughts have evolved.

Why am I so busy? Why do I not have the closeness in relationships that I need? How did my Mom have two kids and do this? I have one, and I hardly can handle this? Sure, she was at home, not working outside the home. This is what my fellow working-outside-the-home-(or home business)-mothers say. Remembering back to the infant Beren days before I went back to work… those weren’t easy either. My friends who are 'not employed’ are having no easier a time, it seems.

I’ve realized that it’s not me. I’m not unlikeable or a unreliable friend. I’m not overly sensitive, or easily stressed and overwhelmed. The whole set up is at odds with our human needs for support. Everyone is scattered so far apart and is busy. Busy with what. Everything. Paying the bills. Keeping up. Busy with nothing it sometimes seems.

I’m not sure what this means for me, but I have put aside the vague word ‘community’.

I can drift from one community to the next…conservation community, homeschool community, farm community, and so on. Of course, there’s online community, which is so impossible to hold. It is not real. It is not a replacement for sitting with myself or with others. I am unsure any of these communities are really communities, but instead are loose assemblages of people with common interest. Among these communities, I find friends. Good people. People I love. People I want to see but don’t because. Because I am too busy? Busy doing what?

I can easily slip from one community to the next. I don’t really ‘need’ any one community. I trust members of those communities as friends, colleagues, resources, and inspiration. If any of those communities would choose to dismiss me, I would survive.

I would be lonely, more lonely than I am now. I would grieve the loss. But perhaps I could find other communities. I could find other friends. I would survive. I would find my food elsewhere. I can get my goods and services at any market. I already have shelter. I have my own emotionally over-burdened nuclear family to care for my needs of companionship and love, and luckily I have support from my parents.

My nuclear family…The only community I really ‘need’ is my nuclear family. Because I live with them. If one of them left the community, especially my husband, I’d be lost. That’s frightening to me. Without him, I might move back into my childhood bedroom with my son. I would have to figure out how to start again, to retool my whole system. It is unreasonable to ask so much of one person, he of me and me of him.

I am tossing out the word community. Community is no one, it is nowhere. It is especially no one and nowhere because we are all so far apart. We are so busy. Our communication is often mediated and indirect. Our contact is irregular.

I am village-building. I need a village. A village is a place. People inhabit a village. The village connected to the village’s surroundings, to the plants, the animals. A village has a gathering place. A village has challenges. Right now, my village-building is me thinking. Me, waving my hands around. I need a village.

With spirit,
Rachel

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Vitamin G, An Essential Part of Summer

"Oh, the candy shop used to be down there. The head shop used to be down there, too... Look, The Sawmill is still there. Still has the old sign... I rode these rides as a kid. I've been coming here for forty years, at least," I told Jared as we walked along the Seaside Heights boardwalk. "Do you think you know this place better than any other place in the world?" Jared asked. I smiled at the thought.


***

Friends, I have been meaning to write, but we are a third of the way through August. I have been living this week as though this is the last week of August. As though autumn is about here. As though autumn is in the air. As though I finally got over how depressed I was that our trip to Seaside Park was over way too fast.

Sh*t, summer, don't you like me? Don't you want to hang around a bit longer? Can I order in a non-climate-change-related September heatwave, maybe one in October, too?

***

Summer is about glitz. I have always liked surface glitz, real lowdown glitz. On our July trip to Seaside Park, you could find me a couple nights at Seaside Heights, walking the boardwalk, just watching people, soaking in Vitamin G(litz) from the few remaining old-fashioned light bulbs that illuminate the tattoos, the bellies, the postures, and the bad-ass attitudes. I would have been there every night if I didn't have a kid to pass out next to. I would have dragged my husband there every night if he would have followed.

I have always liked loud buzz, real lowdown buzz. So, last week you would have found me happily watching several hours of the Mud Bog competition at the Warren County Farmers Fair. Happily, unironically, enjoying the trucks, the noise, the stink, and wishing the crowd was more excited.






I have always liked the combination of buzz, glitz, crowds, at least as long as I could make the choice. So, this week you can find me at Musikfest, watching the tattoos and haircuts, the propane tank pumpkin art and bonsai, the zip line, the cops, and the drunks. I could wander all night. I could.

Friends, why have you not been at Musikfest in Bethlehem with me this week? There is still time. It ends this Sunday.

Friends, are you getting your Vitamin G(litz)? Summer will end sometime, climate change or not. And as you know, harvest festivals and wine tastings of autumn have absolutely no Vitamin G. In fact, they have been clinically proven to reduce your body's Vitamin G stores to winter levels.













Saturday, August 5, 2017

Man Dreams

I had what Jared and I called Man Dreams last night. Violent, chaotic. Bloody, frightening. 

Do you have Man Dreams?