Last November I returned to the states for a rare, unhurried week with my mom’s side of the family. Though the circumstances surrounding my trip were somber and the fact of my grandmother’s passing surreal, our time together was sweet as Mema’s plum preserves – I got to know my family a little deeper.
One 22-year-old cousin took a particular interest in our Mexico experience. Maybe – just maybe – she would convince her dad to let her come down for a visit. “Yea, right,” I thought, fully aware of my uncle’s stubborn stance against this death-wish of an idea.
A few days after returning south, however, I received an email from Lexi. Not only was she coming to visit, but she was bringing Chloe, her 21-year-old sister, and staying for three and a half months!
First of all, anyone who steps out of their comfort zone, instigates an impromptu semester abroad and buys their tickets on a whim meets my minimum criteria for pretty awesome. But for two (bright, charming, talented, attractive) young ladies to ignore the forewarnings of the fearful and head south despite all misguided, media-molested Mexico malarky? That takes some serious ovarian gonads.
Their time here came to an end just yesterday (though I suspect they’ll be back before too long). I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we had. The kind of fun some people go for years without experiencing because they’ve either forgotten it was possible or they’ve told themselves some bullshit about being too busy or they’ve become accustomed to taking life real seriously (been there, done all three). The kind of fun amplified by a stepping out of the ordinary, a letting go of expectations and a willingness to be vulnerable to whatever life has to hand you (from private surf instruction to public village shit holes). The kind of fun accompanied by utter contentment, a total lack of want and fits of laughter more therapeutic than all the finest counsel combined.
So naturally, I’ve given a good deal of thought to what it is that encourages such rich and pleasant living. Are my cousins really just that awesome? Well, yes, actually they are, but that doesn’t explain the incredible weeks and months we’ve spent with other long-term house guests during our time here (there have been many).
I think the answer is just about as basic as being born…we are creatures created to live in community. While I could write a book on this singular subject (and I just might), for now it seems most important to share my recent experience of communal living (when did this beautiful term acquire a negative connotation?), while it’s still fresh on my mind and has hold of my heart.
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.