In my ideal world, we all could hang out and talk and eat and go for hikes and raise our children together and celebrate every major holiday. I recognize this is the gist of a commune. In fact, I've researched a couple communes - one based on shared birthing philosophies (which would deteriorate after menopause, presumably); one based on religion. If they weren't located in awkward states like Florida and Indiana, I believe I would have already joined.
My husband has a paying job in Las Vegas, Nevada, so here we are. I am unaware of any registered communes in Las Vegas, but what we have in our neighborhood is sort of a "junior" commune. Eight families who know each other well, moved here on purpose, help each other out with the kids and occasionally gather for dinner. In order to become a "full-fledged" commune, I think all we need are more guitars, longer hair on the men, and a couple of Volkswagen buses. In the commune of my imagining, someone else cooks and I do the dishes. I never have to cook. Occasionally, I'll bake, but it's never my turn to make dinner. Oh, and we all have lots of time to spend time together because, presumably, someone is independently wealthy and has financed our endless free time to play guitar, grow hair, and insure the Volkswagens.
In real life, we have to pay the bills, maintain the houses, and go to soccer games. There are events to attend, errands to do, TV shows to watch, classes at the gym. And while I have no problem with any of these things on their own, once you pile them all together, you have exactly NO time to commune! Now I'm using commune as a verb instead of a noun. If you prefer, use the term "hang out" or, as I once heard in a book called Reclaiming Friendship, by Ajith Fernando, "linger." Mr. Fernando said we don't know how to linger, and I agree with him. We can't stick around to just "be" with each other when the to-do list calls.
I don't know how to remedy this. Even if I resolve to linger more at friends' houses, I'm not sure how they'll take it. What's the balance between lingering for the sake of deepening our friendships and wearing out our welcome? Lately I am very drawn to the friendships that are "easy." We get along, our kids get along, there is no shortage of conversation topics, and I can even wear my slippers or pajama pants around them and it's okay. One of my new year's resolutions is, in essence, to "visit" people more. A great visit happened today when some friends of ours came over after church and stayed through lunch (which they brought) and dinner (which we provided). We sat and talked and ate a couple times and even prayed together. There was a lot of laughing and the kids kept busy and happy as well. I think even without the guitars, long hair, and Volkswagens, we're on to something. Lord, help me cultivate this in 2012.