Lonely in a Crowd
I have ridiculously high social needs, although I don’t think most people would guess it upon meeting me. Being surrounded by people 24 hours a day was my primary reason for moving to Twin Oaks. And while I can honestly say that my social wellbeing has improved by moving here, I’ve found that it can be a surprisingly isolating place.
For one, the population here ebbs and flows. While we’re in many ways like a village, we totally lack the stability of one. This spring and summer have been pretty brutal for me in this regard: two people left whom I felt super-comfortable around (particularly, being loud and ridiculous around). And there wasn’t even much warning. People up and decide to go pretty quickly. Add to this the usual ways that social dynamics get mixed up (relationship changes, mood changes, work stress, etc), and it’s kind of a recipe for chaos.
Secondly, most people already have routines. Other than meals, there’s no real guaranteed social space — no, like, “living room” of the commune. This drives me crazy, so I try to invent these spaces, with some success: I host happy hour once a week, push for post-happy-hour as the norm, try to make a Sunday morning social/study/coffee time happen, and always keep my door open so that my room can be a default social space. But many days (many weeks!) I wake up, milk some cows, work in the tofu hut, eat some quick meals, and go to sleep without having had one substantive conversation. A lot of the work here is solo work, and a lot of people have evening routines/dates/etc.
I wouldn’t say I’m bummed out about it all the time: when things are going well here, they go really well. I like to let social patterns come and go without getting super-attached, but damn, it was really fun when people would pile into my room every day to talk, when happy hours in TCLR always lasted hours and hours after dinner, when everyone’s relationships were stable, when it seemed like there were infinite romantic possibilities.
It’s been a surprisingly morose summer from my perspective. I hope it’s a bangin’ fall.
PS: I think everything would be much better if we had a hip little cafe on the farm with free or cheap coffee (doubly better if the wifi was disabled everywhere but there). I’d be happy to be the TO barista. Eh? Eh? A person can dream.