Archive for May, 2011

And then there were two

It’s been a week since our last post and in that time a lot has changed. A week ago Mirra told us that she was torn between wanting to go on our trip and wanting to focus her attentions on music and dance. She finally decided that while the communitywalkabout project was very interesting to her, if she didn’t pursue music and dance she wouldn’t be as happy. She is moving to New York and is very excited about the possibilities there.

I guess my reaction to this all is mixed. I am very sad that Mirra isn’t going to be joining us. She added a lot to the project, with her excitement and creativity, her friendliness and her charisma. I think two people is harder than three because it’s so much more intense spending so much time with only other person. But I am glad that she chose what she did, because I want her to be happy and it was getting difficult for us because we felt like she didn’t want to be part of the project. Now that we know she isn’t going we can move on and try to get everything moving again. Even without Mirra I’m excited about our project and I think it’s going to be amazing and successful. I love Alex and I have a wonderful relationship with him and I think it’s strong enough to endure whatever the road throws at us.

Dealing with the issues around Mirra leaving really took our energy away from the project, but we’re starting to pick up steam again. I’ve started working, a wonderful job at a health food store, and Alex and I are getting to have normal schedules. I think we’re quickly going to be able to have a routine that supports our project and that we’re going to be able to work on it and with it even more than ever.

Meanwhile, there’s a wonderful summer to enjoy here. I forgot how beautiful it is here and I’m enjoying it so much; the weather has been nice and I’ve been biking to work along a wonderful bike trail that takes me almost all of the way there. I’m excited about the future but I’m also more than happy about the present.

new york

We came here Sunday for a birthday party and to see my family, John, Jane, Lauden and Andrew. It has been amazing, the party was awesome! There where all these brazilian dancers and Capoeira ass kickers who played for us.

It is so amazing to be around all these guys again, I always forget how much I miss people until I get next to them. As I am writing this I am in the kitchen with Gwendolyn, Mirra and Andrew, we are all hanging out and talking about what ever, it dosnt matter, just that we are all together. Andrew goes off on a rant once in while, and I feel so happy to be around him again.

I was thinking, what is it about this city that attracts so many people? is it just because its NEW YORK, or is there something else, some attitude, or world view that makes this place one of the worlds hottest cities.

Anyways, it has been fun and I hope to come back some time. But I cant think about next time right now, I need to focus on getting back into some sort of rhythm on the cape.

Alex

things about last week

Gwendolyn and i got a job! we’ll be working together at a health food store Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and taking turns on Sundays. nine hours a day. pretty sweeet i think.  so, that’s a load off. i don’t have to be getting gray hairs over getting a job any more. out of all the jobs i applied for this is the one i actually wanted.

last Sunday at David’s flat we had a get-together of all us Ionians out here on the East cost. Bill Johnson, one of the founders of Ionia and the father of some of my best friends, showed up. i was making a mess of food with some other people in the kitchen, when he came in; i was so happy to see him i practically leaped over the table to hug him. it was so great to see a familiar face from Ionia. we had a nice conversation and later we played music together until he had to leave. at Ionia there were many nights where lots of people would play music and rotate instruments and jam the night away. almost always Bill was there and i always felt he was a key piece to the flow of how the music progressed and wound its way around. i don’t know if it’s like this for everyone or if it’s just like this to me but it is always easier to make music when jamming with Bill.  i love the social, creative and communicative aspects of music (as i do in dance,) rather than the performance aspects of it and i think perhaps  Bill has the same preference.

there are so many fabulous places around here to go walking and forging. there are old herring runs and cranberry bogs that are all overgrown and bursting with bright green foliage. there are man-made streams with moss covered, concrete water blocks and dams. there are  square ponds that you don’t notice are square at first because they are so over taken by fallen trees and young trees and ferns and flowers and watercress. Gwendolyn showed me a beautiful place with little foot paths threw the woods that wound around and over little hills that led us always back to the mossy watery herring runs and cranberry bogs.

mirra

Yesterday, at the beach

I just made breakfast and took Alex to work. Mirra and John, Alex’s eldest brother, are sleeping upstairs and I’m talking to Connor, Alex’s younger brother- who’s in India right now- on Facebook.  Last night we made dinner at David’s- Alex’s uncle- apartment, with John- who is visiting for a few days- Alex’s sister, Jane, Alex’s uncle, Josie, David, Bill, one of the Ionian elders, who is on the Cape visiting his parents, and his daughter, Erin, and some other friends.

It was pretty awesome; David gave us his credit card and Mirra and I went to the grocery store and loaded our cart with tons of vegetables (for us, special treats are expensive fruits and vegetables; I love being macrobiotic) and four of us cooked, all making different dishes. I made guacamole and strawberry sauce for dessert (over coconut ice cream). It was a little annoying because David, who doesn’t want to think of himself settling in his apartment hasn’t gotten any good cooking things and so we didn’t have enough knives or bowls or pots or anything, really. Mirra and I took turns using a knife, which didn’t really work, since all either of us had to do was cut things.

And then David and his crew- they’re working on getting the yacht he’s captain of ship-shape- came trouping in, with Bill and Erin and Brian, one of Jane’s friends- and we ate enormous amounts of burritos with seitan and salad and beans a guacamole and colored peppers, and then we lay around, playing music and talking and it was wonderful, seeing all these people, especially Bill, because I didn’t think of missing him, because I didn’t think of missing the Ionians who aren’t my particular friends or people I hung out with, but I realize that I do, that everyone there were part of the tapestry of my life and one strand missing changes the whole pattern.

Our whole yesterday was great; waking up with Alex, and making and having breakfast with him- no matter how much time I spend with him I never get sick of him, which is possibly the highest compliment I could give someone (and something I realized when we were living in the Eller house at Ionia and spending all our time together), then going and picking John and Mirra up (they’d stayed out late drinking and slept over at David’s, which is in town), then we went to the beach, and then home for lunch, then watercressing, then to David’s to cook dinner.

“I had the best day, today,” John told everyone.

I have the best life, because every day is like that. Cooking, gardening, cleaning, picking wild foods for our meals (more about that later), planning our trip, playing music, in this beautiful, beautiful place. Every morning I wake up in the arms of people I love, and every night I go to sleep knowing I’m loved and it seems surreal because life isn’t supposed to be this good. Even the hard things are good. I’m sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Inspiration, Money and Falmouth.

Look at that handsome man! But pay no attention to my eyes, the light caught them in a weird way.

We are finally all together in Falmouth, well actually we’ve been all together for a week, but I don’t write as much as I would like. I got a job the day Gwendolyn got here, so I been busy and haven’t had the time.

Anyhoop, we’ve been having trouble finding the inspiration to work on Community Walkabout. It has been rough because I am working all day, and when I get off I am just too tired to focus on much of anything. And, even more disrupting than that, we’ve been separated for a month and are all going through some personal stuff, which makes our collective weaker.  But we are pushing through, and are starting to find some inspiration.

We talked a few days ago about how we are going to raise the money to do this thing.  We decided we didn’t want to get full time jobs and grin and bare it and drudge through. So we are going to get part time jobs, and maybe do some things like sell baked goods (Gwendolyn is a fabulous baker), sell good heart healthy lunches, give guitar lessons (Mirra); we want to stick to our skills. Like a wise man once said “girls only like guys with sweet skills”.

It just seemed so stupid too get full time jobs and work super hard, stress out and be kinda miserable, when we are raising money to investigate and live alternatives to that. Lets just start now, we have our community, we have the want– what else do you need? I say nothing.

Falmouth is a small, cute and New Englandy town, with not very much going on in it. There is a good live music scene supposedly, so that will be fun. There will be a lot more people here after Memorial day weekend, when everyone comes here for the summer. It probably won’t affect us very much because we hang out in the house alot. We can’t afford to go out much; we need to save every penny. So we’ve been cooking alot, gardening, getting use to our new home and house which is also small, cute and New Englandy like.

Alex

Coming Home

A week into my FEMA deployment I decided I had had enough. There’s no point in being miserable. So I came home.

My emotions vacillated. I was happy I was coming home, sad I was leaving Alabama. Excited to see Alex and Mirra, nervous about what we had ahead of us; finding jobs, getting organized, settling into the business of living.

I arrived in Boston Sunday night (my plane had been delayed for over two hours for unexplained reasons) to find Mirra and my mom waiting for me. Then the long drive from Boston to Falmouth (69 miles, I have reason to know). And I got out of the car, got my luggage and was trying to force my suitcase through the door when Alex pounced on me. Really, he could have better timing.

I guess I’d been really nervous and excited about seeing him- we’d been such good friends and roommates in Ionia, but I hadn’t seen him in four weeks and even though we’d talked on the phone, our conversations had been stilted and awkward, you know how they are when you want to talk to someone but can’t think of anything to say. But when we saw each other it was just… perfect. I’d missed having him around so much.

And now we’re here. We’re still trying to put ourselves back together. Our separation knocked our project to pieces more than we expected, and we’re so busy trying to find jobs, and working (Alex started work on Monday- he’s a painter’s assistant), gardening, straightening things out and, of course, cooking, that we’ve had no time for communitywalkabout, which is the reason we’re all together, after all. Finally, last night, we looked online at communities– we found an awesome Quaker one in New York State that looked really cool and really welcoming– and I think that sparked us a little bit.

I’m not sure we can have full-time jobs and still do they work we need to do on communitywalkabout. I think we’re going to discover that soon. If it came down to making a choice, I know what we would choose.

We’re planning on starting a kick-starter campaign, but the problem is we don’t know how to do videos, so if anyone knows and would like to help us, we’d really appreciate it.

-Gwendolyn

Our room; Alex's chest, my grandfather's flag and Mirra's guitar-in the laundry basket

A Room Without a View

I began today– the days have been very slow here for us; the process is going very smoothly for the people in this small town and so they don’t need us that much right now. But who knows what tomorrow or this weekend will look like? Running a disaster recovery is a bit of a disaster.

But I degress. Today’s slowness has afforded me time to get some music for my ukulele. I got several songs, chords and lyrics to practice and try to play. I haven’t played it much because I am a failure at tuning by ear, but I shall try to use the tuning website– ‘the seventh string’ or something like that– and though I am not a very good player, there is something very calming about practicing.

I degress again. One of the songs I got was ‘In Love With a View’ by Mojave 3. I’m not overfond of the artist, but I love the song. Writing it down made me want to listen to it and listening to it (on my iPod, Sunshine) made me want to read ‘A Room With a View,’ which is fantastically available for free reading or download from Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org), an online library of thousand of post-copyright works.

So I spent the rest of my free time today reading the book. ‘A Room With a View’ is a novel written in 1909 by the amazing author, E. M. Forster. He only wrote five or so books, all of them incredible, though some ended in tragedy. He lived in India, and in Persia (or Turkey?), set two of his books at least partially in Italy, and was gay, which wasn’t easy in 1900’s England, back when men were jailed for sodemy. Oscar Wilde, for one, was in jail for gayness for a while and died a few years later, according to an account I once read of him, of lonliness. Besides the legal implications, men were taught that homosexuality was immoral and sinful and unpatriotic. He encapsulates his experience as a gay Victorian English man wonderfully in his post-humusly published novel ‘Maurice’.

I degress again. ‘A Room With a View’  is spectacular. The writing is amazing, but even more the characterization is amazing. It was written over a hundred years ago and yet it is incredibly identifiable. The main character is dealing with a coming to consciousness– her attempts to do what everyone wants her to do fail when she falls in love with the wrong person and only when someone else tells her that she needs the love more than she needs to be what everyone wants does she admit it. How understandable that is; we are such herd animals, following others about, looking to them for advice, for understanding, for company, and for identity. And that is not wrong. Forster doesn’t suggest that we should abandon all human things; he mocks one of the characters for claiming egalitarianism but turning his nose up at common people. What he criticizes is allowing ourselves to follow others instead of following our own hearts.

I have never been one for following the herd, not out of some criticizm of it, or some ideal of being an individual, but out of a sheer incapactity to understand what other people were doing. Fitting in has never been my forte and now I feel blest at that, not because I scorn those who do follow the norm, but because I have tried and failed and now can see that I was not formed for it, if I was formed by anything but random chance. I scorn no one; they all have their place in this world. But finding mine seems to have been a little harder.

And so I sympathize with the protaginist, Lucy. She acted as a tennis ball, hit back and forth between the various factors in her life; when she chose it was only by whim or what others would think.

In movies and books, people often come to epipanies; they’re the turning point of the story; suddenly the main character realizes something and after that nothing is the same. In reality, our minds are like stone; they must be, slowly, worn away. The eternal action of a river of change is what created new valleys, not usually sudden dramatic moments. It is a lot harder, a lot more boring. But how often have you had an epiphany and the next day everything in your life continues to be exactly the same?

I don’t expect this to be the last of them. Like so many other things in my life, change comes slowly. I changed my diet slowly; I cannot recognize how it was before, but it didn’t happen all of a sudden. So will I change my ideas about my life. It is easy to sink into normal dreams; career, husband, children, house. But I can see the despair that lies in that for me. The despair I feel right now about not being with my community– Alex and Mirra are, for now, my little community– is the despair of not being where I am supposed to be.

‘A room with a view,’ in the book, ends up being a place you can move in and a place you can’t see out of. The incapactity to change or to realize. The wrong choice is a room without a view. For most people my life would be completely wrong. For me, doing what I’m doing, right now, is.