community thoughts/report

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

A lot of people were surprised when I moved in with my friends, Erik and Sarah and their two boys and one Dog of Amazingness, Frank.  People wondered if I was having some sort of strenuous financial trouble.  People worried aloud about whether I could be sure that what I was doing was wise – that it wouldn’t ruin a treasured friendship.  People encouraged me to hang on to my deposit, so that if I needed to make a quick escape, money wouldn’t be a hurdle. 

I wasn’t worried about it for me.  I had lived in community at JPUSA for 9 months, in all of its highly imperfect, often frustrating, frequently grimy, absolutely wonderful glory.   Heck, this would be MORE privacy than I had at JPUSA.  There, I had a roommate who was someone I had never met before in my life and had not chosen for myself, and that had come out fine (not perfect, mind you, but fine). 

I wasn’t worried about it for them.  They are the sort who are always taking someone in.  The room I would be occupying had already been occupied by a series of others.  Erik and Sarah knew what there is to know about letting someone extra live in one’s home.  And furthermore, I had lived with them for my final month in the area back in 2010, before I moved off to JPUSA.  So they already knew what kind of roomie I am, including all of my messiness. 

A lot of people were even more uneasy when they learned that when Gary and I were married, thee was no plan for our own place – that Gary would marry me and then just move in with me to the room I already occupied.  People made pleas for privacy.  People insisted, “You HAVE to have your own place!”  People worried. 

I wasn’t worried about it for Gary.  He had lived at JPUSA for 8 years, and had a number of roommates along the way.  Gary knows how to share space and how to get along with others.  Actually, since we couldn’t know ahead how long it might take him to find a job, I felt like living with friends was the best possible choice.  I know how lonely it was for me to move into an apartment by myself when I returned here after 9 months at JPUSA, and it seemed to me that could only be multiplied for Gary after having been there so much longer.  If he was going to spend days, maybe weeks, maybe even MONTHS at home without work, I didn’t want him to be in an empty place.  I wanted there to be other people around for him while I was gone to work. 

It happened that the Lord supplied him a job so quickly that my “Gary home alone” worry was unfounded.  Still, he is glad to live with friends, glad to enjoy the kids, tickled to play with the dog, pleased as punch to have opportunity to bless our friends with little acts of service where he sees the possibility. 

My original reason for asking Erik and Sarah if I could move in with them WAS financial – I was not “in trouble,” but I did want to expedite the paying down of my bills.  But within days of having made the decision, I realized that I didn’t even care about the money part – I was just so thrilled that I wouldn’t be living alone anymore.  I hadn’t known how tired I was of living alone until the prospect of it ending appeared. 

We have left the arrangement wide open.  Maybe it will be a very long-term thing, this little “mini community” that is Gary and Karen and Erik and Sarah and family.  Maybe it will just be a transitional thing.  Our stuff is in storage, so that if we choose to get our own place, we are not starting from scratch.  Everyone involved is prepared not to be offended, should that happen.

But I gotta say, in the meanwhile:  I STILL LOVE IT, even as a married person.

I love shared meals with our friends.  From the company for conversation, to the fun of showing up to dinner already made, no thanks to any effort from myself, to getting to be a blessing for cleanup afterward – love it all.

I love the sounds of the boys upstairs every morning while I am getting ready for my day.

I love only going up half a dozen steps to get to Bible study each week.

I love the room we live in.

I love that Gary gets to enjoy a dog without me having to own a dog.  (I’m kind of *over* the pet phase of my life, and I don’t think he ever will be, so it’s a great setup for all involved, especially Frank, who adores my G.) 

I love the convenience of non-coin laundry just down the hall.

I love the quiet of our neighborhood.

I love that the back yard is available to us.  Apartment dwelling doesn’t tend to provide good yard space.

I love knowing everyone within the walls where I live (apartment neighbors have consistently been strangers to me, thanks to my antisocial tendency to not try and ever know them.) 

I love the available backup – we can all help each other get places or get stuff done or whatever, as needed (though we haven’t utilized that much yet, we are all ready and willing.)

I love that living with friends means they know specific things to pray for us, and us for them, without having to do big drawn-out explanations. 

I love that Erik and Sarah are so very laid back about our whereabouts.  They don’t get offended when we are not home very much.  They don’t get their feelings hurt when we retreat to our room a lot, as newlyweds are bound to do. 

I love the shower there.  It’s like a work of art. 

So, will we stay forever?  Who knows.  I also sometimes long for my very own kitchen, where I could buy $100 worth of groceries and do my own Karenish things without disrupting the system.  I occasionally feel really hemmed in by how much stuff we have stuffed into the room where we live.  Once in awhile it crosses my mind that I could run from the shower to our room naked, if it was our own place.  Just little stuff like that.  I have ZERO major concerns.  It’s just the little things that make me wonder whether somewhere along the line, we might eventually want to try having our own place.

But even when I wonder, I don’t think, “next month” or even, “later this year.”  I just think “maybe someday.”  It’s not a wistful thing.  I don’t feel deprived really in any way. 

For this season, this little community-ish way we are living, it is perfect.  Nope, better than perfect:  just right.   

  1. Cala says:

    Karen, loved this. We are currently living ‘in community’ with my parents as we adjust to Dan’s new career path. Very encouraging post!

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