Let’s Say Screw It and Start a Commune

by Kari Anne Roy
Originally Published: 
An old camper with a lot of drawings on it.

When I say the word commune, a lot of things probably come to mind: drugs, free love, a giant kitchen filled with vats of stew, zillions of partially clothed barefoot children running aimlessly, zillions of partially clothed barefoot adults running aimlessly, crowns made of flowers, peace, love, stockpiled automatic rifles…. I mean, there are a lot of images conjured.

But let’s think about it for a minute. Really think about it.

A commune.

Say you have grand visions of getting the fuck away from science projects and the constant rotation of baked chicken and crockpot ribs that flavor your life. Say you get six or seven of your family’s best-friend-families and you all decide to throw some blazing middle fingers at modern social constructs. Say you pitch in some cash. Say you find an old farm or, more likely, a boarded up ’80s era shopping mall. How would you make it work? What would you need? Could your family of five live in an old Benetton? Could you bend the former food court to your organic will?

Yeah. Yeah, I bet you could. The trick, though, will be finding enough space for everyone. Because even though you’ve agreed to live in a commune, you have not agreed to be on top of each other (unless that’s your jam, in which case, enjoy your sexy sexy commune).

You’re gonna need a space for each family, a space for all the kids, a space for the grown-ups to hang out, a space for the bevy of nannies you will undoubtedly hire so that you can enjoy the space just for grown-ups, a space for school because your kids are all geniuses and while the modern school system is fucking that up, your commune will nurture and celebrate each and every unique brain wave (so long as that nurturing and celebrating happens in a self-contained area that does not require parental observation during the hours of 8 am and 5 pm because: JOBS).

That’s another thing. Jobs. You will probably still have to have some of those to keep the commune running. Someone is going to have to pay the electric bill for the Sbarro-cum-gluten free kitchen. This will be a thing you can work out beforehand, of course. Possibly you will be able to sell the children’s artwork, or create some manga out of their fugue-state after-school stories, and sell these things to the hipsters who live downtown. Possibly someone will have to actually work in a building somewhere. You can figure it out.

Other decisions to make about the commune include free love: yes or no, and cultivating pot: yes or no. A group garden will have to be planted because group gardens are part of the Commune Bylaws of 1964. But don’t worry, you can grow whatever you want (except pot if you’ve voted against it, though let’s be real.)

You cannot grow Trader Joe’s salted chocolate almonds or boutique grapefruit vodka in your garden, so provisions will have to be made. You could probably work on creating some approximation of these things, but whether or not any of you are industrious enough to attempt that is, again, up to the group to decide.

Before ANY of these nitty-gritty decisions are made, though, you are all going to have to get together to hammer out big details. (You know, like where in town you all want to live, how much money you actually have, the tax savings of possibly trying to turn the whole thing into a church of some sort, etc.)

This is going to require finding a time when all seven families can meet, which is going to require Herculean feats of scheduling not unlike trying to call up Mars and Uranus to see when they can align with Mercury and Venus, and why is Earth always so busy on Tuesdays, and who does Neptune think he is anyway, that we always have to go to HIM because he’s so far away.

Once the planets are aligned, planning can begin in earnest.

It’s going to be so fun all living in one place! No HOA fees, no PTA meetings, just friends and kids and the ghost smells of Wok and Rolls from years past. All you have to do is get together for that first meeting. Just mesh those schedules so you can…

Oh, fuck it. Maybe you can just rent some duplexes on the same block? Same difference, right? You can call it Commune 2.0 and write an online manifesto about the freedom to leave your trash cans out as many days in a row as you want, because friends are super tolerant about things like that. You can still run around naked and barefoot. You can even still have a giant group garden, and vats of stew. Or at least have a catering account with the closest burrito place.

It seems doable. Yeah?


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