I was born in a small town

When I was thinking of moving into cohousing I wanted to have a podcast and blog to share the experience – the ups and downs.  Now that dream has come true. I actually started both when I lived there but re-did the podcast and am now getting some listeners, and more importantly, people to interview.

In the process, I have tried to listen to every podcast I can find on cohousing.  I have been listening to them all this week and it’s bringing me down. They all sound wonderful, I want to move in. Everyone is going to be friends and garden together and take care of each other. Who wouldn’t want that?  The devil is in the details.

One common theme I hear is of people reminiscing of growing up in a small town where everyone knows each other. I grew up in a suburb and we knew most of the neighbors. But our neighborhood housed dysfunctional people. A creepy husband who said strange things, especially to me as a teen girl. The divorcing couple up the street who we could hear yell at each other and I swore I heard dishes breaking in one such fight.  And the worse were the boys around the corner who threw rocks, threw insults, and did even worse crimes against the other children.  But my best friend a few blocks north had such a wonderful neighborhood. They had block parties. The boys next door were super creative and made their own haunted houses and one time built a village out of sticks and then invited all the kids over to watch them burn it down with mini fire cannons.  That’s what I envisioned in doing in a modern safe way at cohousing!

And I did live in a small town and honestly, it freaked me out.  I was from the big city and some of my ideals made if feel like I had moved to another country. They knew each other’s name but worse, every detail about each other.  One time one woman said, casually, that another woman’s husband was shooting blanks. I was shocked. How would you know that? Why would you share that?  I still wonder what they did or didn’t find out about me and are talking about in oversharing ways.

So, when I hear these podcasts I want to scream!  I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. I believe in dreaming big. I know it can work. Yet, people are people. Be realistic. And be honest. It won’t be all sunshine and find ways to communicate and work together and do everything you can to make it that supportive group you want.  Don’t let it become a place where you just live and look for community elsewhere.  

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, group think and cults, marketing in cohousing, moving in and out of cohousing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to I was born in a small town

  1. Flower says:

    “They knew each other’s name but worse, every detail about each other. One time one woman said, casually, that another woman’s husband was shooting blanks. I was shocked. How would you know that? Why would you share that? I still wonder what they did or didn’t find out about me and are talking about in oversharing ways.”

    YIKES!!! I would detest that type of environment. I actually wouldn’t want to know details like that or have anything to do with the oversharing. A lot of people behave in inappropriate ways, asking intrusive questions under the guise of friendship when it is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS and there is nothing remotely friendly about their questions.

    I came from a big city too and lived in a small town, but I was there mainly for college so I wasn’t subjected to that type of ugly gossip and everyone up in your business. It would feel violating and invasive. I did work part-time at the college and those environments can also function like small communities with the same type of gossip and oversharing. GROSS!

    One of my previous neighbors very casually and out-of-the-blue told me about all of the cheating spouses that lived down the street. I was blissfully unaware of the goings on. She said that it was mainly people who lived in a couple of corner houses. They all wound up divorced, selling the homes and one husband who hooked up with a teacher down the street still resides in the hood, although I never see him The other people moved away or out of state. I was actually rather sad to hear of it. It’s not the type of thing that I want to know about and I really don’t know why she felt so compelled to tell me. She was single and everyone told her everything. I’m actually pretty happy to be left out of the loop.

  2. CJ says:

    That is another issue – what if someone tells you information about others and you never wanted to know? I like to get to know people as they are – not what others say about them.

    • Flower says:

      I’ve been in this situation many times–people tell me all kinds of things and most of it I don’t want to know. If there was a crime, robberies or a situation like that, then yes I’d want to know, but I dislike too much personal information. I don’t like it when people take liberties or try to rush relationships and I mean getting interpersonal too quickly. That feels invasive.

      I also was invited to a party and the hosts were “purported” friends. I met the wife’s friend who when I met her alone later expressed that I wasn’t the person that they made me out to be at all. She then questioned if they ever asked me a question or knew me at all. They had gossiped about me giving her info which was inaccurate and basically trying to influence her–asking her to prejudge me without bothering to get to know me at all. Needless to say they lost the friendship of two different couples.

  3. Flower says:

    “I grew up in a suburb and we knew most of the neighbors. But our neighborhood housed dysfunctional people. A creepy husband who said strange things, especially to me as a teen girl. The divorcing couple up the street who we could hear yell at each other and I swore I heard dishes breaking in one such fight.”

    I lived in the same type of suburb and same type of scenario–creepy husband who made strange and inappropriate comments. It was the same type of situation, except the breaking dishes.

    “And the worse were the boys around the corner who threw rocks, threw insults, and did even worse crimes against the other children.”

    The boys down the street would throw oranges. Getting hit by one hurt! I got clobbered by one right in the eye. They also caused other problems and were aggressive and bullying.

    “But my best friend a few blocks north had such a wonderful neighborhood. They had block parties.”

    I’d heard of block parties, but they never happened in my neighborhood. There were a lot of drugs, which some people might find odd for “surf culture” given it’s image. I tried to tell one of my friends there image didn’t fit with reality. They are older than me, live in another country and love the old Beach Boys songs. I think a lot of people get an idea in their head about places based on movies or songs.

  4. CJ says:

    Sad that we have similar experiences. That’s why I think cohousing is living in dream land – nostalgia about the past. Maybe letting kids run around all the time isn’t always a great idea – depends on the kids and their behavior. And Surf Culture, I hadn’t thought about that. It is seen as pure and sweet but I heard of turf wars. There was an article a few years back of an actor, I think Matthewc McConaughey having to break up a fight. No one thinks of the Beach Boys and gang culture but apparently that’s the reality for some surfers.

    • Flower says:

      I agree with you about cohousing and nostalgia about the past. That’s what they’re selling even if they don’t admit to it.

      As far as surf culture goes…my friend, like many people have this idea about Southern California and the easy going lifestyle that’s depicted in songs and movies. He used to listen to The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean sing about it–the beautiful girls and boys, the surf, the sand, the sun and the fun. Like many people he had a fantasy and wanted to move there. I grew up there and my reality of the version of the Huntington Beach surf culture was far from what they sang about-everyone smiling, everyone friendly and no one had a care in the world. I left “surf city” years ago. I wanted to move and get away from it. The hippie culture ushered in rampant drug use and beach cities were a mecca for serial killers and rapists who were using the beaches as hunting grounds along with the skinheads, biker gangs and clueless runaways and all of the drugs. I encountered a lot of corruption and met more gritty predatory people seeking to take advantage than I did those who were fun, let alone decent. It’s just how it was. So my summer-in-the-fun is a mix of memories for me.

      There’s something pure, beautiful and true about the ocean and I had to eventually move away to find that and hold it close. Then I left the dream of California.

      Apparently there’s a genre called surf noir, although I’ve never read it, but I do recall seeing articles reviewing the work of a specific author known for it. It only peaked my interest because I grew up there. I used to wonder if anyone would ever depict how it really was for a lot of people who grew up there.

  5. CJ says:

    I’ll have to look that up – surf noir. I know I watched a movie set in Santa Cruz about a real surfer. I think it was called Chasing Mavericks. It showed that the young man came from a tough home life.

    • Flower says:

      That guy died and he was 22 years old. I know about the Mavericks location just north of Half Moon Bay–a beautiful name for a town. There was a contest too. I don’t watch those types of movies, because I don’t care to revisit the past and it would trigger memories of the repellent behaviors of people that I unfortunately encountered during that time in my life. Bittersweet memories are not always easy to navigate given loss. It’s no longer fresh pain because you move on with your life, but the residue of your existence still resides in your heart. It’s freeing to say that.

      I can sometimes get into a very sour mood thinking about people in my life and how I experienced them. The only place I found any respite was seeking a therapist where privately I could talk openly and freely without concern about reprisals, denials or twisting my words and spitting them back in my face. People pay lip service to wanting “honesty” but given my experiences I feel that the people who make such comments are the ones who live with the biggest lies.

  6. CJ says:

    The movie was quite confusing about his life and how it ended. I had to google it. Yes, honesty is good in a safe environment.

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