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.