Now that I signed the papers yesterday to sell my house to some new owners, I thought I would put together a timeline of my life with cohousing.
2011 – A local group did a presentation at the library about cohousing. Many people were there. I signed up right away and went to some of the potlucks but I saw it would take awhile, and a lot of money I didn’t have, so I left the group to wait.
2017 – I went back to the group. I knew my life was about to change. The little community I had with my sister around the corner (her kids were grown and moved away so I knew she’d leave soon – she just got her own house near a beach this year), and my mother down the street had terminal cancer. I was hoping she’d live a few more years but she knew it wasn’t long.
At the meeting I could see they were still a bit away and they said there was a cohousing actually building near by – the same distance away from the job I loved. I called them up.
January 2, 2018 – I went to the common meal of the cohousing group near by that had started moving dirt around for construction. I joined as a member.
2018- I went to the monthly plenary meetings and a common meal once a month. They met weekly for common meals but it was too far for me. I joined the community life (fun) committee and we all made policies on pets and how we imagined we would run the place.
(my mother died in May)
Spring 2019 – the first families moved into their newly built houses. Some stayed in the common house waiting for their homes to be built. We started paying dues in two tiers – those who live there and those waiting to move in.
August 16, 2019 – I moved into my new house. I was finally part of a cohousing community.
March 2020 – We closed the Common House due to Covid and one person was still living there and wanted germs far away (understandably). We had meetings outside and then on zoom.
June 2020 – there were meetings about the kid’s problematic behaviors and the parents weren’t getting along very well. I started meetings with just the kids to use methods from Democratic/Sudberry Schools where they make the rules. I tried to help.
June 29, 2020 – I made a decision to step in on a serious situation and most of the community hated my decision. Most started shunning me and one person said they didn’t want me to be a social pariah but they nor others talked to me publicly.
July 6, 2020 – After crying my eyes out for days (this was supposed to be my forever “family” and now I wasn’t allowed in), I rented a place right on the beach. It cost too much but I needed an bolt hole – a place for sanctuary and retreat. I figured I’d visit as much as I can – on the weekends and in the summer till it all blew over.
Aug 6, 2020 – we had a 9 hour zoom meeting with an outside mediator. They had talked to everyone in the community (even the family that had moved out in part due to the situation I tried to intervene in) and I thought we could do this! I was wrong. It became a consensus that I had done wrong and that was the only important issue.
I sent an email saying I was leaving permanently so they would stop focusing on me and work on the real issues (I don’t think that ever happened). But I knew I couldn’t live in a place where there was no on ramp for forgiveness and a place that shamed each other. And no one spoke up even though some had personally told me they weren’t as upset about it as others.
Aug 2020 – I went back and forth to move out. Some were even shaming my kids so I knew it wasn’t a good place for them either. I had my youngest stay at a friend’s house and never sleep another night there.
Sept 2020 – moved out completely to the beach house.
Oct 2020 – put my house on the market.
Nov 2020 – got two offers I choose the higher one but still would have lost money. Then they pulled out for some bogus reason of wanting to have their own edible farm (aren’t all farms edible?) but I respected that they didn’t want to live in that community. The second offer fell apart too.
I stupidly went to another zoom meeting with the same outside mediator. I was fulfilling one of their agenda items about how to tell future members the story of what had happened. Everyone tried to blame me again and even jumped at one person who tried to defend me. I realized it was useless – they would continue to use me as their boogeyman (woman) and never hear my truths. The mediator seemed feckless, again.
Dec 2020 – my realtor friend said I should look for a place to live and not pay someone else’s mortgage. I doubted I could afford anything at the beach but one condo opened up (away from the beach and without a view but I can walk!) I made an offer and in order to get the loan, I had to rent out my unselling cohousing house. I put an ad on craig’s list and found an amazing couple, without kids, to rent.
Jan 2021 – moved into my forever home by the beach. Great, fun neighbors.
Feb 2022 – my teenage son moved across state and had a lawn that he had to take care of. I asked one of the few pals left at the cohousing for my leaf blower that I had left behind. They said they couldn’t make the decision on their own – they had to ask the garden committee and get consensus. I was still bitter and didn’t want to donate anything to the community and just wanted it for my son. That was the last straw. I decided I didn’t want consensus ruling over my life. I had already put my life into the hands of this social group and got judged and blamed, I didn’t want it financially or any way having any effect on my life anymore.
I told the renters I was going to put the house for sale but it probably won’t sell like last time – too many obstacles for people really wanting cohousing.
March 2022 – I was wrong! The market had changed a lot and even those from all over the country will move into cohousing now. No more bogus reasons to not live there (believe me I heard it all last time – had to have a personal fireplace, no pets ever allowed to live there before, prefer to have a farm, etc). Luckily the buyers agreed to wait a few months since I promised the renters it wouldn’t interrupt their lives quickly. The buyers made an offer the day my realtor friend put it on MLS (they saw it through the community’s email blast).
June 2022 – renters moved out. They decided not to buy or even rent anymore in the community (that seemed never to really welcome them anyhow). They bought their own house.
I sign the papers and though the closing date is officially July 1st, it looks like I am free.
Free from emails about meetings and poll conditions.
Free from consensus.
Free from having any sort of reminder of that particular cohousing.
I emailed another former owner recently since I could’ve dropped by as I drove through their town. They said, since it’s been over a year since they sold their house, that they never think of that place at all. Now I can enjoy that thought process – freedom!