Thursday, August 4, 2011

How It Begins

IT is 8:30 on a Sunday night when I finally cram the last of my possessions into my car.  I take one last pass through the house, looking for anything I might have left behind, but there is nothing.  The house is more empty and more echoey than I have ever seen it; when I bought it, the previous owners left behind some unwanted furnishings at my request, but now there is nothing. "Oh, House," I begin fondly, and then, swerving clear of nostalgia: "make me some money."

I expected to feel sad at this point, locking up my home of nine years for the last time; but getting this place fixed up, cleaned up, and moved out of has taken so darn long, so many many hours of work, that I'm just relieved.  And tired.  I've done little else for the past several weeks, and many of my friends have devoted spare hours (in some cases, hours they could barely spare) to the cause.  (That, more than anything else, has made me question this plan of mine: looking around at all the people who lavished time and energy on this house-prep project of mine and thinking, Why am I leaving all these people who love me so much?)  Now I'm over 24 hours past the time I'd hoped to be finished, and a cot is waiting for me in a vacation rental on the coast, and I'm eager to get on the road.

The summer light is already fading as I cruise gently through my neighborhood for the last time.  My car is very heavy, I observe, accelerating a little extra to get up the hill south of my house, but my heart is very light. I keep checking in on it: How are you feeling? Okay? How about now? Still okay?  But every time the answer is still relief, relief that this massive project is finally over, relief at having crossed a sufficient number of things off the list that I can drive away now, relief at having the bulk of the goodbyes behind me.  When I begin a trip, I always wonder what I've forgotten -- did I pack my deodorant? my comb? my checkbook?  But this time, I am plagued by no such questions.  Everything is with me.

At the gas station, I fish out one of the mix CDs I grabbed for the road when I was packing.  The first song is in Icelandic, and I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but it's clearly all about anticipation.  Its chiming refrain urges me on toward the freeway, toward the coast, toward the Next Thing.

* * *

My name is Lindsey, and I'm leaving home to have Adventures. I quit my job and rented out my house so I could travel and learn more about the world. Right now, what I'm most interested in learning about is community -- the kind of community people deliberately build together, community in which people share resources and living spaces and themselves with one another.

As a single, middle-class thirty-mumble-year-old, I have worked most of the past two decades to be independent, to be able to provide for all my own needs, to not need anything from anybody. I found it exhausting and largely unsatisfying, and I never felt like I was much good at it. Furthermore, it left me with little time and energy for other people. Oh, I've always been blessed with excellent friends, but community is a different sort of thing, and I have felt its lack.

Therefore, in planning this new phase of my life, I decided community was the thing I most wanted to investigate. Specifically, "intentional community," an awkward catch-all phrase that includes everything from communes to monasteries to kibbutzes to utopian efforts to eco-villages to farming co-ops to co-housing developments to... well, once I started researching the subject, I found there were a lot of subcategories. And they all sounded pretty interesting, in one way or another. I started putting pins into a map and found I could identify something worth visiting just about everywhere.

So, after a lot of thinking, this is the plan I landed on: I am going to visit a series of intentional communities, and I am going to stay long enough with some of them to get a feel for what life is like there, and I am going to exchange labor for room and board whenever possible, and I am going to write about my experiences, right here on this blog. In the interest of making the money stretch as far as possible, I'm restricting my travels to North America (just the US for now, though there may be some border-crossing later).  I am planning to do this for as long as I can manage, which I anticipate to be about two years.  I don't know what will happen after that. But I have a feeling that by the time I get that far, I'll have some ideas.


  1. I'm so looking forward to hearing about your adventures! I get to live life through you! The best of luck and our prayers go with you!

  2. Cathos, you're welcome. Do I know you?
    Ashley, thank you so much!
    Sang: *hug!*

  3. OMG, you are one of the craziest people I know, and you know how much I love crazy!! I am so proud of you, so proud to have a friend as brave as you, and so happy that you have the gift to share it the way you do. I can't wait to see you and read all Bout your adventure!

  4. i meant to tell you - from the beginning - that this is an excellently titled blog