I feel neglectful for not having transcribed my thoughts of leaving here on the blog. It’s been a busy time for me, both actually and mentally. The thoughts haven’t held still enough to write them down… oh, that’s not a fair portrayal, not fair to the thoughts themselves. They were there, and I was uncomfortable with them. Leave the commune? Parts of me are ready for it, parts of me aren’t. I’ve been here for three years; I’m ready for a new perspective. The passive aggressive communication culture drives me crazy, and I see myself acquiring those traits the longer I live here.

And at the same time, I’ve grown roots here. I have deep friendships and lovers and partners — I’ve found family here. I love living rurally. I love being so directly involved in the basics of sustaining my life and the lives of others. I love harvesting zucchini. I love swimming naked in the pond and being shirtless without being ogled. I love walking and biking on tree-lined paths.

And at the same time, I want to have more direct experience of the larger world. I want to understand what’s happening beyond these 450 acres, I want to experience it and be directly invested in creating a healthier world. I’ve gotten too caught up in the petty bullshit issues of Twin Oaks. I’m frustrated with spending my time and energy figuring out how to accomodate individual neuroses, as the culture of Twin Oaks prescribes.

I’ve been playing with the idea of leaving for awhile now. About a month ago, I accepted that within the next year I’d likely take a Personal Affairs Leave (PAL), which means that I drop membership for up to a year and get my same room when I come back. Over the last few weeks, my exploration became more earnest, seeking possibilities of what I could do for a year. Travel? Get a funky activist job? All the while, my relationships here were a strong reason not to leave. And I still felt the pull towards other things. I felt like I was split in two or more pieces, feeling desires and needs pulling against each other in opposite directions.

Then one morning last week I was laying in bed with my partner Free in his house near Charlottesville, and we were talking about possibilities and fears about the future. In exploring different “what ifs”, an idea bubbled up and crystalized, fitting into an open space in my heart that connected the divergent desires. Go to grad school, get my PhD, become a professor. Go to UVA, right there in Charlottesville. Live at the collective house that has strong ties to the communities movement. Maintain my connections with friends and lovers at Twin Oaks, be closer to Free, feed my hunger for academic exploration, stay involved in collaborative living. I’ve held the idea in my heart and mind for the last few days, and it still fits beautifully, though of course there’s also sadness with the idea of leaving this home. That’s a part of it, too.

And for now, I’m still here. What a time to be here! A good friend is giving birth tonight – the first baby born here in almost three years. Mala’s water broke last night, and her sweetie Ezra grabbed me on his way up to see her. I hung out with her for a few hours, helping get final preparations together. The news spread fast, and lots of folks showed up to check in and share in the excitement. The commune is twittering with anticipation. The local midwife will show up later today, and we’ll all gather for a “birthing party” downstairs while she’s in her birthing room upstairs (usually a small living room where we have meetings and give massages). Last night she showed me how she had set up the room, and I was thrilled to discover that she had chosen to hang one of my paintings from a recent art show. I had hung a bunch of my art in the dining hall and invited folks to take whatever they wanted. I’m tickled and honored that I get to have a small presence in her birth (she’s specified certain people that she wants in the room when she’s heavy into labor, while everyone else parties downstairs).

So at the same time as I’m starting to disengage, I still feel the power of my life here, and it feels amazing. I do love living here, and it’s time for me to move on.