I have a job. And a boss. And I’m not allowed to wear sandals.

I’m struggling with the differences between my life on the commune and the life I’m building for myself here. I wanted to carry it all with me: the ideals, the sense of possibilities, my comfort with my body and its functions. I just recently started peeing outside again, after feeling worried that the neighbors would drive by. I still haven’t felt all right about taking off my shirt on hot days while I’m working around the yard.

This whole “job” thing is also a challenge for me. I’m re-training myself to remember to bring everything I need for the day, including clothes for various weather conditions. At Twin Oaks, I ran back to my room several times a day to get warmer clothes or nap or grab whatever I needed for my next activity. I only work 7 miles away from home, but that’s still too far to pop in for a sweatshirt or a snack. Also, I’m working with people I don’t know and who don’t know me, and that’s uncomfortable. I guess anyone who’s starting a new job will have that experience, but after working for nearly 4 years with people I knew on all kinds of intimate levels, it’s quite a shift. They told me on Friday that I’m not allowed to wear sandals on the job (it’s a freaking summer camp!), and I was taken aback by how smoothly and confidently they told me what I have to do. No conversation, no explanation of why… just, “this is the way it is.” You aren’t on the commune anymore, Dorothy. I’m only working two days a week now, and I’m a little anxious about what it’ll be like to be under someone else’s command for 50 hrs a week once I start full time in May.

I’m struggling with how much I’m driving, the kinds of food I’m eating, the ways I’m spending money, and how I’m passing the time. I’ve been watching more movies than ever, because Free’s kids love them (I’ve now seen Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter at least 5 times each). I’m eating more sugar than I have in a long time, sleeping less than I need to (when the kids can’t sleep, we can’t sleep), and not spending much time by myself. Welcome to Instant Motherhood! Fall in love, get three kids as part of the package.

and at the same time, I’m in a play again, and loving it. I love going to rehearsals and exploring emotions and motivations in conjunction with other talented actors. The play is All My Sons, but Arthur Miller, and it’s a brilliant look at human responsibility and interdependence, and the ways that mainstream culture undermines personal repsonsibility. At least, that’s the way that I read it, and I’m honored to be presenting a show that delivers that kind of message. This is my way of serving the world: developing awareness. And theater is one of the primary ways for doing that.

One thing I’m noticing about being away from Twin Oaks is that I’m excercising my “proactive” muscles again. For the most part (when I’m not at work), I get to decide what I do in every moment, instead of following my labor sheet. Of course, my schedule is going to quickly fill up and soon I’ll be working a full time job and rehearsals in the evening and then I’ll have school… but for now, my days are my own and I find myself responding to my own initiatives, making things happen around here without going through extensive process or thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility. I’m doing a lot of home repair jobs, fixing up the double wide which was built to fall apart, finding ways to make it more stable and effective as a home.

At the same time, I miss the structure of Twin Oaks, where everything I did had meaning in the larger world because it was supporting the community, an alternative model for healthy living. Everything I did was a part of that larger organism which was contributing to the world in a way that I loved and was proud of. Here, me fixing the closet shelves doesn’t have any larger meaning, except my happiness and comfort, which tangentially affects the people I interact with, which tangentially affects the larger world… it’s all much less tangible, and so my responsibility is less tangible. I notice myself sliding on my ideals and integrity because my choices don’t seem to make as much of a difference. I’m getting lazy and a bit apathetic, and that frightens me. I’ve only been away from the commune for 3 months and I’m already feeling passive? Yikes!