earlier moments of clarity, pt. 1

we talked about living together in a big collective like the factory. i said, "no one will ever want to live with me, because of the kids." "i will live with you," she said. "it takes a village anyhow."

writing and thinking is easier when the people around you are also writing and thinking. your brain just naturally wants to fall in line with whatever's happening around you. my brain, anyway. this is a problem when what's happening around me is a movie marathon or a nerf gun war. i wanted the collective. we all wanted the collective. i still want it.

in 2000, when i was still just a doll on a shelf, i stayed at the ecovillage for a while in the spring or maybe summer. five or six other people were living in the house and contributing and growing as humans; i was paying $12 a night and thinking about myself.

an older man who used to work for NASA was there, and he'd just started getting into quinoa. quinoa is a complete protein. quinoa doesn't take long to cook, so you use less energy and fewer resources. quinoa can go with almost anything. had i ever had it in a salad? i had not. well then he would make some for me the next day. ok.

the NASA man had recently left his wife and had been travelling all over and figuring out who he was and why and how he could be better. i imagined him sitting at his big desk with the space logo behind his head, doing the math -- like how long he could afford to be gone with the money he'd saved -- and realizing he could stay gone for a long time, actually. i imagined him being excited and sure about a thing for the first time in probably 25 years. i considered his wife for an instant -- her feelings -- and then she was gone.

what he was doing seemed like something i could never do. i had this baby person with fat cheeks and loud plastic toys -- i couldn't go anywhere. i thought i couldn't go anywhere. i didn't realize i was there already, that i had gone somewhere and it was there. i felt out of place in that house but i think that was because i felt out of place everywhere. when the woman - she was beautiful and so simple to look at - sat in the rocking chair next to a buddha statue, i felt like a fake. when NASA man talked about kale at dinner, i felt like a fake. when the dirty, messy-haired shirtless boy made coffee with a mason jar and sieve, i felt impressed but also still very fake.

i wanted so so much to feel at home or at least comfortable, in my skin and in that house. the house wasn't where i belonged, though. it was a choice. it didn't seem like fate or anything worthwhile. it looked like everything else i'd ever done, with the notable exception of this tiny, perfect dogeared moment. the moment that i'd stood outside under the moon and said to his eyeballs, "i need to stay here. this is where i need to be. where can i go. i have money."

i could stay at the ecovillage. i could pay the small small dollars and be very very quiet -- wait, did the child cry? no, not usually. would he need anything special? no, definitely not. -- and i could have this space. they were happy to help, yes.

i think it was the first decision i'd ever made without the benefit of an outside opinion.