Kum Ba Yah

Dif­fer­ent in­ten­tions de­fine com­mu­nity

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUR TOWN - LISA KEL­LEY Lisa Kel­ley is an award-win­ning colum­nist, mas­ter gar­dener, an­i­mal lover and all-around good ol’ South­ern gal who also hap­pens to prac­tice law and me­di­ate cases in down­town Ben­tonville. Email her at Lisa@ArkansasAtty.com.

She held the greet­ing card be­side her like Vanna White show­cas­ing a piece of jew­elry on the gameshow “Wheel of For­tune.” “Re­mind you of any­one?” my West Coast gal pal wryly asked.

The card showed a scene from the 1930s of two stylish ladies rais­ing their glasses in a toast, with one gal grin­ning pro­fusely at the other, who looks a bit like she just swal­lowed a moth. The cap­tion read, “Ever no­tice how the worst de­ci­sions make the best sto­ries?” I grinned pro­fusely.

The events of the day ac­tu­ally be­gan weeks be­fore, when my West Coast gal pal be­gan in­un­dat­ing me and her hus­band with in­for­ma­tion about “in­ten­tional com­mu­ni­ties” — those planned res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties de­signed with a high de­gree of so­cial co­he­sion and team­work, ac­cord­ing to the all-know­ing Wikipedia. “You mean com­munes,” I said. “They aren’t com­munes,” she dis­puted.

“They look … like com­munes. I bet the lit­tle drug­gies sit in a cir­cle, hold hands, sing Kum­baya and run around naked.”

“No, they don’t!” she protested. “They sim­ply want to share things.” “I’m sure they do.”

“If you’re un­com­fort­able go­ing, then I’ll be un­com­fort­able, so why don’t you just drop me off?”

“There’s no way I’m just drop­ping you off at the Don­ner party.”

“They aren’t the Don­ner party! We’ve emailed sev­eral times, and they seem nice!”

We pulled up to an old farm­house sur­rounded by over­grown veg­e­ta­tion and a faded red barn. A farmer greeted us, showed us around the farm­house, and in­vited us to at­tend their busi­ness meet­ing.

As we made our way down the lane to the pavil­ion, I no­ticed a weath­ered sign with an ar­row point­ing to­ward a pond. In yel­low paint, it read “Cloth­ing Op­tional.”

Folks of vary­ing ages made their way from all cor­ners of the 300 acres to a wide cir­cle of chairs. The fa­cil­i­ta­tor passed a small empty bowl around the cir­cle — who­ever had the bowl, had the floor.

“Like the conch,” I said, al­lud­ing to the Lord of the Flies, and cring­ing a bit as I re­called how that book turned out.

The group was clad (thank­fully) in cot­ton T-shirts, tanks and shorts, with hik­ing san­dals and boots, and tou­sled hair and deep tans.

They dis­cussed points of busi­ness re­gard­ing the prop­erty and one man told of his bike trip through Iowa on acid tabs.

“We don’t all do acid,” whis­pered a pleas­ant fel­low.

“Duly noted,” I replied. Af­ter a tour of the off-grid cot­tages and blue­berry farms my friend and I got back in the car and drove off into the non­com­mu­nal sun­set.

“I am never go­ing to live this down,” sighed Pollyanna.

And thus is the story of how one gaudy, glit­tery greet­ing card is now promi­nently dis­played in my lit­tle home. Some­one’s laugh­ing, my Lord. Kum bay ya.

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