Kum Ba Yah
Different intentions define community
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.