Several months ago, Courtney and I were growing tired of telling so and so every two weeks that "we should get together sometime." It was never happening. We weren't filling our home with people as often as we would have liked. So we experimented with a rule. If you offer dinner, you have to set a date–immediately.
Within weeks, we had several people over.
The experiment is now ritual.
While that has been a wonderful change. It was still so regimented, digging through the calendar for the next mutual date and setting a time of arrival as if this were a haircut or a reservation. It's closer to what we want, but not quite there. Or maybe it's just a piece of the larger puzzle we're working on.
But now a different sort of get together is emerging in our recently shrunk community.
Take for example one of the many blustery winter days we had this year in Goshen. When we found out that there was yet another state of emergency, making it illegal to drive, I let the world of facebook know that our front room was open for business, Courtney and I walked down to the Brew (which had to close) and grabbed the leftover coffee and baked goods, and within the hour our living room was packed. Most hung around until late afternoon.
Or consider the other night when we had some friends over for burgers. By the end of the evening our neighbors joined us for desert.
Or. A few weeks ago we ran into a neighbor and his girlfriend heading out the door. We all ended up at The Chief for ice cream.
In the past few months, we've probably had more impromptu get togethers than we've had in the last several years combined. And it's only possible because we have the space in our lives to let it happen. We haven't booked every cranny of our life into oblivion. And since everything is geographically squished together, people can drop in easily on their way to or from something else.
It reminds me a bit of my college days in Ohio. I lived on a small campus with 70-100 other students in the middle of a cornfield. There was almost always something to do, something going on, some great conversation waiting to happen. It's the sort of thing that we are told is an aberration. This sort of community that both drives you mad and madly in love is a one time deal. I realize now, that was a lie.
The truth is that I was in the process of exchanging that sort of community for things like privacy, a better paying job, immediate home ownership, and a host of other opportunities. (And I'm not just talking ideals, I've actually turned all these things down in the last couple years because the opportunities presented would disrupt the sort of life we want to live.) The reason that sort of life is unique to certain bubbles in the universe that we hold so dear, places like college, or camp, or camping, etc. is because we aren't willing to volunteer the limitations necessary to create that sort of environment in the everyday. It's not a requirement that we live the way we do–but lets be honest with ourselves. For most of us, we traded in.