August 24, 2011

On Community

I saw the fantastic documentary Darwin this weekend, and not only did it ignite in me a burning desire to return to the Eastern Sierras, but it also got me thinking...

If an old mining ghost town consisting of 35 people, no children, no government and no church can somehow forge a sense of community among its last surviving residents... a sprawling city full of people like LA, where can I forge mine?

At work? I used to find all my friends and dates at work, until my coworker pool dwindled down from 300 to 3.

At home? I live alone, in a dogmatic "quiet" building whose tenants mostly keep to themselves.

In my neighborhood, roughly bordered by the Troubadour to the north and the Four Seasons to the south? What could I possibly have in common with the blue-hairs at the nail salon, the slicked-back, well-groomed shoppers at Bristol Farms who wear their sunglasses at night, and the sundressed debutantes at Lemonade?

At the pool, the gay men with their tremendous bodies and tiny, brightly-colored swim shorts? The overweight, feeble elderly women in the slow therapy lane? The urban youth lifeguards, wrapped in bright red blankets to ward off the evening's chill?

At my Weight Watchers meetings?

At gallery openings, urban hikes and walking tours, where I am mistaken for a designer, an architect, an urban planner, and even a geologist, though I am none of those things?

At bars and restaurants, where I am mistaken for working in the industry? I insinuate myself with bartenders and waiters during happy hour, but I know, I do not belong with them.

I rely on part-time friends, sometime lovers, and a borrowed family, but they do not belong to me.

I know no God; I acknowledge no Devil.

I bear no children.

I have no common purpose with anyone to bring me closer to them - no water to divert, no heat to weather, no strangers to scare off, no enemies to shoot.

Where are my people? How can I live in such big cities and yet connect with no one on any kind of meaningful basis?

I've been alone for so long, I don't think I'd even recognize the opportunity to commune more than what the transience of a month in the desert,  a weekend away, or a night out on the town normally affords me.

So life becomes a series of microtransactions strung together in a string of twinkly lights, dangling from beams, tucked into bushes and lining the panes, illuminating in tandem, but each too dim to shed light on anything on their own.

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