Community Living: The Gift of Living with the Men
My life has evolved around women. My mother ran the household. I have a sister who I shared a room with during most of my childhood. I have worked for organizations like Planned Parenthood, Women’s Health Concerns Committee, ran Girl Scout troops, organized women circles and started Heal My Voice, an organization committed to empowering women.
I have a father who traveled for work during the week and played golf on the weekend. I have one brother who is seven years younger than me. I married two men who worked a lot and then spent their free time in isolation working on projects in the yard or workshop.
Until I moved into a community house, I had very little time just hanging out in the presence of men. My current research is observing and interacting with the men I live with and the wide variety of men who come over to hang out, come to community parties and work on projects.
I am not in a romantic relationship with any of them. We live and play together in community and we do share feelings and intimacies. We are connecting.
There are two important things that have been happening for me. I am embracing the opportunity to observe and witness them individually and collectively and to receive support and words that are healing some deep wounds in me from past relationships with men.
Words of support:
(For those of you who have had solid support from a man, you may not understand the healing and the impact of the words below. But, for those of you have not felt fully supported here are a few conversations. )
Night before moving in:
Jason: “Sorry to text late. What assistance do you need for move in tomorrow? “
My inner thoughts: (Assistance? Why would I need assistance? I can move everything myself. I already packed the car and I can move everything in myself.)
Me: “I don’t need any support. Thanks anyway.”
(Day we were moving in)
Jason: Are you going to sleep in the house tonight?
Me: I have a phone call at 6am that requires internet. I can’t move in until the internet is installed.
Jason: (stops, puts down a box, picks up cell phone and makes a phone call. “Let’s get it hooked up now. I can go over to the place to get the equipment in 15 minutes. I will get it connected tonight or tomorrow at the latest”
My inner thoughts: (Wondering what species of man this is and why he is helping me so much. Taking charge and being so nice!)
Week 2 of living in the house
Damian: Where are you going?
Me: I am taking the bus over to Santa Monica
Damian: I can drive you. When do you want to go?
Me: In five minutes. Are you going out? Are you going in that direction?
Damian: Not leaving yet, but I can drive you whenever you are ready.
(Damian at Costco posing for photo I was sending to Andreas. Decision making about chairs for house.)
A month later. Day of community party. Jason was in the kitchen cooking for the party.
Me: I think things are too busy and there isn’t going to be time for you to help me. It’s okay. Maybe tomorrow.
Jason (looks me in the eye): I will make time for you right now. (Turns over the cooking for the party to someone else. Tells a guest that we will be back in 15 minutes. Stops everything and helps me!)
I have been on the road for a business trip for over two weeks. It is three days until OMX conference in San Francisco. We are all attending.
Andreas: We have a place for you to stay at the conference. Just show up
Me: Thanks for caring for me and remembering what I needed.
Andreas: You got it lady!