There have been whispers of late at Jewel Street Paradise. Questions mostly, perhaps head shaking but certainly what seems to me like a quiet disdain. Maybe it was the rabbits, perhaps the worm bin and bales of hay in the basement. Perhaps it was the round of questioning from me regarding the homemade detergent that I thought had disappeared (it was only moved, my fault)… whatever it was, it seems that I’ve finally reached a point where the people I share a house with no longer completely understand my motivation to live a certain way. Beekeeping, raising livestock, gardening and self-sufficiency are usually done in roomy locales for good reason. I’ve done the best job I can to be conscientious, cleaning up the bits of straw that find their way to everywhere and tidying the yard on a daily basis, but what I see as perfection is seen as a blight by others. But the road goes both ways. I see grotesqueness where others see beauty, too.
And you know what– that’s ok. I’ve never wanted any of this to be a situation where people are expected bend to my ideologies or adapt to my lifestyle. Of course you sort of hope that it inspires people and they want to be part of it, but the truth is, not everyone’s head is in the same place as mine. Some people just want things simple, uncomplicated. Everything in it’s correct place so it needn’t be worried about. When many people share that place, you’ve got to contend with the fact that little annoyances will mount up and become big problems in our minds, disrupting the flow of normal day-to-day thought. I’ve been on the other side of things, getting miffed over people making noise or not composting “right” or fussing with my laundry. None of them being particularly serious issues, but I let them get to me and they taint my experience of home. That’s on me. I can’t let resentment take me. None of us should allow it. It’s a big challenge but simply, it’s part of the deal when you live here. You just have to adjust to being around people, with all of their greatness and foibles, constantly.
Five years into living in Brooklyn and I am just starting to truly understand what that means. You are never really alone. Not everyone wants beer bottles and brewing equipment taking up living space. Not everyone finds the smell of a smoldering smoker romantic. Not everyone wants to wake to the sound of a chicken celebrating their daily egg. A few of us revel in it. But many do not. You’ve got to think about these things constantly if you want to get along.
But I won’t complain, I’ve been very fortunate. I butt heads with the people I live with seldomly, and never to any extreme. They are all very accommodating and for their part they seem to enjoy some aspects of our little urban homestead. If they are put off by something, I am usually pretty good about reading between the lines and trying to improve the situation. I do the best I can. I want everyone to be happy. I want to be happy. It is our home. Sometimes I think it’s all we’ve got.
I should thank my neighbors more often. I think that if they knew that I appreciated them for what they do and don’t do perhaps they would simply say to themselves “Oh, that crazy Meg!” (I don’t think of myself as crazy) when I bring home donated bus tubs of insect larvae for the chickens or a leaking bag of spent grains instead of possibly silently resenting it. After all, it’s in part because of them that all of it is what it is.
What is “it”? It is home and we share it. It needs protecting too, even if it is from myself. We all look to this place as a sanctuary and it is so needed. I’ve got to figure out how to keep everyone happy, without having to sacrifice my way of life. If I don’t have this, I don’t have anything.