I’m a pretty weird person. And I grew up on a commune. Not a cult, mind you. At least not anymore.
Most people at the commune were pretty weird, but do you know what the best part about leaving the commune is? I get to use growing up on the commune as my excuse for everything!
“Jojo, wanna go on a bike ride with me on the Olentangy Trail?”
Ya know, I never learned how to ride a bike.
I grew up on a commune. I mean, come on right?! Bluusssh
Nah, but for real. I was definitely the only kid at the commune that didn’t know how to ride a bike. It definitely stunted my ability to quickly get to our communal meals a mile across our campus. But, hey, super passive fathering combined with sweet graphics and a fierce rivalry with Dillon on NBA Live 2001 meant no bike riding for me. At the time of print, I have finally learned how to ride a bike in my twenty-third year of life on this earth.
There’s a common critique in feminism: women don’t only exist in relation to men. Much ire is aroused when men say things like “I support women’s rights because of my sister/wife/mother” etc. Of course, men should support those rights just because it’s the right, human thing to do, regardless of whether or not they are in relationships with women.
But I’ll be honest here. That’s sadly not how human beings work. And I’ll admit I am definitely a lot more kind and gracious to men I don’t know, because of all the men I do know. In fact, I would say, it takes relationships with anyone to make the abstract concrete. Yes, we should treat people with justice, grace, compassion, kindness, and love just because they are people. It’s just that most of the time, that’s not reality. And though it is inefficient and messy and not a sweeping game-change, the best way to recast reality is to immerse yourself in relationships with others to really understand their experiences. It’s not because they’re “clueless,” it’s because we’re human and that’s how we, to quote Wayne Campbell, “buy a clue.”
Here’s my story. Continue reading
My favorite thing about my boyfriend’s apartment in New York, located a block from mine, was probably the roof deck where he proposed to me. My least favorite thing? Gotta be the rat who lived in the wall.
As New Yorkers, we were accustomed to sharing our space with other creatures, but most rodents had the decency to remind us of their existence only around trash heaps and in the subterranean train tunnels. But that early-morning (and late-afternoon, and evening…) scratching, inches from our heads, reminded us with its creepy proximity that we city-dwellers were never truly alone. Which can be equal turns unsettling and comforting, a mixture of extremes that is so New York.
I grew up in Alabama with a book permanently attached to my hand, harboring a lifelong aversion to team sports and social events: the consummate introvert. New York and its eight million residents would appear to be an ill fit for such a personality, but after visiting a couple of times during grad school, I fell in love. What I couldn’t articulate at the time but somehow intuitively detected was that, though the city kept me surrounded by people, each of them was a self-contained unit requiring no acknowledgment from me before going about their day. Contrast this to the South, where a walk down the street without greeting each person you pass is akin to a federal offense. I found the lack of eye contact in the city refreshing and was content to get warmth from the steam rising from the subway grates in lieu of needing it from passers-by. New York seemed poised to provide me with a simultaneous, paradoxical couplet of my biggest cravings: anonymity and identity.
Friends, I’m currently on the eve of my 32nd year. When last I spoke about my age, I gave you a do’s and don’ts list for your 30s, where I came up with a list of what I planned to do (and not do) as I entered my fourth decade of life.
Now here I stand two years later. A little older, a little wiser, and a little more reflective. So I return to you, bearing a new list. This is mainly a “do’s” list, going over the things I have learned that are pretty great to do in your 30s.