Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celebrating Community with Fighting Monkey Press: Community Togetherness

For Pavarti K Tyler's Community Celebration for Eid al Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

For today, Pavarti asks: "What does community togetherness mean to you?"

Thursday was easy.  I love food.  I love to cook for friends and family.  Recipe?  No problem.

This is a tough one.

First, "community togetherness" is a bit broad and vague.  Also, my world these days is very weird.

Four and a half years ago, I moved to Spokane to be near my sister and her family.  My wife and I could buy a house here.  We couldn't afford to do that in Seattle.  Since then, we've had two kids and our attention is of course focussed on them.

Then my sister got divorced, moved away from her husband and kids, then everyone moved back west.

I have a very social job as a hotel bartender, but the relationships are rather shallow.  I have buddies I work with, but we rarely hang out outside of work.  I have guests I know on a personal basis, but they never see me sitting down, out of uniform, or without a name-tag.

I've finally entered the 21st century and, as an independent author, do a vast majority of my communication and socialization online.  Many of the people I share words with I would never recognize in person and have never heard their voice.

Yet I have more personal connections with these people online than anyone in my neighborhood.  Somehow, we all are so busy with our own jobs, kids and backyards that I never spend time with the people next door or down the street.

So, community togetherness?  My community is quite small: my wife, two boys, a dog and a cat.  Those are the people that are tremendously important to me.  After that, my parents, sister, niece and nephews I adore and wish I could spend more time with.  A couple good friends.

Already my time is spread thin, so as for the rest of humanity?  If they don't bother me, I won't bother them.

And then we're all playing in the front yard last night, which is more shady than the back yard during the evening.  I take my increasingly curious 4 month old down the block to look at cars and pluck leaves from the trees.  A couple doors down some kids are riding tricycles with their parents watching.  We get to talking.  They're Belarusian and speak a language similar to my wife's native Czech.  My older son rolls up on his trike.  He's bilingual, but too shy to speak.  My neighbor and I get to comparing numbers and other words, discovering than lingually we have a lot in common.

Don't know if I've said anything profound about community togetherness.  Maybe I noted that the neighborhood community is in danger of slipping away as the online community grows.

Yeah, that sounds deep.

I'm as guilty as anyone because not only do I work odd hours compared to most nine-to-fivers, but I'm professionally social.  On my own time I enjoy being left alone.  Now with a wife and kids who need my love and attention (and I need theirs) all-by-myself time is a rare and precious jewel to me.