In Spring 2010, my travel buddy Erik and I were en route to Mount Rainier. We stayed overnight in Seattle with a friend on the way up to the mountains.
We’d planned for regular houseguest kind of stuff – flowers, thank you notes, etc – but that only applies if your host doesn’t live in a commune. And turned out, our host lived in a commune. So, what makes a commune different than, oh say, living with a couple of roommates? Well, I’ll tell you.
- The number of people. There were probably ten permanent residents of this house, but total population fluctuated based on the couch-surfer head count at any given time. Kind of like Aspen in high season, but different.
- The food sitch. There’s no such thing as writing your name on a container of yogurt (don’t even get me started on store bought food) because all the provisions are shared. The kitchen was filled with buckets of different dried grains, and the front yard was converted into a wild vegetable garden. Emphasis on the wild.
- Open door policy. The front and back entrances were lockless and all the rest of the rooms in the house were doorless. Did you know doorless is an anagram of odorless? That’s ironic.
- Water conservation. This community didn’t waste water, so water sources like sinks drained into buckets that could be reused, probably for things like Hepatitis Baths.
I’m not as cynical as I sound; if I could live at Zendik Farms I would. We got some local brew and stayed up late talking with our host. In the morning we woke on Eastern Standard Time, hours before our Pacific Timezone housemates would be awake. Erik and I had lots we wanted to do before the drive – like walk the nearby lake to feed the ducks, drink really excellent Seattle coffee, and give back to our hosts by cooking up some kale chips for them as a surprise.
First we broke up the dry kale, wet it in olive oil, and popped it in oven. Then, we waited a few minutes for the kale to crisp, but it didn’t. Now this project was super boring. Erik had the attention span of a amnesic gold fish, and I was even worse. On to the next thing, we left to go get coffee.
We had such a nice morning! We got coffee, walked around the pond, and took photos on retrograde-film of everything in light rain. Feeling chipper from the caffeine jump and in anticipation of the drive up Rainier, we skipped back in through the front door. We ran right into clouds of black smoke and lots of sleepy hippies fanning out the first floor. “Oh shitmon,” said Erik. One of them squinted toward us, “Who are you guys?”
Is it my fault about the kale fire? I don’t know if I can really take all the blame. I mean, if I had a dollar for every time I got distracted, I wish I had a puppy.