Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Bohemian Lifestyle

Yesterday, three of us were talking about our plans for the fall. When I said that mine included, "living the bohemian lifestyle with my brother in Chicago," he questioned, "What's the bohemian lifestyle?"

I thought it was a fairly funny question since at that moment, we (Ann, Gabe and I) were lazing around the lake at Moran State Park with a two-year-old that none of us owned. Ann is Jeff's roommate. Gabe had to drive his roommate from town out to Jeff's end of the island to work at Doe Bay at 6:00 in the morning. Since he and Ann are friends, he then went to their house to go back to sleep until 10:00. In the meantime, Jamie dropped off her two-year-old son Leoni (they made up the name so that it would work in French, Dutch and English, the languages of the parents) with Ann because she watches him in the mornings. I was going to spend the day writing at Jeff's house since there are no boxes there calling to me, "Unpack me and organize you life," so I could focus on actually writing. Ann took Leoni to wake up Gabe and as we were all milling around the living space getting our day started, Ann and Gabe asked me if I want to go to the state park with them. Ann is taking this opportunity because she does not have a car and would not normally be able to get Leoni that far. Her job with him (usually there's also another two-year-old, Indigo, who is on vacation right now) is to expose him to new experiences, to tire him out and to teach him French. I looked at the beautiful day, considered the prospect of spending time outside, with two very enjoyable peopl and a delightful two-year-old and said, "screw it" to my former plans and made new ones on the spot.

So I liked that Gabe asked the question then since everything about the morning was quintessentially "bohemian lifestyle." Community and socialization through simply hanging out. Being brought together by doing favors for friends. Very loose boundaries evident by letting someone else sleep in your bed and letting someone else use your computer. Open schedules that allow for all of this. International sensibilities. Outside of the mainstream situations such as Ann and Gabe's roommate lack of cars. My ability to change plans at the last minute, which has been very hard for me in the past. My original artistic intentions. The quality of our interactions with the two-year-old since none of us were his parent. The name Leoni.

Nothing about that morning would have been possible in my old suburban life. I might have had similar conversations with friends but we would have made the plans ahead of time and they would have been much more complicated. There might have been a child, but someone would have been its parent since most of my friends were higher on the career ladder than childcare. If they had chosen childcare for a living, it would have been much too structured and formal to take a charge to the beach with friends. All of my friends have similar suburban backgrounds and experiences to mine, so the chances of a child named Leoni and a husband named Fabrese are slim. Although the ends of the island seem distant to us, they are actually closer than any of my friends used to be when we all lived in different suburbs or the city, so the likelihood of ending up in someone's neighborhood with time to kill and people that you know there to spend it with was low. I worked so much at my job and at maintaining my home and my appearance that I would never have the time for such casual interaction.

Do I love the friends that I made in my suburban life? Absolutely. They will never stop being my friends, even though our social engagements have to be scheduled ahead of time. But, I am hoping to build a community in the city that is geographically close, like the island, in which I can have spontaneous days like these. If that means working retail for a little while longer, living with two roommates and reducing my standard of living, so be it.

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