Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Reminders About Communal Living

Sharing a house with people for a week is a good way to confirm just how you feel about each of them. When you get past the newness of everything and rooms are decided, there are issues of communal living that simply must be addressed -- like who will cook, who will take out the trash, who will clean up, and perhaps most importantly, whether anyone gives a shit if the counters are clean and the trash is emptied. I mean, after all, we’re on vacation!

Fortunately everyone likes clean counters. If there’s a smutz, invariably someone will clean it up. Neal may not approve of the wad of paper towels that David attacks it with, but it will not just go unnoticed.

Bill and I are the ones who like to cook. We have an appreciative audience who are content to show up when food is served and to clean up afterwards. Just the way I like it.

The trash seems to be getting taken out without my help. That may well be Neal, who has also been able to magic up anything we need, such as a broom and dustpan. (We have gone through a prodigious quantity of white wine and managed to break a few glasses.) Neal also shows up with current newspapers each morning.

Mary sets the table and clears it. Deborah makes coffee and unloads the dishwasher. David makes trips to the farmers’ market whenever we need something and is on the clean-up crew. Bill, the gardener, waters all the plants. And so on and so on.

When I lived in a group house in the 70s, it was a royal pain in the ass to get anyone to do anything in the way of cleaning. There were novel excuses, like “I can’t mop the floor because I don’t know how.” I resorted to a job chart that gave each person one of 5 major jobs each week. It failed miserably and I ended up doing some things when my disgust exceeded my level of tolerance.

So as you can see, since the initial issue about who got which bedroom, this week has been the perfect example of communal living. It’s unclear as to whether we could keep this up for more than a week, when politeness might give way to someone feeling like he or she was carrying a bigger load. But for now, I like it. I can cook and have people compliment my food and not feel compelled to do much of anything else.


Blogger Kristin said...

It sounds like the shared house might be okay for the week. Not quite enough time to get on everyone else's nerves. Actually, more than enough time to get on everyone else's nerves. Not enough time to get crazy about it.

My friends and I are all quite OCD. When we travel together, we don't worry about mess so much as the obsession to clean and the frequent rearranging of everybody else's kit. A problem in and of itself but not as bad as messiness.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Isn't it nice to spend a week with grown ups? That's the difference, you know.

I do live in some kind of version of a group house, but we're all adults. We all cook, take out the trash, wipe the counters, go to the supermarket. Glad you're having such a great time!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

It is nice to live with other like-minded grown-ups. Our last experience vacationing with grown-ups revealed more differences than similarities! It is nice when no one has to think about whose turn it is to do anything.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Part of the harmony with which you are now living is due to the fact that we, thank goodness, have all grown up into adults nd have had to do these chores almost mindlessly. The other reason is a study in social dynamics...some groups just seem to gel easier. Depends on the individual components of the group. Sounds like you have a good one!!! Jello!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Sounds like you are having a very nice time.

7:47 PM  

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