Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Fences

Rain. Nonstop, pounding, driving rain. It's a good thing for the water barrels and cisterns, buckets and cups. It's not a warm rain by any means, but it's not freezing either. We needed to rebuild our reserves, and the reservoir down the road is apparently filling, because I took a shower this morning. I figured given the sheer volume of water falling from the sky, I could afford the twenty gallons or so to clean up nicely.

One negative, though, is that work has screeched to a grinding halt. Can't work a field or patch a wall in this weather, not that the wall really needs much more at the moment. I guess it's actually a good thing, because it's given the majority of folks around here a much needed day off. We've been fighting our collective exhaustion for days now, and I imagine a good number of folks are enjoying a nice sleep in.

Not all of us, though. I was struck by something pretty minor this morning, and I wanted to point it out to you. I'm sure most of you reading this have seen it in your own communities, but I didn't really realize the importance of it until today.

Pat and his girls live right next door to us. The forge is situated in the back of what used to be my neighbor's back yard, and Pat lives close to avoid a long walk to work. So, this morning Pat and the girls came over, it being too wet and stormy out for him to work the forge, and for the girls to work at the farms. His thought was to come over and all of us play a board game or something together, just spend this lazy day as a family and enjoy each the company of loved ones.

I watched them walk out of their house, across the yard, and it hit me. I didn't think of it as my yard anymore. I didn't look at the divots of missing ground where my fence used to be and think "That's where the property line is". It was such a small thing, but the implications of it blew my mind.

I see people walking through yards all the time around here. There are plenty of roads to use, but many people prefer the straight line between points A and B. I've seen it hundreds of times, yet it was this morning that made me realize I've not once seen anyone get upset about it. No one tells people not to walk on their property, or yells at them not to step on the plants (mainly because it's second nature for all of us to avoid stepping on what will eventually be food).

Even our houses aren't the sanctums of isolation they once were. I mentioned the other day that people come and go through my house all the time, at all hours. It doesn't bother me or seem strange, and most other citizens feel the same way. We've seen each other near to pissing ourselves in terror, we've been huddled together for warmth and safety. Privacy and ownership just don't seem like very important concepts anymore.

Community does. That's why we fought so hard to take back the compound. Not because of what it is physically, but because of what it represents. Our home, OUR place. The piece of ground that all of us protect and grow food in. The spot where we chose as a group to make our stand, love our neighbors, and work together. We could have done that anywhere, but only as one people. We came back for the ones left behind, as many as we could keep alive.

As you know, that went well. We lost people, but nowhere near the numbers we expected. And where some folks from other places might have held a grudge for the relative freedom that refugees like me had when we escaped, I haven't seen it here. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, just that I haven't seen it. I've seen nothing but respect from those who have been here throughout all our troubles for those of us who escaped.

It's neat to see how a neighborhood changes when you take down all the barriers between the houses. No fences anywhere means that pretty much the whole place becomes something different. Just think about it. No delineation between properties means that what used to be isolated, individual little kingdoms have evolved into openly shared spaces. Houses are just houses again, places to sleep and eat and keep your stuff, sitting right in the middle of this giant shared space.

I dunno. The idea is so different to me from how I used to think of this neighborhood before The Fall and the zombie plague that I feel like I can't really do it justice. Like I said, it just blows me away that so many fiercely individual people can be so casual about sharing everything. It's great, and it makes me smile. Just wanted to share.

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