Every book is for someone. The act of writing may be solitary, but it is always a reach toward another person – a single person – since every book is read alone. The writer does not know for whom she writes. The reader’s face is invisible, and yet, every sentence inscribed on a page represents a bid for contact and hope for understanding.
- Siri Hustvedt, Living, Thinking, Looking
This week I am writing for Martha, Rose, Gail, David, and Julio – or at least with them in mind.
David and Julio came to visit on Saturday. They arrived mid-afternoon. We sat talking about one thing and then another. Before I knew it, three hours had passed and we needed to re-arrange our dinner reservations because we were 30 minutes away from getting there, but had two minutes to do so. Work, friendship, art, age, fashion, families – these were all on the table for conversation. But they were only appetizers for what we would have at dinner.
David drove, even though that would mean he would travel seven miles downtown and seven more to take me home, only to go by a different route that distance and more to Chicago, their home. I asked if that is what they wanted to do, then acquiesced when Julio said, “Yes.” We all understood. I have been alone more often than I am used to since my husband died.
At dinner, conversation continued like before, time slipping away. Three hours later we pulled away from that table. Julio and David talked about Paul and me and us as a couple. They asked questions, open-ended ones, and let my answers hang in the air until I would add more. They heard about my daily missing and my growing missing. They heard about the surprises, too: tensing muscles to reach for my phone to call Paul and share some thought, only to realize that the synapses for movement fired before the fact of his death could be recalled.
Sprinkled through the afternoon and evening was talk for the mind and for the heart. Julio shared deeper thinking about racism, ageism, and gay oppression than I had heard in months. He reflected on the gay rights movement and on concerns for its undoing. Minutes after I said that I’d like to have him do more public speaking, we were all chatting about spending sprees on closet organizers and sale shoes.
These husbands visiting a husband did not happen by chance. Our lives are filled to the brim with work and duty. There was intent here. Their intent: to witness and to hold in their visit my broken heartedness. Mine: to surrender among men my need to go on.
An intentional community is a planned group that is designed from the start to be cohesive and to foster that through teamwork. Typically intentional communities share responsibilities and resources. Partnership is important in intentional communities, but these partnerships tend to operate at higher orders of cooperation and collaboration than in many other forms of community.
The contracts of intentional communities are often written on paper, but they can be written in the air of a room filled with trust and candor.