Why I’m Leaving Cohousing . . . Again
In my line of work, I’m often asked how a person can tell if cohousing is right for them. The best answer I have is this: People thrive in cohousing when they value the benefits of community life more than they value whatever they have to give up to get it.
You won’t be surprised that I see lots of benefits to community life and value them highly. I love watching children play on the path outside my kitchen window. I love the spontaneous conversations that happen as I step outside my door. I love being surrounded by amazing, generous, and compassionate people.
My cohousing communities, both the one I didn’t live in any more and the one I didn’t live in yet, supported me through the loss of my son in ways that even my closest long term friends could not. Sharing space and everyday life creates opportunities to be there for each other that nothing else does. I really love living in community.
The trouble is that I also love living in the natural beauty of my childhood. The salt air and gentle waves of the Puget Sound, the evergreens and madronas, and the eagles soaring overhead call me home. The colorful sunsets and dancing clouds soothe my soul. I was wise to scatter my son’s ashes in a setting that has held peace and joy for my family through two childhoods, mine and my children’s. On good days I love this land. On bad days, I need it.
That small town is where I met the love of my life, where we bonded, where we married against a backdrop of islands and sky.
The decision to move into River Song was a hard one. I’d worked with this community and I knew they held the values I treasure in cohousing. We knew we would learn a lot from community life and we wanted to try it together. The dilemma was that we also really loved the place where we were. It was a close call and we wavered a good bit even after we’d committed to River Song. We decided that community was a priority and we told ourselves we could always come back if River Song didn’t work out.
As it happens, River Song did work out. There have been bumpy bits, of course, but nothing has changed in our very positive opinion of our neighbors. The problem is that Eugene, where River Song is located, has a climate and landscape that doesn’t work for us. The winter is gray and damp. We miss the rain shadow and frequent bright sun we were used to. Worse, my husband’s past depression began to come back. We needed the solace of the sea, and it was too far away.
The first time I left cohousing it was to move across the country to return to my homeland. This time the distance is less, but the draw is much the same. I love community life, but there is something else I need more.
Will I live in cohousing again? I hope so. Meanwhile, I will soak up all the community and connection I can in the few months we have left at River Song and work to build community in whatever form I can wherever I am.
It turns out that even when cohousing is very much the right thing, it may not be in the right place at the right time. For those who have built it or found it, treasure it all the more for everyone who hasn’t yet. If you haven’t, there is a home available at River Song surrounded by the best neighbors you will ever find.
Category: Living in Cohousing
Tags: choosing cohousing, community, Community support, Connecting, living in cohousing