i don’t really want a community

i haven’t written here in so long that the wordpress website got kicked off my cache of most-frequented websites. even more shameful, internet solitaire replaced it.

august was something of a lost month. i enjoyed my last few weeks of spinster summer by hanging out in a truck pool, going to some punk shows, going dancing, getting drunk a lot, kicking back on the front porch listening to blue oyster cult, & signing up for a 6:30am water aerobics class. i read three books all month. usually i read a book a day, on average.

i may have mentioned previously that i keep a daily log–a diary, i guess? if we are using the old-fashioned definitions of “diary” (a book in which you write down what you do) & “journal” (a book in which you write down how you feel). i keep both, actually, but i’m a lot more devoted to the diary. i actually take notes on what i do every day so i can transcribe them as stories in the diary. which often strikes me as ridiculous because i am not exactly a lion tamer or a bomb defusing technician. the sentence “i cleaned the bathroom today” appears in my diary with surprising frequency.

anyway, i really fell behind in writing up my days during spinster summer, & after jared got back, i even stopped keeping my daily notes. today was the first really perfect day we’ve had in lawrence in months–perfect weather for putting on jeans & a hoodie & sitting outside somewhere, writing. so i went outside & tried to catch up on the diary entries for the days for which i did not have notes. the shitty part is that the reason i didn’t bother taking notes is because i was too fucking anxious, depressed, & miserable. the last few weeks of august were some of the worst weeks of my entire life. possibly flying out to ohio to attend to the details surrounding my dad dying, which culminated in me having a vaso vagal episode & needing to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance in front of the already-traumatized four-year-old my mom babysat for at the time was worse…but only slightly. i feel that the worst is behind me at this point, but i had to relive it to write about it & i managed to thoroughly bum myself out.

& you know how it is when you’re bummed out, especially about something that is kind of a non-issue. you kind of start looking for other reasons to be bummed out. i didn’t have to look too far to get kind of bummed out by some friend issues. i have a friend in lawrence who is really hating on lawrence right now. luckily for her, she is also making plans to move away to another city. unluckily for me, this means she feels totally free to talk at length about how much lawrence & almost everyone in it blows. i am likely to be living here for at least another couple of years & i really want to try to make the most of it, so this isn’t really my favorite topic of conversation. plus, you know, there are some people in this general area that i really like. i have had some really good times here recently (see above: truck pools, punk shows, etc).

when i mentioned this, she said, “of course you don’t mind lawrence. everything worked out for you. you moved here, everyone likes you. you have a community.”

i feel like there’s so much wrong with this statement. everything most certainly did not “work out” for me. allow me to present the evidence: I LIVE IN FUCKING KANSAS. in what world can that be construed as “working out” in any way? i am just trying to make the best of a pretty shitty situation here.

second, i guarantee that not everyone likes me. never in my life have i ever been in any situation where everyone liked me. unless maybe i have been sitting in a room all by myself. i didn’t get this far in life without realizing at some point that i have a very divisive personality. some people love me, some people hate me. there are plenty of people in lawrence who fucking hate me. just because i don’t care doesn’t mean that anyone should be laboring under the delusion that i am universally feted & that the mayor is making plans for a ciara day parade…though i imagine a ciara day parade would look a lot like this:

& third, there is a world of difference between “everyone” (or even just some people) “liking” someone & that person having a community. i wrote quite a bit in “love letters to monsters” #3 about how i don’t even really believe in the concept of “community” (as employed by punk/activist types) anymore. everyone seems to use that word to mean something different. some people think that a person has community if they have people they can call up & freak out to at 3am. that doesn’t apply to me because i’m kind of beyond the stage in my life where i am going to call anyone at 3am unless it is a pretty serious fucking emergency, & then i’d probably be calling 911 or something. some people think that a person has community if they have some friends to bro down with at a show or something. but you can bro down with a fleeting acquaintance in a social setting just as easily as you can with someone who has vowed to have your back for life.

i think a lot of people confuse “having community” with “having friends,” with the caveat that once you have turned said friends into the mythical community, you get to…stop trying or something. but all relationships require effort. i have friends i’ve been tight with for over ten years & i still have to work a lot of times to make time for them, see their points of view, etc. & with the kids in lawrence that i “have community with,” it’s even harder because they are newer friends. & they are younger friends. they are still in that stage of life where the think it counts as “hanging out” if they randomly bump into me on the street when i’m out buying stamps. i like a little more intention in my relationships, personally. these are kids that don’t reliably answer their phones or return texts, & with whom i have spent far more time drunk than sober. they are very wonderful, funny, entertaining, sweet, helpful, thoughtful, interesting people…they are friends. new friends. with whom i am still finding my feet. “community” makes me think of shit like co-counseling (ugh) & accountability processes &…well, jared put it best when he said, “the difference between friends & community is that community is still there even after it decides it doesn’t like you as a person.” i don’t expect anyone to stick around after they’ve decided they don’t like me as a person, so let’s just be friends, okay?

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

3 thoughts on “i don’t really want a community

  1. I feel you on the detailing of mundane things in ones diary. I personally have a lot of sentences that are like, “Yesterday I woke up late, did some internets, made some breakfast…”, etc. I actually need to write everything that I did down in order to remember anything, so it’s pretty important. The person to whom I bequeath my journals when I die will probably curse my name at the inanity of most of the information. I’ll splash some color in there once in a while, maybe some sex here or a drawing there. Mostly me cleaning my room & eating food, though.

    1. there’s actually kind of a lot of exciting shit in my diary. i just have this weird neurosis where i feel that anything eventful is fleeting & therefore irrelevant. i mean, i put it in there, but i still think of myself as a pretty boring person (life-wise, not personality-wise). most interesting stuff that happens is shit i think of as super private (like relationship stuff), so i’m not public about it. which is probably a blessing for most people.

  2. The thing I find difficult about community, radical or worse, arts, is they feel insular, almost suffocating sometimes, with a severe lack of diversity. There’s all this weird, and to me, unfamiliar peer pressure (what an old-fashioned term, showing my age – 30). I went to a large, “disadvantaged” highschool but it was really diverse. I was a punk kid, for want of a better term, but I wasn’t at all disengaged from non-punk kids. You don’t have to like everyone but there’s a value and freedom in having lots of different people around and engaged with each other. Anyway.

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