One of the goals I have in writing this blog is to depict what life in a tiny caravan in an intentional community is like. What is different about living in such a small space? In having a kitchen with no running water? In having to walk outside to go to the bathroom? How is my daily life different living with 17 people? Making decisions in an intentional community? Living next to (and being part of) an autonomous center? It’s too many questions to tackle all at once, but every once in a while I like to describe an average day so that anyone who has never visited a Wagenplatz or lived in an intentional community can try on the glass slippers. For a really detailed description of the ins and outs of life here, you can also read my Marauder’s Guide to Wagenplätze.
It is hard to really depict an average day because my days are all so different. Some days I spend hours wandering around town. Some days I work for a publishing company in Frankfurt (currently from home shaBAM!). Back when I was still allowed to lift things I spent a lot of time doing various projects outside or hauling things to and from the big university trash area a few blocks away. At the moment things are extremely relaxed, and though I really miss working my regular two days a week (I’m down to 4 hours a week at the moment because of some ridiculous bullshit involving getting on the Beard’s insurance policy), I’m enjoying the time it gives me to relax, write, and enjoy the pregnant calm before the baby storm.
so it goes
I wake up around 9 am, and lay in bed contemplating the coming day. A Monday. Hunger eventually drives me out from beneath the covers. The clothes I wore Sunday are hanging on the curtain rod between the closet and bed. I smell them, decide they’ll do, and put them back on, admiring how round my belly has become in the mirror as I do so. On the way out the door I grab the large blue pot (dumpster dived!) I use as a night time chamber pot and empty it in the bushes. Squatting beside the garden I take a piss and remind myself that I really need to get around to clearing out the weeds that have taken over the entire bed.
In my trailer I pour oats in one of my favorite brown bowls (flea market woo!), then cut up an apricot and add it to the mix. I grab a book, an empty cup, and the bowl and head to the kitchen next door—my milk lives in the refridgerator there. With milk in my glass and bowl I walk to the center of the Wagenplatz, close the large umbrella blocking the morning sun from the picnic table, and eat breakfast. I usually mean to read and end up watching the chickens instead.
People walk past on their way to the bathroom trailer and say good morning; others arrive with their own books and coffee and join me at the table. We bullshit and read, read and bullshit. The biggest topic of conversation at the moment is where the Beard and I are going to be able to move our trailers so that we can be away from the noise of the house (that autonomous center I mentioned) when the baby arrives in February. Eventually I get hungry again and head back to my trailer to make lunch and check my e-mail.
Lunch is shredded savoy cabbage fried in butter, two eggs fresh from the chicken coop, and three slices of bacon. I click around the internet while they cook on the single electric plate I use as a stove, then return to the picnic table at the center of the Platz to eat when they are finished. It’s getting hot now so someone puts the shade umbrella back up, and I head back into the cool of my trailer to write for a few hours.
The dishes are piling up, and my sense of smell remains too intense for any sort of jungle rot, so I let the dirty plates distract me and head back outside to grab the large metal bowl hanging on the outside wall and fill it up with hot water in the house kitchen. I carry it back to my trailer where I put on an audio book and wash the dirty dishes. Once clean, I lay them out to air dry on top of some (dumpster dived!) dish rags spread out on the counter. I empty out the water in the bushes (don’t worry, I buy dish soap designed for this, not chemical bomb soap) and hang the bowl back on the hook on the outside wall. Something still smells funny in the kitchen, so I light a candle and sit back down at the computer. The windows and door are thrown wide open all day.
After another few hours I’m getting hungry again, so I hop on my bike and head to the next bakery to pick up some bread. In a little over five minutes I’m packing paper sacks of wheat and pretzel rolls into my backpack and splurging on am 80 cent donut. I’m still looking for a German donut that has actually earned that title. I stop at the supermarket on the way home to pick up olive oil and more apricots. I want to buy everything in the produce aisle, but convince myself that, yes, I will go dumpster diving tonight god damn it, and I don’t need to spend money on all this food. At home I eat, read, and write some more. I’ve been feeling the baby kicking off and on all day.
When I start getting tired I wipe down the counter with water and vinegar and haul my laptop into the other trailer. The Beard is on tour in Switzerland right now, and the enormous bed feels empty without him. When he’s around we usually read or watch an episode of the Simpsons before bed, but tonight I’m writing and piddling around on the internet instead. Someone knocks on the door and—holy shit—two musician friends from England who I thought maybe weren’t coming after all have just arrived. We chat and they head back to their van to cook dinner and relax, and I head back into the trailer to finish what I’m working on. I brush my teeth, spitting the foam out the front door and onto the stumps we use as steps, and ask myself: Will I go dumpster diving tonight?