the cat, the bathroom, and the robin phoenix

The grey tar paper on the rounded roof is speckled with tiny yellow leaves, and the cat is under the bed again.  She is grey and black and striped, and I do not know her name.

Drinking malt “coffee” out of a brown metal cup, or, more accurately, not drinking it because the contents have made the metal too hot to touch, I try to sum up our experience in this new community so far.  There will be a lot that I cannot say, questions I cannot answer.  Legalization has yet to occur.  I will have to be a lot more vague about the sort of things I usually write about in detail.  Sorry.

This morning while I was nursing Baby Pickles, the Beard lit the wood stove in the purple Wagen (I feel weird calling my Wagen, sweet little trash house, just “the kitchen,” so I think I will just revert to using colors) so it would be warm for me to write in now.  I didn’t hear him scream.  He had opened the wood stove door, he told me, and thought he saw a piece of unburnt wood inside.  So he reached in to grab it and came out with a robin.  Must have flown into the stove pipe and fallen in.  He brought it outside, and it flew away.  The robin phoenix!  The image feels pleasantly metaphorical.

I am settling into the rhythm of life here.  This group is far less cohesive, feels more like a coincidental neighborhood, though there are certain “lefty” principles still at work: consensus and solidarity and group meetings the like.  We’ve been here over a month, and I still haven’t met everyone who lives here.  I miss the group in Mainz, problems and all, but our space here has me smitten.  Our Wägen aren’t just meters away from the next neighbor (actually the next inhabited Wagen is, relatively speaking, quite a ways away), and come spring we can plant a nice lush lawn where Pickles can play.  And the best best best best bestest thing of all is that we no longer live near (practically on top of) an autonomous center where late, loud parties and concerts are happening several times a week.  I don’t miss that at all.

There is a house on this property, and what a house it is, but the dynamic is different, and our Wägen are far, far away.  This house also has concerts and a once-a-week vokü (volksküche or people’s kitchen, like a cafe version of Food Not Bombs), but people also live there and the entire space is in incredible shape.  People clean up after themselves and fix what is broken and care about keeping the guest sleeping spaces comfortable and clean.  It is a really pleasant change.

And the bathroom, oh the bathroom!  No longer do we share a bathroom with a venue.  See, in Mainz the bathroom for the Wagenplatz was (is) also the bathroom for the house, aka for the parties and the concerts and the vokü.  It gets consistently ravaged during parties, but is very inconsistently cleaned.  The shower, which was in a locked room on the upper level of the house (still talking about Mainz here), was functional, but in no way aesthetically enjoyable.  There was a large hole in the wall that opened onto spider webs and broken plaster.  The tiles were hideous.  It didn’t really matter, but I am a sucker for a good looking room or a comfy shower.

Here, the Wagenplatz has a little four-meter bathroom Wagen.  It is a bit of a hike to get there, but it is warm (heated with gas), with two bathroom stalls, a washing machine, and a really nice shower area.  The shower head is amazing.  There is warm water forever and ever, if you just want to sort of wastefully bask in it for a minute.  There are working sinks (in the shower area there is one set at an adult height, one at a kid height, as well as one by the toilets), and the cleaning rotation plan really works.  It’s the little things, you know?

2 Comments on “the cat, the bathroom, and the robin phoenix

  1. Wow, it sounds like a wonderful place and community. I love reading about your Wagenplatz life, it’s so interesting and sounds like something I would have done if I hadn’t settled into the life I have today. As it is, I agree with so many of your sentiments and have made my (albeit more traditional family home) out of mostly second-hand, hand-me-down, and found things as well. I think you wrote this in a previous post, how there’s so much pleasure to be found in looking around and having things surround you that were all hand picked and that tell a story. Please keep writing about this, it’s great to read!


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