Sunday, May 25, 2008

The contradiction of "community"

More than a year ago, I wrote about the lack of community - more accurately, a lack of connection to any of our nearby neighbors in our old apartment building.

We lived there several years; in our building, there were 14 apartments. Turnover was moderate.

In that time, I can think of eight people we acquainted with on any sort of level. (That doesn't count the one-time idiots below us, who insisted on blaring music on Christmas day a few years ago while we tried to enjoy dinner with my parents and my aunt and uncle. I pounded on their door, twice, with all I could. I guess they couldn't hear me over that damn music.)

In less than a month at our new place, we already have some sort of acquaintance with six.

It's strange that when people were so closely packed together, as we were in the apartments, there was zero sense of community. Now that we have bigger houses and a lot fewer people we share a wall with, we have people who come to greet us.

I have a couple of theories that I'd love to share, but one wonders how they'll be construed by the wider internets. Rather than risk it - a small risk, as there's nothing mean-spirited or otherwise derisive about it - I'll just keep them to myself.

To me, though, it just seems an interesting juxtaposition.

-- COUNTERCULTURE, SQUARED: As we moved the final items out of the apartment this afternoon, we stopped at Taco Bell for some quick dinner. While we were there, a guy came in with some friends; he had a green-tipped mohawk. A spiky one at that.

I mentioned to my wife that back in college, we had a saying for that sort of moment (that, unlike above, is completely derisive in both tone and content). It's an "Awww, Notice Me" moment, though words on a screen don't convey how snarky it sounds.

If, I told her, he really cared about being countercultured, he wouldn't care how he looked. Our society praises appearance as much as anything; the one respite, it seems, is complete visual slobbery. But isn't it rather contradictory to, on one hand, flaunt society's norms, yet somehow spend (what I assume is) an inordinate amount of time preening in front of the mirror, making sure each hair is straight up and colored green at just the right spot? Somewhere, Paul Mitchell beams with pride.

But you know what they say about the ends and the means...

He made his statement.

We chuckled to ourselves and kept eating.

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