I remember the first time I visited Emerson Commons.
I remember thinking, "Yes! We found our home!" Since 2014, my wife (Anna), our daughter (Ezra), and I had been renting an apartment in Takoma Village Cohousing in Washington, DC, searching for a cohousing community in which to buy our first home.
As a certified city-dweller, I also remember thinking "I can't believe how amazing this property is! A creek and a pool and a view of the mountain!"
I'm sure I had a bunch of other exclamation-filled thoughts on that first day, too.
But there's one thing I'm pretty sure I did not think. I did not think, "You know what? Two families, each with kids, each with pets, could totally live in the common house together while these houses get built. That's so obvious. We should find other city-dwellers to live with us, people who won't be put off by our total ignorance of home construction, land use, and basic table manners, in large part because they, too, seem to be totally oblivious to these types of things. That would make a ton of sense and be really easy."
And yet, here we are.
In between that first visit and today, Peter floated the idea that our cohousing experience and immediate need for housing might present a great opportunity for Emerson Commons. Would we be interested in living in the common house? We were thrilled to have our daughter start going to Crozet Elementary right away, and jumped at the chance. (If I'm still allowed to blog after this post, I'll share more about how much we love that school.) The more we thought about moving into the common house, though, the more we wanted it to feel like part of building the larger community. Couldn't the common house be home to other Emerson Commons members? We reached out to Laura and Steve, and their sons Heath and Sullivan. I think our first conversation went something like this:
"Shouldn't we all live in the common house together?"
"You're saying 'shouldn't' like 'we shouldn't,' right? Like we should not. Should not we live in the common house."
"Yeah, no, I know! It was a joke! Total joke. No way would we do that."
"Dad, can we watch a movie tonight?"
"THIS IS A SERIOUS CONVERSATION THIS IS NOT ABOUT WATCHING MOVIES!"
[Babies crying, mild commotion, slow return to calm]
"What were we talking about?
"Living in the common house together."
"Oh. Totally. We're in. Seven people? Seven beds. Duh. No need to even visit again and think about how we would do it. No brainer. Let's just e-mail each other until we stop thinking about it."
By the end of April, we were all moved in, and we love it. We think.
At some point last week, once we stopped being so awkward, we decided that we should share some of our experiences on the Emerson Commons blog. Our hope is that in addition to Peter's musings on cohousing and Emerson Commons' members' posts about their own paths to Crozet, we can provide a semi-frequent dispatch from the common house, as we navigate the move from the big city, watch our homes get built, and try to figure out which dining room to use for which meal. And keep a few chickens. And make sure the frog in that picture has been set free.