The font; the U.S. State; the homeland. to be desired? or was it Charlie’s knee-jerk reaction to his new status. He’d be getting a ‘check;’ in quotes because the Social Security Administration no longer issues such conveyances to retirees; Charlie’s benefit payment would ‘arrive’ electronically on the fourth Wednesday of each month; he could check the availability of these funds online, or simply insert his new Direct Express MasterCard into any ATM to receive the news.
What had been on Charlie’s mind, more or less constantly, since receiving that green debit card in the mail, was returning to Atlanta on a bus. for better than six years, Charlie had been living in a Men’s Shelter with a number of ‘down-and-out’ characters; he knew, from their responses to a mandatory survey taken at this ‘institution,’ that half of them had chemical dependencies. he also knew that half of them had been diagnosed with, or treated for, mental illnesses. Because there was some obvious overlap between these two groups, Charlie figured that there was at least the possibility that he belonged to neither.
He’d been thoroughly indoctrinated by now, and knew he should be praying for guidance, and listening for a still, small voice. he tried to conjure images of himself living in Atlanta on a fixed income that would place him firmly below the poverty level. He’d investigated some alternatives to leasing a private residence on the internet. His mind remained unclear on just what might be the consequences of boarding that bus bound for Atlanta, and felt that taking action under these circumstances could be a recipe for disaster. he was not hearing voices,… yet!
A few short years ago, he’d have been convinced that landing in a homeless shelter would be a disaster. It hadn’t been! not being required to work, not having to pay for housing or any of the other necessities & having all day to devote to reading popular fiction, just as if he was a man of leisure had changed Charlie. an income, that Charlie had been living rather comfortably without, now threatened to change him again! His thoughts on the matter remained ambiguous, but he felt that there were options to be considered here, that had not yet presented themselves. this somewhat emotional state had Charlie on the lookout for just such an opportunity; a vulnerable state, not unlike encountering a precipice in total darkness. this state of affairs did not scare Charlie; and that is what scared him the most!
Charlie got to looking around for some of those options that might be available to him, and came across a listing for communes that he could contact via e-mail. One was located fairly close to where he has been living in Roanoke; a goat-breeding operation in the mountain town of Damascus. Charlie began trying to imagine waking up to a sunrise bursting with color; imagine standing next to some new friends that actually love him; all willing to support his embarking on a journey that was his life, and now a part of theirs as well. he dreamed that their communal breakfast, had been made with lots of love, and strictly from products grown and raised right outside the door. In that ideal environment ‘work’ was not a four-letter word, but a fresh opportunity to explore the new world around him; to learn something new to him. sure, those days would sometimes be long ones; hard too, when the entire community was needed to fill their barns with new mown hay; or when those she-goats commenced to dropping their kids at any ungodly time of night. But when that tiny season has passed, there’d be time to marvel at the way he and all the others had pitched in to get them all through whatever difficulty presented itself; a comfortably shared sense of accomplishment that was pretty much lacking in all those death marches he’d survived in that other life.
The literature says that they all have an equal say in what goes on in their tiny self-contained community. their belief is that everyone holds his piece of the truth; that it is important to strive towards a balance of differing ideas and perspectives because the outcome is a better one. could it be that decisions made as part of a shared process are better decisions? A basic framework of trust and honesty cementing this community; caring about one another, and about the earth they work; striving together to determine how best they all fit into the wider community; well this would certainly be something Charlie had never seen tried before! he was thinking he’d like to give this a try; thinking he could’ve avoided some of what he’d been through recently, if such a plan could have been hit upon when he was a bit younger.
For Charlie, and for most Americans he’d guessed, the very word commune had attached to it some evil portent; domestic propaganda had done its job well during those cold War years. Marketers for these programs, that dominate within those returns from Charlie’s various searches, have hit on a more pleasing term for this variety of lifestyle choice; like all the other ‘hot buttons’ on the internet, intentional communities has accreted unto itself a large number of alternatives that have nothing at all to do with pooling financial resources. these groups with shared intentions were being lured into half-baked development schemes, and what was being said about them was emanating from a highly-paid group of ‘social-writers’ that had been co-opted by the money behind all the sub-standard[experimental construction] and well below par-value constructions[earth friendly & off the grid], to create that domination of the medium that made it virtually impossible to fnd out what was going on inside these communes.
Charlie’s ‘quixotic nature’ was percieving in all this a conspiracy of evil-doers; inside he felt his own intention gathering strength and definition. there were victims out there somewhere; perhaps his intrepid spirit could buoy him enough to go ‘inside’ and bring some of them out of their isolated and hopeless situation. Charlie likened this to Noah’s having constructed an ark among a people who’d never ‘seen’ the rain; a people who would heap upon him all the disdain that their thorough ‘brain-washing’ had created in them.
Buried deeply within all this ‘approved’ rhetoric, were the kinds of details that could coalesce into a strategy; reading ‘between the lines,’ and drawing the conclusions that the writers were actively obliterating with all that flowery prose, meant more research and reading a lot of fictive crap. Charlie just hoped there was enough time left to get the job done, and still be ready to depart on the twenty-fifth of April. Charlie was already counting down the days.
The literature Charlie had already studied ~communes located in Liberty, TN and in Damascus, VA~ had one common element he thought might be somehow important. these ‘tracts’ referred to other communes & like-minded folk in the neighborhood. One article saying that their choice of location had been because of this[stressing their integration into the wider community]; the other having mentioned that if there were no room on the ‘farm,’ that their may be opportunities available among their neighbors.
Charlie figured that when he came into that money, he’d just hop on a bus and go see what this neighborhood consisted of; get the lay of the land and find out first-hand what their minds were like.