Ever since we moved away from my hometown, I have been searching for a sense of community in Carlsbad. I’m home with Baby J all day, and James works from home, so we don’t see many people out and about except retirees, stay at home moms and tourists. It’s hard to be separated from the daily bustle; sometimes I question if the move here has just made us outsiders.

As luck would have it, on a day when my mood was down, the power went out. Baby J and I had planned to walk to the village to get new keys made. Of course, they couldn’t make keys without power. So instead, we walked into the fancy chocolate shop and bought giant chocolate covered s’mores. We had to pay cash, and I think the cashier may have just pocketed the money because there was no record.

We sat out on the grass by the railroad tracks, listening to homeless people talk. They weren’t affected by the power outage, because they don’t usually live with power. They are always just sitting there playing the guitar or talking to one guy’s parrots. What a sense of community they have, to agree on that grass area as a meeting place and feel as comfortable as you would on your couch. When you are without a home to hide in, you rely on other people for your entertainment.

We took the power outage as an opportunity to find our new community. We took a dip in the apartment pool with the neighbor kids, and walked out to the grass by the beach to watch the sunset. Since most people had left work early and couldn’t stay inside and watch TV, they were actually outside. As the sun dipped into the ocean, I was reminded that it used to be our only source of power. Here we were, gathered around the one thing we all share, the sun.

No matter where you are, how isolated you feel, you will always have something in common with your fellow human. It takes a disconnect from normal life to tell us that we actually live among other people. As that commercial says, “Disconnect to Connect.”

I gave Baby J a bath by candlelight, and put her to bed in the darkest house she had seen yet. By flashlight that night, I was reading You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World. The world had seemed smaller that day. Even if I don’t find my community right way, I’m sure I belong somewhere — just like the fakaleiti in Tonga or the Tolkienists in Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately, just as I was reveling in the quiet, my downstairs neighbor got his loud generator working and turned on the football game. I guess we create communities in our own ways.

Photo by wsilver