Monday, January 5, 2015

I Had to Drop Out of High School and Live on a Hippie Commune to Learn the Meaning of Community

It was the summer of 2004. Disturbing pictures from Abu Ghraib surfaced. Ronald Reagan died. George W. Bush was still in office, and hurtling towards reelection. I was still seventeen, and I had just dropped out of a prestigious all-girls preparatory school. My mother and I began mending the fences we’d knocked down in the two years before, mainly by getting involved in local politics. We spent a lot of time together going to activist meetings, especially those held by the local chapter of a controversial environmental organization.

Things had never been better between us, but the rest of my life was rapidly shifting and changing. My longest, deepest friendship was starting to tear apart. I’d lost a lot of other friends by leaving school, and the ones I had left didn’t always feel like the best fit. I loved them dearly, but I often felt that they were too conservative, or didn’t think enough about the important issues. They were tired of my rants about George Bush, about vegetarianism, about which gas station was the lesser evil when you needed to fill up your tank. I was a bit of an insufferable nag, it’s true, but I was egged on in part by how resistant my friends were to considering any of the viewpoints I held dear.

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