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That Weekend Our Family Lived Like We Were Meant To

Photograph by Twenty20

"We're doing this wrong," I quickly blurted out to a friend before a show started we were out to see.

I don't know her that well and thought maybe I'd come off as annoyingly earnest. Instead, she looked at me with big brown eyes and said, "I know."

There we were, two moms, about to see a play, quickly trying to talk before being ushered into the silence of the theatre. We were talking about her husband's long commute.

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I brought up how we went camping with my son's Kindergarten class the weekend before. How the kids were overcome with joy over their freedom to ride bikes and roam from cabin to cabin. The parents all looked out for each other's kids.

It was a two-day nirvana.

I feel as if the days I'm living life right are few and far between. I mean, I'm a good citizen, friendly, I feed my family vegetables. We volunteer, donate, pay bills on time and have a great house. The loneliness that comes from being disconnected from community and nature is palpable.

"I think we cursed ourselves when we stole the land from the Native Americans," I said to my friend, thinking I really sounded like a douche now.

"Yes," she said, "Imagine if we had left them alone, what this place might be now."

As I type, my freshly painted nails are hitting the keyboard of my Mac. I'm going to use dry shampoo and then drive an hour across Los Angeles for an event tonight. I'm not saying I want to grow armpit hair down to my knees, but I do wish that we could live differently.

After our camping trip, the other parents and I commiserated. Well, some of us did. We talked about how we wish we could live like this. We'd give up our houses, downsize just to be next to each other and live on streets where the speed limit was 5 miles per hour so kids could freely roam.

I know in my gut my 9-year-old needs more independence. I know I've needed more afternoons spent with friends. Since when did having lunch with a girlfriend become something mocked? "Ladies who lunch" they call it. I barely know anyone who lunches.

"Let's go live off the grid," I said to my husband. He responded with the fact that people have tried it, but it gets complicated. The people are seen as social pariahs. Meanwhile, people stand around, locked into their phones. I'm always appreciative of those who make the effort to say hello to me or my kids.

There's a myth that the most important thing is your family. We need to look at this differently. I think it's important to try and extend the same amount of patience for other people, not just your teeny tiny family. In fact, I think this nuclear family idea is making us implode.

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While we went camping, a little boy cried to his mom when they returned. He wanted to go back. He also said, "Mom, I didn't play on my iPad once the entire weekend."

It was a weekend filled with unparalled joy.

Yes, vacations can be that way, but why should it end? There may be something more to it.

I can only hope as a society we head back to the way we used to live communally in the near future.

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Photographs: Lindsay Kavet

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