I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately, due in part to a few projects debuting with the same concern, and because everybody seems to have it on the mind as winter draws closer and closer. I always have this feeling, this time of year, as my “community” or what I can viably consider community, shrinks.
Not having a car and relying on public transport (and my trusty bicycle Claire) is all well and good in the summer. Walking four or five blocks to the nearest stop isn’t an issue, and buses run fairly regularily. Most everything I need is within at least biking distance, and groceries (which, honestly, are the only other essential after shelter) are within 2 blocks. But come winter, when that 5 blocks away is also through feet of snow, the buses are erratic at best and Claire is stabled for the winter, that which I can concretely call my community shrinks to about a three block radius. (This includes, however, school, which no amount of bad road clearing etc can keep me from.)
Of course, my virtual community is much wider – I have the blogospere, e-mail, instant messaging and whatnot, Facebook.. so on and so forth. But while these no doubt provide (as my prof is wont to say) the simulacrum of contact and community, really, my community is made up of my apartment building, and primarily J. I really have little to no problem with this – while I do tend to get a little cabin fever around February as our temperatures are plumetting and I go to school in the dark and get home in the dark.. and there are a scant few hours in between.. It’s not that bad. There is some sort of strange metaphysical community that manifests itself here in the winter I think, that is conducted through the snow, through the layers of jackets, through the fact that physical contact with others is almost non-existent.. They become thier own conductors. I firmly believe that in choosing to be here, we recognize in others that same choice, to stay through it, through the cold and the wind and windchill and so on.. Maybe it’s like being in an abusive relationship, but we’re all here, battered and bruised and mostly frozen, together.
It also seems to shed light on the incredible creativity that explodes in this city..in this country.. come spring (and maybe, coincedentally, the huge coming together of our youthfully exuberant and STB propagating youngsters). Our snow-latent communities bloom in festivals and art and dancing and music, most, I assume, curated and perfected through the snowy months. I know that when I finally make my album in the the egg cartoned bathroom studio, it will be in the winter. But I’ll show it to everyone come spring.
It doesn’t mean that individually we are any less insane for living here. I have been in Saskatchewan and absolutely dwarfed and panicking under the 360 degrees of sky, I have been driven momentarily insane by the incessant howling wind. We all have, and it ends up being a sort of a geographical tautology. If we are all crazy and stay, then staying and crazy loose all meaning. And then I guess we’re just.. Canadian.