Not as your leader, because we don’t have those here, but as the person who put up the entire down payment on this poorly irrigated tract of rural Wisconsin, it’s time to dissolve our utopian community before an NPR producer turns us into the subject of a hugely popular investigative podcast.
I’ll admit, our experiment began beautifully. There we were, 16 strangers watching the election at the only Bushwick glassblowing studio with a liquor license when our democracy was upended by an autocratic apricot. Tipsy on matcha-infused Baileys, I stood on a workbench bar counter (from the previous month’s West Elm catalogue) and proposed my vision for a new, egalitarian society rooted in dignity and sustainably instagrammable produce. You all cheered, including those of you who last week pushed to excommunicate me for drinking Soylent. “Soylent enacts violence against solid foods!” you chanted. I’m not sure how that’s true, or what you meant exactly, but it still hurt. A lot.
The problems started when we voted against building our tiny city atop a lush Connecticut hillside because “cities on hills are inherently problematic, and so is Connecticut.” As terrible luck would have it, the only remaining plot within our budget — correction, my budget — was the patch of rough midwestern soil we find ourselves on today, ground so repulsive it was abandoned by pig farmers. Not meeting the standards of animals that happily eat their own excrement should have been a deal-breaker. We know that now.
Tempers continued to flare during our inaugural constitutional congress. There were all-night screaming matches about how best to include the right to free speech while also completely forbidding words like “Alt-right” and “Fox” to avoid constant reminders of the evils we had left behind. While there aren’t any alt-rights in the wilderness, there are plenty of foxes and calling them “orange catdogs” has made us look foolish in front of the locals. More naïvely still, we assumed we had taken a progressive leap forward by giving residents the right to self-identify as whatever their hearts desired. It worked flawlessly until Philip’s heart desired to identify as Claire’s husband. This led Claire and her actual husband, Gary, to abandon our commune and return to gentrifying Crown Heights.
Outlawing money was another idea that was momentarily utopian at best. The barter system only works when people have varied and equally important skill sets; it tends to lose its utility when 16 people who work in “media” are all trying to trade “content” for sunchokes no one knows how to grow. In hindsight, it would have been wise to recruit horticulturists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and maybe even someone who knows how to setup a WiFi router. Oh, and we probably should have checked if our new address, “1 Intersectional Plaza,” was Amazon Prime-eligible. Waiting five business days for a LÄRABAR does not a modern-day Arcadia make.
Not to say this experience has been all bad. There have been moments of sheer joy, like when we figured out how to store rainwater by googling “how to store rainwater” at a nearby library. Yet silver linings can only sustain a group of people for so long; at some point, they start sneaking off to Panera for soup-sandwich combos and sink showers, right Philip? Don’t deny it, I caught a group of you playing soccer with a stale bread bowl this morning. At least it explains the mysterious rise in ankle sprains we’ve been seeing in the medbay, which is just a duct taped shack with printouts of outdated WebMD articles.
Assuming we make it back to Brooklyn and no AirBnb guests have claimed squatters’ rights to our apartments, we should try to remember the lessons we learned together. Remember that human beings are simply not equipped to survive on their wits alone and no amount of nature is an adequate substitute for Lexapro. Most importantly, the next time you want to secede from the union, remember the breadth of our failure here and go glamping instead.