When I accepted JSC’s offer to join their 2020-21 cohort only two days after First Offer Friday, I did so with a deeply rooted certainty that this was the place meant for me. The sense of rightness, of fitting, was resolute, even as some anxieties began to sprout like weeds in my mind, particularly about intentional community. I’ve always been an introvert, finding true rest in the sanctuary of my room, while experiences in my adolescence resulted in a reserved nature, a sense of selectiveness in how close I let others, in the interest of self-preservation.
I knew even before I drove the 800 miles from Alabama to North Carolina that moving in the Carrboro House and sharing this home with others would challenge me. I saw intentional community as the greatest challenge for me because of my nature and history. Half of my time in college I lived alone, and the other half I lived with my cousin as my roommate. Sharing a living space with family is different from sharing space in an intentional community. When I roomed with my cousin, eighteen years of history, filled with love and memories of all the years we spent exploring the creek behind her parents’ house and watching Stick It on a portable DVD player in the car, served as the foundation of how we lived together. Any annoyances over missed dish duty could be easily resolved because we knew each other. We loved each other and that superseded any inevitable conflict.
When I moved into Carrboro House, I moved into it knowing I would share this space with three other Corps members, who were mostly strangers I hadn’t met in person yet. There would be no history, no memories to help soothe over the conflicts. I knew very little about my housemates, as there is only so much you can share in the limited time of a Zoom breakout room. The one certain thing I knew is that, like me, they agreed to commit to this intentional community, and it continues to be quite the commitment in a pandemic.
In retrospect, I’ve realized just how uniquely our community has come together in these months of quarantine. It’s been stressful, I won’t lie; anxieties continue to run rampant even with a vaccine. I’ve found that even though the pandemic is a stressor, undeniably, it’s a unifier. Even before moving in and meeting each other in person, my housemates and I had to discuss openly and plainly what steps we would take to prioritize our health and protect each other. The sense of we, a collective, a unit, a community, quickly formed when faced with this frankly terrifying outside conflict. This situation made it simultaneously easier and harder to form an intentional community. Our community is a constant effort, every week and every day we do our best to uphold the covenant we created together. Our best is all we have, and it is enough.