Moscow Food Co-Op
Sixty-five miles from Moscow, and the orange light came on. Why hadn’t I gotten gas on the Interstate? I’d acted blasé about it. I’d traveled 1300 miles and taken for granted that I’d always find somewhere to refuel. I panicked because I hadn’t renewed my AAA card in two years. But that wouldn’t matter anyway, I’d run out of juice on my cellphone. No way to contact the outside world. I imagined myself awkwardly walking down the road to a single wide trailer surrounded by signs that said KEEP OUT! (and in this imaginary scenario I noticed they’d used an upside down ‘i’ as an exclamation point). But as I was rolling on fumes I thought, “Nobody just has a full gas can lying around their trailer.” Plus this baby takes 87, and you can only get 85 in these parts—-Then out of nowhere, an empty gas pump appeared in front of a gigantic propane tank. I pulled off the road and filled my tank. I would not spend my first night inadvertently camping on the Palouse.
At the Idaho state border, I took Instagram photos. I don’t really like taking photos, but I thought it important to document the moment where an idea of what something looks like becomes a reality. Border pictures seems like a popular pastime, because it was the only place on the highway with a turn off: “Free Parking for People who like Geographic Points of Interest, and Who May Be Starting a Temporary Intentional Community.”
After unpacking I went to the grocery store to buy staples: beans, bread, beer. I went to pay at the cashier, and glanced down at the newspaper. We were on the cover. I knew I’d given an interview, but I was surprised to see the paper in the flesh (paper is a kind of recycled tree flesh) right next to the section about high school sports wins. It said my name and called me a travel writer. This was the first time I’d ever arrived anywhere with this warm of a welcome. (I mean, once someone wrote a Facebook status that said they were excited to have me visit.)
I spent my first nights in Moscow sleeping in a tent in the living room. (Cuz I thought that would be fun.) I figured I’d be most comfortable in the room closest to the Anytime Fitness where I steal the internet from. It’s important to have that life line to your virtual life in case of emergency, or if you wake up in the middle of the night with a joke to tweet. (A constant internet connection is also good to be able to immediately erase that last joke.)
Everyone in town has been so friendly. Some new friends took me to a Co-op party where I let a goose bite my skin and realized that it was not as scary as I thought it was when I was a kid. At a bar I met scientists who thought it was funny that I still couldn’t get over the cheap drink prices. ($2.75 mixed drinks. $3.25 for “32 oz tubs” of beer.) I met with a Buddhist scholar who provided me with some good Summer Commune advice: “Instead of asking what you can do for Moscow, ask what Moscow can do for you.” People told me about how various cafes on different sides of Main Street are also on different sides of America’s “culture wars. Liberals get their espressos at One World, conservatives get cappuccinos at Bucer’s. This college town is a mirror of our larger society. The perfect destination for our Summer Commune.
Later in the week, friends from the internet passed through for a few nights en route to Glacier National Park. They’re filmmakers who said that this town would be a perfect place for a filmmaker to work on projects. If they had their own equipment, all they would need are actors. While they were here we recorded a rap song, a Summer Commune milestone. Stay tuned for the next Kid Sriracha + Boar$head + Sauerkraut In the Cabinet jam dropping soon.
This summer is full of endless potential, and it seems like we’ve picked a wonderful town to spend it. Excited for more communards to show up, so I can introduce them to the great people who already live here.
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni
This morning Summer Commune-er Josh Heller wrote an amusing but informative how-to guide to quitting your job and traveling the world:
“Would you ever be able to reenter the workforce? Would this affect your permanent record? Will you have to cancel your Match.com account? In a rare moment of slumber you have a dream that clarifies everything: There is no alternative to the life you want to live. You have to jump off the corporate ladder. And with a little planning this will all come together so easily.”
Here at Summer Commune, we really believe in Travel (with a capital T). We really believe everyone should do it. (We’re kind of travel evangelists.) We really believe that Travel is easier than lots of people think, and that it doesn’t have to mean spending thousands of dollars or traveling thousands of miles from the place where you live.
Travel isn’t only about destinations, it’s about new perspectives. “A wise traveler never despises his own country,” and that’s why the first of what we hope are many Summer Communes is right here in North America.
After spending time in Europe, Latin America, and SE Asia, we realized there was too much of our own country we hadn’t seen. And after spending a summer in Berlin and a winter in Colombia, we got a taste of freedom. We could work part time and still afford to live in cool neighborhoods. We could go out at night and still have time for our own creative projects during the day. And we wished that we could have that back in the USA.
What has come to be known as Summer Commune started with 2 people: We just wanted to live somewhere dope as shit, where we would never have to drive, and where the cost of living vibed with our paltry freelancer’s/graduate student’s salaries. New York, SF, and LA weren’t really viable candidates.
And now Moscow, Idaho—with its free public transport, endless miles of biking and walking paths, affordable rental properties, and the dope as shit community we’ll create for each other there—is looking like Paradise. We’re pretty excited.
If you’re newly funemployed or hate your job, then the timing is perfect. Think of Summer Commune as a buffer zone between your new-found freedom and the rest of the world. That $500 a month you’ll save on rent while you hang with us in Moscow this summer will last you like 2 months in Nicaragua. And if you still want to go to Bali (and you should!), spending the summer with us in Moscow will make the transition from familiar to foreign that much easier.
May the summer be endless,