Just after Beatrix was born, I bought a skein of J. Knits Superwash Me Light Sock yarn in the Newburyport color. It was most certainly an impulse buy, driven both by post-partum boredom and nostalgia for the time I spent in Newburyport as a teenager. My boarding school was a few miles outside of Newburyport and the school ran Saturday morning vans into town. I’ve been thinking a lot about the old school lately, in part because my 10th reunion is coming up this June but there’s more to it. I must say that my greatest disappointment with adult life is the incredible lack of community in my life. By this, I do not mean friends. I mean community. Let me explain by telling you a little bit about this school.
Every Saturday night, the headmaster and his wife would open their home to students, faculty and faculty families. There were pool and ping pong tables in the basement, a game or a movie on the television in the den, an informal chess tournament, lots of board and card games and a piano in the living room and a bridge game at 9 p.m. The food was a teenage treat as well: ice cream, chips, nachos and all the soda one could consume. There may also have been weekly bets as to whether my freshly charred baked chocolate chip cookies would bring the fire department but that is a story for another day. Nevertheless, Open House was a chance for people to relax after a grueling week, to catch up with friends and to spend time together.
Looking back on it, some of the most important lessons I have learned came from Saturday Open House. At the time, I valued being with friends. What I think is even more valuable now is the time I spent with people who were not my friends: faculty, acquaintances and even declared enemies! I think it is a very humanizing experience to sit around a table with people who are not close friends and have frank, honest discussions about life, the universe and everything. In fact, I believe these sorts of encounters formed the basis of the school’s strong community spirit. They are most certainly what I find lacking in my life today.
Would it even be possible to recreate Open House in a non-campus environment? I have my doubts. Most likely, it would involve cars, planning and the Midwestern bringing of casseroles – in other words, it would be just another party. A community supper might be another idea – and one that my garden could support, at that. I wonder if a supper could ever reach a critical mass, however. Still, neither is the same as walking in your neighbor’s back door, kicking off your shoes and grabbing a bite to eat before jumping into a bridge game.
What do you think? Do you keep any community traditions? Is Open House worth trying to recreate or is it something that should be left alone? Discuss!
Oh yeah, socks. They’re done, I’m happy with them and you should all go buy J. Knits. Specs below.
Yarn: J. Knits Superwash Me Light Sock (550 yards/skein!) in “Newburyport”
Needles: US 0
Even though these were knit on size 0s, I loved knitting these socks! The yarn was just wonderful. I have enough yarn left over for another knee sock! J. Knits = great yardage for big feet.