PAL is Your Pal

[This is a guest post by Trout from PAL-land.]

I enjoy my life at Twin Oaks.  I’ve been living here for over 6 years now, and from the first day I arrived as a visitor, I knew that I had arrived at my home (consequently, our welcome salutation to new members is “Welcome Home”).   I could probably write a book or two on all the things that have transpired in that time just in my life, but I’ll spare you the details.  In a line, the community, the landscape, has become part me, as I have become part of it.  And as time passes, the two of us become indiscernible to my eyes, as if our fates have become intertwined.


One of the beauties of our little community is that once you have served a year of membership, you are eligible for a one year, membership entitled, unpaid getaway we call PAL.  And when it’s up, you get to come back and pick up right where you left off.  As with anything at Twin Oaks, it’s a little more complicated than I would put it, but that’s the bare nuts of it.  So just when you feel like you’ve lost your identity in a sea of community, like your life has become insular and wonder if there’s anything else out beyond the line of trees past the orchard, or just want to prove to yourself that you can still make a living on your own–why not take a PAL?

I’ve heard several members say this is the key to a happy life at Twin Oaks—take advantage of the PAL whenever you are able.  Truth of the matter is that there are many other exciting experiences to be had in the world than the commune.  I think that being a good communard is great preparation for new and exciting experiences, and the more worldly experiences we bring back with us, the better the community is for it.  And though it is sad to see our friends leave, and a pain when the rest of us have to do their annoying jobs (PAL, by the way, is the quickest and easiest way to vacate that job you just can’t get rid of), it is overshadowed by the joy we feel when our friends return bright-eyed, hopeful, inspired and ready (hopefully) to take their jobs back.

So what do I do when I go on PAL?  Well, typically I take a 4 month work vacation to one of the coldest, most miserable places you can imagine, where you work 60 hours a week, where the internet is worse than the commune, where the M/F ratio is approximately 4/1, where the outside temperature doesn’t get much above -20F…you get the picture…The South Pole.  Fortunately this year I brought my sweetie Fox (Acorn) with me to this terrible place, so as bad as it might be for her, at least I have a 1/1 ratio now J

Also, from  LEF, Carrie is also on the ice in McMurdo, Antarctica (not nearly as miserable as South Pole).  I like to think of us as Central Virginia’s Egalitarian Delegation to Antarctica.


Carrie (LEF), Trout (Twin Oaks), Fox (Acorn) left to right.  McMurdo, Antarctica

We, of course, will travel when this nasty business is over, but I miss home every day.  I love knowing that it will be waiting for me when I get back again.