I've always been enthralled with communities and seeing how people "really" live, when they aren't aware they are being watched, or when they are so comfortable with their surroundings that they forget to hide the little quirks that make up the wonderment and dysfunction that we all have.
I've always been more of an off the beaten path kind of kid-would rather drive around neighborhoods or eat in places only the locals know about-simply so I can watch with sponge-like eyes, soaking up all the human behavior.
On a trip to Pennsylvania as a child, I remember flopping down on a bench, exasperated and sad about the "Model" Amish Village they had set up. An uncle of mine asked around and ended up driving us through Amish Country, following wagons and waving at the locals. It was, to date, one of my favorite vacations.
I studied Criminal Justice in college because I am also enamored with deviance. I thought about working with troubled yutes and studied gangs and graffiti. When I transferred to UCF in Florida, my focus shifted to the Mafia. I love the mafia. Their brotherhood-loyalty-their secret society and their power.
Yes. I love communities-normal or dysfunctional, I love sitting back and watching them unfold.
As mentioned in yesterday's post, I love the Mole People. They are the homeless men, women and children who have taken to living underground in the subway and train tunnels in NYC.
The Mole People is a book by Jennifer Toth. Though it's not as much as a story as I would like, I am finding it fascinating to read about the way communities form, relationships evolve and lives are lived-all underground.
It amazes me that these people-said to be 5000 strong and growing-live sight unseen for the most part, surviving with nothing more than a box or a blanket and a hole in the wall. Others, however, create homes in their cubbies, filling them with furniture, pictures and beds. In some cases, they even have clean water from broken pipes and light to read in.
In the book, the author goes underground as an outsider-that is, she did not try to pretend to be homeless. She interviews members of the community, trying to find out who they are. Throughout the book, it's very clear that they appreciate the fact that she is not trying to rehabilitate them or make them leave their homes-she simply wants to understand who they are and why they are there.
The Mole People fascinate me and they make me think about how lucky I am to have my small little house in the burbs, living free of addiction and mental illness. It also makes me realize how weak and pampered I am-that one day in the tunnels would probably be my undoing...I'm not sure I could bounce back after tunnel life.