Last week, four deeply connected couples embarked on a week-long vacation to Sonoma, the heartland of wine country. Sharing a history spanning two decades and a friendship sparked by a shared journey of parenthood and Girl Scouts, we ventured west to unwind and savor the closeness we’ve cultivated over the years. Our girls were in Girl Scouts together. My daughter is still roommates with one of the couple’s daughters over twenty years later.
The lush vineyards of Sonoma draped around our rented haven—a spacious five-bedroom house where each couple claimed a personal suite, a cocoon within our shared sanctuary. The house was our stage, and we alternated roles each day, partaking in shared responsibilities like a well-rehearsed performance. The home is only a mile from the Korbel winery, an estate built many years ago for the Korbel family.
We ate dinner in Sonoma’s vibrant culinary scene only three times in seven days. The rest of our meals were home-cooked affairs. Each couple had a designated evening to showcase their culinary talents, nurturing the group with their chosen dishes. A sense of community was palpable each day, whether we were relishing lunch under the Californian sun or making our ritualistic pilgrimage to In-N-Out Burger. We had to have In-N-Out Burger at least one time while out west. We shared in the grocery shopping, each person buying what we felt the group needed and tossing the receipts into a bowl to be divided equally at the end of the trip.
Household chores were shared too, divided equally among us, devoid of the monotony that usually accompanies such tasks. Grocery runs were communal experiences marked by the joy of discovery and shared decision-making.
This trip was more than just a vacation—it was a testament to the ethos of shared living. The camaraderie and bond we’ve maintained over the years drew the attention of many, including waitstaff at the restaurants we frequented, who noted the uniqueness of our relationship. After all, it isn’t typical for six closely-knit couples to live within walking distance of each other, four of whom had embarked on this journey.
Despite spending seven consecutive days together, we navigated the space without friction. Of course, we had disagreements, but they were friendly and were resolved through open, respectful discussions. Nothing was off-limits, from spirituality to politics. Even amidst our political differences, respect and love prevailed, echoing our unity in diversity. We stayed up late, just talking. There was a television. We planned to watch a movie. But we never got around to it.
The trip was a microcosm of a larger dream of mine —a utopia where community thrives over isolated living. The fact that each of us, living so close to each other, owns separate cars, washers, dryers, lawnmowers, and vacuum cleaners seems like an enormous waste, materially and emotionally. Imagine sharing resources and reducing clutter while cultivating community and eliminating isolation. What if one vacuum cleaner served an entire street? What if we could reduce our material footprints while expanding our interpersonal connections?
The joy of waking up to familiar faces and engaging in friendly banter while cleaning dishes or even sharing a grocery run instilled a sense of warmth and belonging that we often miss daily. This trip was a glimpse into a world where shared living triumphs over isolated existences. It’s a world we can all imagine and aspire to create, one neighborhood at a time.