I lived in a dorm for all four years of college (well, three years in a dorm and then one year in on-campus apartments). Despite the less-than-stellar lodging, it was one of the best times of my life. Recently my heart has been longing to live in a dorm again - or the grown-up version, living on a street or in a neighborhood with a bunch of friends. I'm generally still leery of the roommate thing, for many reasons - my innate protectiveness of my own space, combining belongings while still having to keep track of Mine and Yours, fear of someone's boyfriend being there all the time and preventing me from relaxing in my pajamas. But if I could have close community and keep my home and my space? That would be perfection.
What I miss about dorm life is the easy, spontaneous social interaction; the comfort of being one bee in a massive hive. Friends were naturally part of my days. I could be alone if I wanted to, but if I wanted company for a walk, or for dinner, or just to watch a favorite show, a friend could be available in five minutes. If all else failed, I could go to a common area and see who was around. Hanging out was flexible, not a commitment that had to be penciled in weeks ahead of time. (There was also an element of excitement, because you never knew who you might run into or where the day/night might take you.) As adults with responsibilities, we inevitably lose a lot of that freedom, but I don't believe we have to lose all of it. If I lived really close to a bunch of like-minded friends, there would be no reason why I couldn't call someone at 7:30 on a Monday night and say, "Hey, want to come over for a few minutes and talk while I fold this laundry?" Or, "I baked a cake, want to stop by and keep me from eating it all by myself?" They could also call me and say, "Could you come entertain the baby for half an hour so I can get something done?" It goes both ways.
I think a lot of people - married and single - long for this kind of day-to-day involvement in each other's lives. I'm experiencing a great sense of community at my church, which is something I've needed and prayed for for a long time, and I'm truly thankful and thrilled about it. But it's not quite the same as what I'm talking about here. I live across town from most of my friends, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. But hopefully this season of aloneness is temporary... in one way or another.