After leaving home, I hitched, hiked, and moved about with abandon. One year I estimated that I had had thirty places of residence in about ten cities or towns. It was inevitable that I’d find myself on the receiving end of some sympathetic drivel on the value of fixed place, home, and community. All this from a middle-aged shop owner who had never been farther than two counties over, never been to the state capital nor the largest city in the state. I listened with sympathy because he was the father of a friend. If I examined what he was saying, I’d have to acknowledge that he had more than a few points- so I contemplated how long a transit might take back to Boston.
Two days later, I was on my way. The backside of Boston’s Beacon Hill in those days was a working-class neighborhood. It was also home to a colony of Beats, Bohemians, and Folkies – alternate lifestyle people. It wasn’t exactly the sort of slum where the cry of “Gardyloo!!!” would ring out as your neighbor emptied the slop pail on your head, but it wasn’t an elite part of town either.
It was a village within the city. I knew about fifty percent of the neighbors, and they knew me. We shopped, drank, ate, and gathered at the same institutions in the area. We knew little of the people living only as far away as a mile. While I lived in the state’s capital, I’d never been inside the Statehouse.
One night while contemplating life over a few beers, I finally reflected on my friend’s father and his comments. Like every other human, I tended to form, create or pull a tiny community around me. It protected me from the random acts of the world and gave me comfort. It hardly mattered that it was in Boston or a small coastal community in Maine.

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