I love being a writer, but one of the hardest things about my job is that I do it alone, in my house, all day long. If it were not for my children and their after-school activities, I am quite sure that weeks would go by in which I wouldn’t actually speak to another living soul. Well, except for the telemarketer from our home alarm company who calls me every single day, despite the fact that in three months, I have yet to develop an interest in upgrading my alarm system.
The point, though, is that I really miss having colleagues. I miss having someone in an office next door to talk to when I need a break, or to go to lunch with. And I miss hearing the details and stories of people whose lives are nothing like my own.
When I was a college counselor, my office-mates consisted of a somewhat conservative gay man from New York and a single, radically liberal woman from Ohio, both of whom were about ten years older than me. As a married woman in my late twenties with a newborn at home, our lives could not have been more different, and I learned more from the two of them than almost anyone else in my life.
But I’m finding lately that my life is less and less populated by people who are different from me, and it’s troubling. Don’t get me wrong - I love my friends - but we’re all in the same demographic. Whether we’re doctors or lawyers or writers or stay-at-home moms, our daily existences are more or less the same.
I live in one of the most diverse cities in the entire world, and yet I feel like I’m floating around inside a mom- bubble, filled with people who are just like me. But since I don’t have colleagues anymore, and since most of my not-sitting-in-a-room-by-myself time is spent at soccer games or at theater rehearsals or at flag football practices, it’s no wonder that this is my world. Still, sometimes, I just crave a different perspective.
So when an email popped up in my in box a few months ago, advertising a class on hot button political issues at a local museum/cultural center, I pounced on it. Once a week for six weeks, each class covers a different topic (Education policy! Health care! Taxes!), and is taught by a different USC professor who specializes in each field. Here, I thought, is the kind of opportunity I’ve been looking for. A chance to meet new people, from different walks of life, with whom I can engage in interesting discussions. I enrolled, along with a good friend who has similar “mom-bubble” concerns to mine.