The Future will be Cooperative

A serial novel by Roy Lincoln Karp

Table of Contents

Installment 1

Notebook #16

Thursday, March 5, 2026

It’s been several weeks since I last wrote in my journal and it feels good to get back to it with a fresh notebook.  The first blank page used to intimidate me.  As a young man, I must have started dozens of journals, but always abandoned them after a few entries.  I was too much of a perfectionist and couldn’t tell my inner critic to shut up.  But in the last decade I’ve filled fifteen notebooks and now I can hardly imagine my life without writing.

I began notebook number one several months after my daughter Lulu was born.  She arrived three months before her due date and spent five months in the NICU, so this was a highly stressful and challenging time.  Journaling became a kind of respite, a safe harbor in a turbulent sea.  At first, writing helped me process those traumatic early days as a parent.  Then I started delving into earlier memories and just never stopped.  The writing helped me make meaning not just from past events, but from what I was experiencing every day.

Right now, I’m sitting on the Green Bus, a 10-passenger electric-powered van, checking out the other passengers as we make our way toward Dorchester.  There are seven of us in total, but it looks like I’m the only one over the age of thirty and, I suspect, the only parent as well.  The morning was tough, saying goodbye to Esme and Lulu.  We’re a tightly knit family and we’ve never been apart from one another for more than a day or two.

Lulu of course had a million questions, like whether we were going to move again.  She is twelve now and can still vaguely remember our summer vacations in the Berkshires.  That was before Covid-19 and life in quarantine, before mommy had to close down her restaurant, before we had to sell our three-bedroom Cape.  I told her about my job interview and had to admit there was a chance we might move again.

George gave me a lift to A New Leaf, the cooperative bookstore where I had to pick up my ticket and catch the bus.  George and Linda have been great to us.  They’re empty nesters in a giant old Victorian in Jamaica Plain, and loyal patrons of Chez LeRoux almost from the time it opened.  When the restaurant closed, they came up with idea of hiring Esme as their personal chef and also invited us to move in.  They said we could stay as long as we needed, but we don’t want to impose.

I felt a bit melancholy driving past the shuttered restaurant, but I immediately felt at home stepping into the bookshop.  Sam greeted me warmly and we chatted for a bit.  I told her about the job interview and our idea of moving to the Berkshires.  She said she was surprised we were planning to leave Roslindale because we’re so deeply connected to the community.  I got a little defensive, saying I had to find work somewhere and this was the first history teaching job I had seen posted in months.  But deep down, I know she’s right.  It would be incredibly hard to uproot ourselves from our community.

I think Sam sensed she hit a nerve and said we all need to make a change sometimes.  I said, “If Covid taught us anything, it’s that we can make huge changes in our lives when necessity forces our hand.”  Sam’s response affirmed how well she knows us: “You guys learned that lesson from your experience with Lulu and the NICU.”  Once again, she was right.  I thought of one of my favorite quotations: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Sam handed me my ticket and told me the bus was already in the public parking lot out back.  She encouraged me to exchange U.S. dollars for cooperative currency.  She said, “Out west, it’s all Berkshares, mutual aid, and time banking now.”  She didn’t have any Berkshares, so I purchased $200 in Coop Bucks.  That left me with another $200 in USD, which I still felt best to hold on to.  I hope I did the right thing because it’s all the cash I have on me and we cut up all our credit cards.

I gave Sam a big hug and thanked her.  As I headed out to catch the van, she said the coop was planning to develop some new educational programs and might be hiring one more staff member for the worker-owner track.  Was she implying that I should apply for it?  It sounded like a great opportunity and I was dying to talk to her about it, but I needed to head out to catch the bus.

I stepped into the van, offering a terse smile to the other passengers as I made my way to an empty seat toward in the back row.  Before we pulled out of the lot, the driver welcomed us and introduced himself as JD.  He was a tall and lanky twenty-something with a multitude of piercings and once again I felt my age.  He gave us a brief history of Green Bus, which was started by hippies in the 1970’s, but only became a cooperative a few years ago.  The funny thing is, I remember a friend in high school telling me about Green Bus, but assumed it was some kind of urban legend.  This was the early 1990’s, before you could look these kinds of things up on the Internet.

JD told us we were going to make one more pick up at the Dorchester Food Co-op, then head to the Mass Pike and keep going until we stopped for lunch in Holyoke.  Then we were off.