Le Moulin: The Middle
It is just sleeping. Like brother and sister. By now our friendship has grown stronger and I realize how much he reminds me of Tatu, my wild Columbian friend who fell off a roof in Paris a few years ago and died.
They share the same joie de vivre. This incredible sense of living life to the fullest. Loving women, food, pushing their limits fearlessly. Like Tatu, I admire my new Estonian friend and have a sort of unconditional love for him. I don't want to be with him, or even always be around him. I just like who he is. We lie beside each other as man and woman and feel no need to do anything more than sleep. Enjoying the feeling of each others breath, arms, and hands to hold.
In the morning he eats his cereal and climbs into a car with a big group of others. We exchange a simple goodbye and a warm hug. He is hitchhiking to a big hippie gathering in the South of France.
While I sit in the kitchen and tiredly smother rice cakes in peanut butter and chocolate spread Leila walks in. She is a beautiful young girl from America with half Middle Eastern blood and long dark curls that fall over her shoulders. Sometimes I want to call her Lolita. We are both feeling down. We mourn the departure of so many people and decide we'll allow ourselves to be sad for the day before we move on. It is the start of a wonderful friendship.
Over the next few days we grow closer and make each other big salads, share raw vegetable plates, exchange massages on the couch, roar over some of the obscenities and cultural differences we have experienced, dip our spoons into jars of peanut butter and tahini, and talk about different ways of living.
There is a lot of talk about "the system" here. I'm told I've been a part of it and Leila is questioned for her studies at university and expensive computer. We wonder how fair this is. Why there should be anything wrong with doing work that interests you and gaining money in exchange for it. While we love so much of this hippie lifestyle and relate to it on a deep level we wonder if one has to follow the all or nothing approach.
One day a girl from Australia arrives with long blonde dreadlocks and rainbow coloured clothes. As we lie on picnic tables with our shirts hiked up and the sun beaming down us us she tells us that she divides her life into pre and post hippie. She says that after trying LSD her whole world changed. She found that she could be herself, to relax and get lost in trance music with a subculture of people who don't judge each other on appearance but want to talk about the universe.
On Saturday, my one day off during my stay, a group of us girls walk to the nearest small town. I celebrate by buying us all a round of coffee and juice at the bar. We sit outside talking about the importance of touch and a Deutsch woman who is older than me says that her mother never hugged her. That touch is still strange to her. We all vow to embrace her as much as possible while she is here.
While we wait for the grocery store to open we lie in the grass and listen to music. I am always playing music, my phone in my pocket, sound blasting out. I think it's one form of escape I'm able to hold onto while I'm here. The Deutsch woman starts to cry. She tells us about her losses and it breaks my heart. No one should have to lose their job, partner, and child in such a short space of time. She curls into me and I hold her. She could be my best friend or my lover. I stroke her arm. I am grateful that we're in a space that has allows us to be so open with each other.
When the song ends I play a guided oneness meditation and we all lie in the grass with our palms facing the sky. When it ends we slowly get up and go buy groceries. By the time we start our walk back to the Moulin we are all a little closer. Maybe it's the meditation, maybe it's that we're all women in transition, maybe it's the summer sun. Maybe it's that we all know we are here together for a reason.
A couple of days later it is time for Leila to go. Again I feel sad to lose someone I've started to love as a friend. She leaves a letter in my caravan that lets me know the connection I felt was mutual. She tells me "You reassure me that you can be amazingly adaptable while maintaining a strong sense of self." My insecurities melt into the soil and I am grateful.