I just finished a 4 hour garden shift on this gorgeous post-hurricane September day. Blue sky, warm sun, squishy mud between my toes as I sank into the ground while cutting broccoli… we certainly haven’t perfected the art of communal living, but on days like today it’s pretty fucking easy to enjoy life here.

We spent the last hour and a half of the shift weeding and thinning a long bed of carrots. There were six of us spread out in the row together, weeding a patch and then leapfrogging on to the next unweeded section. Early on in the weeding adventure, one person began speaking in Spanish, and soon I was surrounded by conversation I only understood snatches of. “Your mom did what with a duck?” And then when I tried to communicate, it came out half Spanish, half French, peppered with grunts and grumbles of frustration. In high school my friends argued that learning Spanish was going to be more useful in the long run, but I thought French was so romantic and smooth and lovely and I loved the musical Les Miserables and I wanted to go to Paris…

The Spanish conversation eventually turned to stories of random hook-ups, and those of us with stories to tell switched back to English for better communication of juicy details. What started as fun confessions about drunken indiscretions ended up as first-hand accounts of how sketchy it is for women to go home with men met in bars. One woman told us about a time she thought she might have been drugged, and woke up the next morning in New Jersey. We asked the gay man in our group if there was anything like that in the gay male pick-up scene, and he said something that really struck me. “We all look out for each other,” he said. “We’re bonded through a common experience of oppression. Random men and women who hook up don’t have anything like that.” Of course, he also said that it’s so easy to hook up with other men at gay bars, so there’s no need for drugs or coersion. What a different world…

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