I’m sitting curled up under a blanket on the eve of our last night of farming. How did I actually get here? I still feel like it is November and I am trying to figure out what to do for the next semester. January and the first half of February were shit. I was bored. I was lonely. I was missing out on school and being abroad. I was trying to live with myself. Things got better though. I visited Berkeley. Being with young people (no matter how fratty) was ideal. The minute I came back from Berkeley, Ali was at my house. Ali visiting was adventurous and comforting and filled with hikes, cooking, and laughing. My 21st birthday was strangely memorable and lovely. Ali’s visit was sprinkled with times of her visiting other friends in the area. In March, Paige and I drove up to SF for two days of invaluable design studio visits, and when I got home, I had marbles in my mouth and couldn’t speak about or process how important that trip was. My mental health project was presented by my professor at the NCIIA conference that weekend as well. Sadie and Ali met me at the airport and the next week was insanely natural, as I hadn’t seen Sadie in almost a year. Ali left for an outward bound trip, and the day Sadie left, I had a little mouth surgery. Then I frantically packed for Europe.
[This paragraph is a side note. I had never been abroad. I paid for the entire trip myself. Sure, I could have gone somewhere more daring or less travelled, but reality is a bitch, and I wanted to travel with people I know and see places most of my peers saw as kids.]
So then Ali and I took four airplanes to Paris. We were there for about a week. It was a delicious, absurd, and beautiful visit. Full of language problems, Ali vomiting, Tamar’s sass, Daria’s sass, kind Jenna, art, cheese, baguettes, metro rides, and crepes, Paris now has my heart.
Ali and I reunited with Sara G, and we stayed at her friend Meag’s cute studio apartment the night before our early train ride to Nice. The train ride was five hours, followed by three hours of waiting for the bus that brought us in the direction of the farm. We had no idea were we were going, as the bus climbed corners tighter than hotel sheets. On the second bus ride, a teenaged boy heard us talking and said (in French obviously) “I know where you need to go! That is the farm of my grandma fifi, not my real grandmother, but the grandmother of my heart. My mom will drive you there.” Luckily, the boy was not evil and we avoided any sort of “Taken” situation.
We had no idea what farm we were going to. We had been emailing with, so we thought, a man called Claude, who said the farm was a family farm. So we expected that we were arriving to a farm with Claude and probably his wife and kids. Turns out, Claude is a 63 year old woman, who lives on the farm with her 93 year old mother and two of her younger sisters. We climbed trees to whack down olives, stoked fires, picked up and carried trees, and mindfully did other work with these two inspiring old ladies. We were able to see how our work helped the farm run, while surrounded by this humbling and giving family.
We farmed for two weeks. In these weeks, I have discovered that: manual labor for six hours a day is mind-numbingly wonderful, I eat a shit ton of food and get muscles from working this much, I will never take an olive for granted, I somehow understand a lot of French but can’t speak any, I am clumsy (nahhhh jokes I knew this), farms have internet, the boy I was with last semester has a girlfriend, a 93 year old woman is stronger than the three 21 year olds combined, I can’t go a week without chocolate, things that are sold in America as Mediterranean inspired bullshit are real parts of living in a small town in the south of France, I can’t get an internship, my dad got promoted, I can laugh until crying with these two friends of mine, we can run from a descending swarm of bees, I can harvest, cut down, and move olive trees without machinery, weeding is meditation with a communist knife, French poetry from the Boheme is perfect, orange marmalade is bitter, and sleep is a sweet sweet thing.
Our last day of the farm started out with me accidentally putting my hand in cat shit and a tile falling off the roof onto my arm, but the day was nice and easier work of sorting olives, and I possibly might actually double major in art and architecture.
Traveling is cool. Traveling is hot. Traveling is fun. Okokokoooook I will keep traveling. This weekend we are in Nice, and it’s supposed to rain but I want to sleep and eat and wash my clothes and get a tan at the beach. I’m a little sad and a little stressed, missing home and thinking too much. But, I’m so happy to explore and cook and see towns and visit people and figure out the summer.