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Sunday, May 29, 2005

letting my hair down

I cut my own hair. I snipped away split ends, the expression on my face not far from a Heroine addict’s, until my hair felt smooth and unspoiled.

It looks choppy, but I can run my hands through it again. I let it dry naturally, and was overjoyed by the kinks that formed all around. The last time I did this was last summer, and after a year of blow- drying my hair, I find it strangely beautiful. Why try and look like a rose when I prefer wildflowers?

I was still half asleep during my snipping session, and will probably slap myself later, but for now I'm enjoyig feeling "au natual". I got to bed late last night, after my usual evening get together with a friend here. He calls to me from the streets, a big smile on his lips, long dreadlocks falling down his back. He comes running up the stairs, gives me a kiss on each cheek, and I feel elated to have a visitor. I mix vodka and orange juice, or sometimes big mugs of tea and hot chocolate, and we move to the music as we talk about whatever comes to mind.

I stumble over French words, and occasionally lug out a large red dictionary to search for the word I yearn for. I can’t stand not expressing myself properly. I am so far from poetic when I speak that I imagine Wordsworth spinning in his grave, or Edith Piaf singing out a high pitched “Mon dieu!” But rather than get upset, I take deep puffs from rolled cigarettes, laced with Moroccan hash, and laugh about nothing in particular. He eventually takes off, knowing he has to work in the morning, and I dawdle about until I’m tired.

I still get stressed out, feel I should make more money when my cleaning jobs are few and far in between, but a lot of me is easing up.

I remember the first summer I came back here, when I finally let my long blonde hair fall on my shoulders. I had been going through a very self-conscious period, and felt I could only look well put together if my hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail. Then I came to the South of France, starting wearing light linen shirts, and letting my hair fall on my shoulders. For the first time I was comfortable in myself, and tempting boys like the Venus I had always yearned to be.

Yesterday I found myself deep in a pit of my own misery. I could barely move my body. I dragged myself out a walk, and started to turn around to return home at least five times. But I knew that I had to feel that I had accomplished something in the day, or there was no way I would sleep at night. So I kept walking. And when the hills seemed too far to walk down, I ran down them at high speed, invincible, unstoppable, pounding the pavement with all my dark thoughts. I forced myself to stare at the different shades of green that surrounded me. Stopped by a field of Jersey cows, who all stopped what they were doing to look at me, and followed me with their eyes until I was out of sight.

Back at home I did some writing. I’ve written a Blues song, which still needs a lot of work, but I belt it out in a husky Blues voice nothing like my own. I probably sound like hell, but I feel like a fucking superstar.

I should also be careful, because sound travels through these streets like the wind. When I first came I was unable to sing out loud because I knew there was no way someone or everyone wouldn’t hear me. But now my neighbors have the pleasure of hearing me scream full force at all hours of the day. Bless their souls. I’m expecting complaints slipped politely under my door anytime now.

In the evening Susan stopped by while I was munching away at a bean salad I'd made. Susan is an older woman, and for as long as I've known her has had long beautiful white hair. I call her an older woman, because that is what facts and figures make of her, but she is a vision of youth. She screams vitality, eats with a vengeance while mainting a lean figure, and tells me about her five hour walks in the wilderness. Her German characteristics give her face an exotic sort of beauty, and she is always beautiful in large old sweaters, linen shirts or cotton tank tank tops. She smells like the spices in her kitchen, and we both get overexcited when talking about food.

"I'm going to make a cake when David returns for his birthday! A chocolate and nut cake," she tells me.
"I have to have some."
"It's flourless, and very rich."
"I need a piece."
"I think it is...makes you very fat!" she says, opening her arms up.
"The more the better," I smile. And we agree to have a feast soon.

When I was younger I would chase after her on nature hikes, and am reminded that I used to chant "Oh Susan, you are so clever!" She knows just about every wild flower than exists.

I spent one of the best years of my childhood here, and every time I run down a road in a sloppy jog, it all comes back to me. Sometimes it feels like the years in between are a blur, a mess of trying to figure out who I am, and that I’ve come right back to being the little girl that came here a lifetime ago. Once again my hair is baby blonde, and it trails down my back recklessly. My feet are always dirty from the road and I wear out sandals with the same fury I used to. I've regained my passion for colourful flowers and anything pink and feminine. But most importantly, I feel free in my body again.

Maybe part of growing up is realizing that in some ways you don’t have to.

It feels good to be back. And for old times sake, I'm letting my hair down.

flower market
(Yesterday's flower market in the village.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous peach said...

kate baggott suggested i follow your blog...i'm in california getting my masters, but wanting to go to france soon to nanny for a french family, learn to cook french cuisine, and hike. so. i hope you don't mind if i tag along.

i have a livejournal you could read if you have an lj account. it's www.livejournal.com/users/peachfriedman

8:55 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Yeah of course you can tag along. I highly recommend greataupair.com if you're looking, it makes it really easy to find exactly what you want in your family. There's a fee to get an account going, but it's worth it, and you get a really clear idea of who you're working for. Will be sure to check out your livejournal! Thanks.

11:45 AM  

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