chapter 5 – commune living in washington dc with ecofemme ambassador anita, and happy times with narendra

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Meeting Anita was a great experience and one that will stay with me for a long time. Anita, another EcoFemme ambassador and menstrual activist (who was pretty instrumental in designing EF’s cloth pad range, starting to get them made, and was hoping to distribute them in the USA at one time) had also spent a good amount of time in Auroville, India with the women of EcoFemme and Sadhana Forest Project. I knew we would get on well based on just this…

Its always great to meet someone who has been on the road themselves; they instantly know what a tired traveller needs on arrival; usually a shower, tea (if British) a wifi code and some space for an hour or so to get settled! Anita gave me just this; in fact she shared her own little bedroom with me and was cool about me collapsing there for a while to try and get over my fluey-ness. I’d had a pretty pants journey on an overnight bus from Boston to Washington DC and hadn’t yet slept properly (yup, the ride was about 10 hours and the Megabus air conditioning was fearsomely cold and shivery).

I had also had the onset of menstruation to deal with in a physical sense, en-route, with no decent toilet and cloth pads buried deep down in the backpack… One of those ‘Nooooo’ times when menstruation starts and you are not prepared for it. “Not noooooow!”

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The bus ride seemed endless that night. You know how some journeys fly by? Not this one. I managed to score a double seat to lie on, but could I get comfortable? Noooh!! One of those nights where I was just getting to sleep and the driver pulls over into the services area and without warning flicks on the bus lights (the glare of which can be seen from space) and shouts “Be Back at 4.30am” like an army general. Looking at the guy he was built like a tank and did actually look a bit like one so us passengers didn’t argue… bleary eyed looks of disapproval were exchanged among us though. It must be said it reminded me of unceremonious wakings on Indian bus journeys too…!

And speaking of India, I simply have to mention dear kind Narendra here, although he has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘menstrual’ part of my tour. His wonderful shiney self welcomed me into his home for a glorious afternoon, fed me, let me sleep on his bed when I was feeling poorly. He nurtured and cared for me and cooked the most delicious food that sent me straight back to India in a way I rarely get with flavours! Narendra; the shiny wonderful soul, met Lee and I at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram near Madurai in South India where he has since completed his Yoga Teacher Training. He lives in a dreamy house in the woods just outside of the city, close enough to this stunning water fall… Happy times indeed and many thanks to you Xx Here is the feast!

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and the beautiful walk we had together…

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OK so back in Anita’s room and after a snooze, a reminisce about my bus journey, and generally feeling grateful to be lying down horizontally(!) I took to gazing out of the window at the clouds drifting by in the big blue sky. It got me on to the Buddhist idea of impermanence and change; as the clouds drift and change so do we… (I was feeling very spacious thanks to Day 1 and the Flu and was allowing myself to connect to something deep spacey and spiritual).

I finally decided to get up, so I could meet Anita’s housemates. Anita’s attic room was in a house in which an income-sharing commune were living, in the middle of Washington. And I was kindly invited to join them as a guest for two nights. Their kindness was truly appreciated especially considering I was completely tired ill and down-beat and not very up for helping out (I noticed this lack of motivation, but because no one else had never met me before they didn’t know I was down-beat and thought I was quite energetic; hahaha!) Still, it felt all wrong, to go into a house with no energy enthusiasm and no oomph and no JOY.

I did feel pretty honoured to be welcomed into the house by these forward thinking people though; folk trying to find out a way to do things/live differently. They had all signed a legal contract between themselves; agreeing on sharing everything – from cars to financial income. Meaning those involved with domestic work, helping out on the land or round the house could live from the wages of those working and that all roles were seen as valuable as each others. The community would do each others chores (ever noticed how it’s so much more fun doing someone else’s jobs than doing your own!), they’d go skip-diving for groceries, and they would work together building and doing house maintenance. It was amazing experience for me as I had never stayed in a true communal space before. They were working extremely hard converting the loft into rooms during my visit, and I attempted to help them out with some light lifting which spiraled me into dizzy fluey feelings!

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The following day I was due to give my workshop to the people of Washington! I was so excited to be doing it but the excitement was muffled by my hoarse voice and nasty cough. I managed to get it all out though, and you know – it went great. It was at Maddy’s commune house in another part of Washington. Maddie is such a shiney bright sweet person. I loved looking up from my explanations and animated descriptions and jokes and seeing her smiling face. It was great and the workshop once more left me with a feeling that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing at the moment, passing around cups and cloth pads and talking about periods. A wonderful feeling to have, especially when two weeks into a 3 month trip… The trip had been a long time coming and had involved months of planning but i loved being stuck in it, in the mix.

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Its funny being on the road; you meet such wonderful people and then you have to say goodbye to them again. I found it hard to say goodbye to Anita and her vegan cheesecake treats – yummmm – thanks so much for that Anita, and thanks for also connecting me with Tommasina and Casey in Denver who’s story is coming up, and also with Kimberley Schroeder the menstrual activist literally everyone has asked me to connect with… and who I did manage to meet in San Francisco! 🙂

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…and thanks to you again Anita for some bad-ass driving round town and for getting me to my bus! (For a horrible moment I thought I wasn’t going to end up making it to my event in Philadelphia because of appalling Washington DC traffic)!

The tour continues… Xx

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