Sex + Love

The Last-Chance Cuddle Puddle

If only I were a little more chill, everything would be OK with us.


A few moons later Belle told me that she went poly because she wanted to build strong relationships with other women. When you’re in a monogamous relationship, she said, it’s difficult not to view other females as a threat. Going poly was a chance to grow closer to women, because, theoretically, she would welcome them without reservation into her and her partner’s lives.

It was this conversation that first opened me up to the idea of polyamory. Nigh and I hadn’t been getting along too well: we were stale and nitpicky, unexcited, mournful, and all those other telltale signs that we were growing apart but clutching on to the memory of the love we’d once shared. At the time I couldn’t bring myself to consider the cause of our unhappiness (or that maybe there was no cause, just as there’d be no straightforward solution). I told myself that jealousy (understandable: I wasn’t used to a polyamorous environment, and I wasn’t used to sharing close quarters with seminude girls) was to blame. Jealousy prevented me from becoming a part of the Family; jealousy made me a crank. We needed a new solution. So I told Nigh that I was ready. We’d take it slowly, easing into it: cuddling with other people, cuddle-puddling.

That night I cuddle-fucked Badger on the futon in the middle of Town Square. Badger—Belle’s partner—was sad because Belle had slept with Ivan, the old shamanic primitivist who’d gotten us all swooning after he shot a doe with a bow and arrow. (She fed us for a week. Longer, since we reused her bones to make bone soup.) Badger was sad, and Nigh encouraged me to “give him a pat on the back, or something,” and I suppose that I was angry, manic, over the fact that our relationship was changing. So that evening Badger and Nigh and me huddled in the Spider Dome around the stove (a rusty old metal barrel tipped on its side and with stove pipe snaking up, held together all piecemeal with wires), split dark chocolate and gulped down our whisky stash…

Flashes of entering into the Main House with 33 expectant faces glancing up at me from their dinners, pausing from slurping soup from their spoons as they sat on the long wooden benches on the long wooden table. Flashes of slurping up soup from a spoon. Flashes of pushing my ass against Badger’s groin and Badger petting my breasts and shoulders beneath the pile of blankets on the futon in the middle of the Main House, as life went on around us.

Later, much later, when Badger was passed out with his head snuggled between my shoulder blades, I peered up at Nigh, who stood over us, looking down on me with his terrified and beaten-down look. “I’m going back to the Spider Dome,” he said. “Where would you like to sleep? You could come back there with me, or you could stay here. What do you want to do?”

We walked back to the Dome, our boots sinking into the snow, with the crunch and silence of the black night sky. Jupiter loomed in the sky that night.


The next night was a failed attempt. Nigh and I had been spooning under blankets on the futon as life went on around us: the dreaded girls practicing their yoga poses; the dreaded boys patting the deerskin-hide-drums, feeling out the primordial dum dum dum with the sides of their palms. We were spooning, and we both felt cozy and good, love-y about each other and love-y towards the whole room and everyone in it. So I suggested, “Cuddle puddle?” and right as Nigh whispered, “Careful…,” I yelled, “CUDDLE PUDDLE!” into Town Square. “YO WE’RE HAVING A CUDDLE PUDDLE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW YO WET DOG YOU WANNA CUDDLE?”

Wet Dog—pale and thin and blue-eyed, with his long dark hair curling in beneath his shoulders, his cowboy hat, a skirt made from canvas pants, construction boots with plastic shopping bags sticking out of them, plastic shopping bags that he’d wrapped around his feet for extra dryness, with his face tattoos of claw marks and knuckle tats spelling out OPEN ROAD although he hailed from outside Detroit—sat at the foot of the futon, looking slack-jawed at the books on the bookshelf.

So it all went wrong because it was supposed to be a cuddle puddle, a bunch of people cuddling in a puddle, but only Wet Dog showed up, and it was awkward. Wet Dog pushed his back against me and that was awkward; I felt awkward being pressed against Wet Dog because he is an ex–sex addict and has had sex with 150+ people. But then I felt bad that this made me feel weird and I felt awkward for Wet Dog so I wrapped my arm friendly-like over his arm and cupped my hand over his, and as I was doing this, Nigh put his hand out to search for mine and found it in the hand of Wet Dog. That was awkward, but then we all held hands together. Then Nigh got up and didn’t come back and I wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to make Wet Dog feel bad, so I stayed.

I suppose that two nights in a row of cuddling and shifting shapes beneath wool blankets in the middle of Town Square made people suspect that I’d had a change of heart. “All the eyes were on you,” Nigh said. And later he said that he was torn up during all of it, very jealous and deeply sad, but that what kept him going was that he also—when he thought hard about it—felt happy because I was happy and had made Badger happy and Wet Dog happy. This happiness kept him going and kept him from destroying everything in the Main House. So he just kept leaving the room and peeking back in at me and Wet Dog, playing chess to distract himself, and then Arrow came up to him.

“Hey, friend,” Arrow said. “Do you want to share a cigarette?”

Nigh looked at the shape of me under the blankets, and Arrow looked at Nigh looking at me, and then Arrow looked at me. Nigh shrugged. “Sure.”

Between puffs, Arrow informed Nigh that he was sexually attracted to me and believed the feeling to be mutual, and he wanted to open up the conversation, start a dialogue with his friend Nigh about him, Arrow, having sex with me, Nigh’s girlfriend.

Nigh: “Um. Well. I guess we’ll have to talk to Anna about that one…”


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  • rosiesayrelax March 18th, 2013 3:49 PM

    please could you just make this into a book series or something because its perfect and because i am obsessed with weird hippie communes and when i read this and your previous article it made my day

    • Anna M. March 22nd, 2013 12:31 PM

      thanks! and thank you for all the nice comments, ladies. i am trying to make a book – that’s the Big Old Dream – thank yoo for the encouragement!

  • Mary the freak March 18th, 2013 4:15 PM

    This article… it’s beautiful.

  • forevernymph March 18th, 2013 5:05 PM

    This is so incredibly interesting. I’d love to try living like this for a while! Who knows? Maybe I’d even stay living like that.

  • stelliform March 18th, 2013 5:06 PM

    Is this a true story? It’s brilliant.

  • Ameliathistle March 18th, 2013 6:09 PM

    I need some advice…
    I am looking for a commune in the UK. None of the places I’ve found are actually hippie or truly communal. I’m looking for somewhere separate from the rest of the world, where freedom and love are priorities. However, I’m looking for somewhere temporary.
    Cany anyone point me in the right direction? Or know someone who could?

    • Katze March 19th, 2013 7:53 AM

      Have you heard of the Faslane Peace Camp? A friend of mine lives there and it’s a really nice place! It’s a protest camp against nuclear weapons, but it’s there since the 80s so today it’s more like a hippie commune and the people live there in caravans and shacks. The people there are always happy about visitors and you can easily stay there in a caravan for some time. And also I’m sure the people there can help you find more hippie places.
      Here are some links:

    • Anna M. March 22nd, 2013 12:35 PM

      i would check out and is a listing of all intentional communities, eco-villages, et cetera. normally you can visit a commune so it’s just temporary, and then see if you want to stay longer (become a resident). wwoof is a listing of organic farms, where you can work and learn in exchange for room and board. also temporary.

      east wind is a lovely commune, so is acorn and twin oaks… there are lots lots lots of them all so lovely and so free and no money anywhere in sight just lotsa kombucha.

      • vanguardinspace April 2nd, 2013 11:12 AM

        I’m looking for something similar to AmeliaThistle, but in California. So many of the listings on sound lovely but I’m finding it hard to sort through them and figure out whether the environments would have the energy that I’d like. Suggestions?

  • Skatapus March 18th, 2013 6:16 PM

    This is very interesting, a great look into a way of living very different from my own, as well as an interesting peek into a relationship. I ended up just as curious about the other characters mentioned as I was about the narrator and Nigh, as it sounds like they all had super interesting back stories as well, and I was left wondering just how they all found their way to the commune. :)

  • chloegrey March 18th, 2013 6:41 PM

    As a story about a decaying relationship and some Not Good Feelings this is totally sad and well-written and absorbing, but it also makes me want to go hang out on a commune even though it seems like the author didn’t have a very good experience there! I have to say my experience with polyamory is not super anything substantial but I’m in an open relationship now and when it first started being an actual ‘open relationship’ I felt kind of weird and like maybe if it didn’t work for me we would end things, but now it actually really makes me happy because it’s not full of pressure and if my lady friend is happy with some other dude or lady then she’s happy and that makes me happy and it means I can explore with other people and so… I think it’s a Pretty Cool Thing. Anyway A+ Anna this is totally beautiful.

  • Monica B March 18th, 2013 8:37 PM

    Wow. Thanks for this. Super duper beautiful.

  • spudzine March 18th, 2013 8:41 PM

    Wow that was so incredibly interesting that I can’t believe it’s real. But of course it’s real, because it’s the kind of stuff that can’t be made up.

  • Melanie Hunt March 18th, 2013 9:00 PM

    oooo, randomest thing I’ve read this week!!!! didn’t know theses actually exsisted since the 70′s :)


  • StrawberryTwist March 18th, 2013 9:10 PM

    This is such an interesting article! I really enjoyed reading this! :) Thank you for posting this

  • Veronica Gunther March 18th, 2013 9:23 PM

    When I finished reading this I was really sad. I don’t know exactly why… I supposed it’s because I’ve tried polyamory before and it didn’t work.

    Trying to “save love” by bringing other people to the relationship doesn’t work. You see, to bring other people in, the relationship has to be already awesome. But frequently people look for polyamory when things are not working. And end up even worse.

    Today I know that I can’t be on a open relationship, but I know that we can “share” someone from time to time. As an ex-boyfriend told me: sex is perfect with 3 people, but love just happens between 2.

    People don’t understand that what is best for me, maybe it’s not the best for you. Polyamory is not for everybody and the same goes for monogamy. That’s why the first thing a couple needs to do when things are not working is to TALK. Really talk and open up. The answer is not outside, it is not in a hippie community.

    On the other hand, it was a good experience I guess. Try things out and discover what you DON’T WANT is very important. Actually, if I had’t experienced polyamory, today I would still have this doubt. And that would be terrible.

    ps: Sorry for the bad english, I’m brazilian!

    • lxmldrt April 11th, 2013 12:26 PM

      I was totally moved by this article. I guess I was a bit sad too. Your comment kind of cheered me up.

  • unicornconnect March 19th, 2013 4:46 AM

    This was so interesting. Please write more:)

  • wallflower152 March 19th, 2013 10:21 AM

    Hippie communes are fascinating! I’m reading Arcadia right now actually, Rookie recommended it several months ago. I wouldn’t mind living in some kind of commune for a while or maybe longer. I think the idea of living off the land and growing/hunting/gathering your own food is beautiful. Because in the end that’s all you really need–food, water and shelter. I’ve been working a “real job” for less than a year and I already know I’m NOT gonna live like this forever, I’m so restless for something different…

  • barbroxursox March 19th, 2013 6:37 PM

    I agree with someone earlier in the comments that you should make this into a book… It’s amazing! Hippies and communes are so interesting and I used to like idolize them. I love the philosophy, I guess, of hippies, but I’m not sure if I could ever totally live by it. But some summer, I do wanna try living on a commune, at least for a few days/weeks to get the experience. I used to want to live on a commune like forever, but I think I’d be too chicken and need to come back to “real” society.

  • Nora Springer March 20th, 2013 7:59 PM

    Wow, this is amazing. I couldn’t imagine living like this, but maybe I should. I’m constantly stressed and strung out, and I would love some time away from it all, where I can try and stop worrying about what people think. It sounds like a beautiful place. Sad, and full of people healing, but beautiful.