Sex + Love

The Last-Chance Cuddle Puddle

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


The world didn’t end after my cuddle-puddle debut. In fact, not a whole lot happened. The mood of the Wolf shifted from high let’s-fill-these-woods-with-good-vibes-so-if-it-all-ends-we’re-on-the-right-side energy to quiet despair. Stupor. The snow came. Two feet at the top of the driveway: we were officially snowed in, stuck. Nigh and I never did get past the cuddling-with-other-people phase. We didn’t even join in any full-out cuddle puddles, at least not in front of each other, though it was pretty clear to me that both of us wanted to. But my jealousy didn’t miraculously dissolve, and while I’d rather aggressively declare that I didn’t care what the hell Nigh did with anyone else, I felt my guts bubble with a deep, desperate dread whenever I saw him talking to other girls. I wrote this in my journal:

Q: What can we do when jealousy passes through?
A: We can go out the back door and chop wood, throwing
our bodies into that ax, splitting
madrone and cedar into smaller and smaller pieces, throwing
ourselves into that split, and let that crisp and constellation-filled sky humble.

So Nigh kept to himself, not getting close to the tight-knit pack of Wolves because he did not want to hurt my already-hurt and paranoid feelings. He could barely get close to me: I was going stir-crazy, never having a moment alone in the cold and crowded Main House, and so most of the time I shooed Nigh away when he tried to hang out with me. Meanwhile, I continued to be touchy with other boys, or rather, boys continued to touch me, acting as if it was their prerogative to squeeze me as I tried to read on an armchair, and using the fact that they were mystical, androgynous beings and all souls are the same and we’re all part of some Universal One, there is no difference between
us because we’re all One One One, as an excuse to get way too close.

Nigh grew quieter. Too often his eyes had that terrified, beaten-down look. The snow fell hard.

The squeezes were fun for a bit. The attention gave me that same flattering, ego-pumping rush that was precisely what I’d hoped to escape by coming to the woods. But it made Nigh so sad. It got old fast. Then it was just annoying.

I went on a walk with Belle and confessed that all this cuddle-puddling was making me nauseous. And that Arrow had invited me to do naked yoga in the barn (his bedroom) and I’d said, “Nah.” That while in theory I was really down with people stripping down and stretching out their bodies like astral planes in public places; in practice, for some reason, the whole shtick was making me tired. And Arrow responded, “Oooh, but doing it in the nude…it just feels so…so much more free, you know?”

“For sure,” I mumbled.


This was supposed to be a lighthearted glimpse at what happens when you stick a bunch of young, sexy, exploratory strangers in a house in the woods together, snow them in, and tell them that they’re finally “free” to do what they want. It’s a funny experiment. A weird one. You grow close to people really fast, and there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, and so of course you crush on everyone, and hate everyone, and there is no escape. You spend 24 hours a day with the one person that you’re supposed to be close to, and so you grow distant from him. It’s a hippie commune where everyone is “free” but it is also the 21st century, so we’re all hyper-aware of the hurt feelings and mistakes that occurred with free love in the Sixties. There is a lot of talk about feelings, a lot of cuddle-puddling, and not a lot of action. This was supposed to be a lighthearted glimpse at all that but the more I write, the more it seems like an article about the end of a relationship.


I wrote this in my journal:

Slowly it became a conversation about how we suffered and both of our eyes filled with water.

He said, “Is that what I do? I go stretch a squirrel hide and then it will all be okay?”

And I said, “Yeah. Yeah, it will.”


Nigh wrote this on the dry-erase board:



Towards the end, I carried the Main House inside of me: messy, cold, pent-up and mixed-up emotions with no outlet. About to explode. I’d hoped that I could disassociate myself from my jealousy like it was just another layer of clothing to remove, but when I was honest with myself, I knew that it signaled the end of a relationship. Deep down I was realizing that Nigh would be happier with other girls than he could be with me, and that I’d be happier somewhere else.

A witch confessed to me how lonely he was and how unfair it was that Nigh got me all to himself and wouldn’t share. I confessed to him that I’d had the urge to fuck him on the barn floor that Christmas night during the storm. Then I felt guilty and ignored him. A few nights later he cast a spell on Nigh’s and my bed: hair wrapped around a stick, a rusty nail, a nasty note.

Maybe the spell worked. Soon afterward, I said goodbye to Nigh and all that, walked 13 miles down the snowy mountain, and hitchhiked out. ♦

Anna McConnell is an anagram of Mingle Alone in le Carnal Club, which is how Anna often feels. She writes and farms and travels. Contact her at


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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.