When you look at my girlfriend and me, you’d think the biggest cultural difference is the most obvious. E. is American and Trinidadian; I am French and Lebanese (and naturalized American). You’d be surprised, but despite being born and raised on opposite sides of the world, we keep finding out more and more similarities in our upbringing, cultures, food*, values and more.
We’re millennials, after all.
No, the biggest cultural clash that we face is me being a New Age girl. A tarot reader and teacher. A holistic, uh… person? Someone who’s into holistic healing**. An assiduous user of essential oils. An adept of yoga, reiki, and meditation. A follower of moon cycles. A Pisces who needs regular outings by the ocean to replenish her energy. A raider of metaphysical stores (Crystals! Candles! Hoodoo oils! Talismans! Squeeeee!!!). A firm believer in the law of attraction and our power to manifest everything we want. A modern witchy who does candle spells, jars, rituals and more things I jokingly call voodoo***.
Or, as my girlfriend puts it, a hippie.
(Not like the motorcycle-riding dudes from Easy Rider that nearly overdose on drugs in a cemetery, but the 21st-century version: an East-Coast, redheaded and feistier version of The Gwyneth, with an accent.)
Sure, before we met, E. already collected crystals and burnt a lot of candles and incense. When we started dating, she mentioned the Universe many times, and that gave me a hint that I could slowly come out of the broom closet. By “slowly”, I mean, of course, being the #QueenOfSubtlety, allowing excitement to get the best of me, and busting out of that closet all at once****.
Me being a hippie doesn’t make us incompatible, but it leads to rather funny moments.
One day, I injured my left big toenail by snagging it against the couch that even my cat hasn’t managed to rip to shreds. (That toe has been giving me a lot of trouble since an Ikea headboard fell on it during a move in 2013 – needless to say, I’m #HighlyAccidentProne).
E., being CPR-certified, got very excited at the idea of playing with anything that involved blood (she really enjoys the fact that I’m #HighlyAccidentProne). I hate it when anyone touches me when I’m injured – it always hurts way more than if I tend to the injury myself. So, to get her to leave it, I said I would take an over-the-counter pain reliever, use tea tree oil to prevent bacteria from getting into the open wound, bandage it, and send healing breath into my toe to get the swelling to go down (I’m not Reiki-certified (yet), but can do a rudimentary form of it in case of emergency).
E. went into a hilarious rant, with a caricatural French accent and high voice: “Dah-liiing, my foot is gangrenous and about to fall off, can you get me some essential oils?”
About a month into our relationship, I took E. with me to the monthly community meditation at Shine Yoga. I “bribed” her by telling her I’d make French onion soup for dinner after the meditation. As we settled in the dark studio, filled with the glow of a gorgeous Himalayan salt lamp, she looked at me, panicked, and whispered, “Are you dragging me into a cult?!”
I could see her locating all the exits in case she needed to make a run for the door.
(Note: This would be a good time to mention that this beautiful, insanely sexy lady loves motorcycles, guns, beer, camping in bear country, the Texas Giants/Texas Bald Eagles/whatever the football team the southern half of the country supports is called, and zombies, and can casually lift up to 700 lbs – she once carried me in her arms and I, usually self-conscious about being 5’9 and curvy (though not close to 700 lbs) felt as if I weighed less than a feather!)
As the meditation began, however, I could feel E. slip into a state of bliss. The tension she carried in her shoulders was eased, and her breathing became deeper and more full. I could see her energy with my eyes closed, a beautiful, glowing white butterfly that took flight (yeah, that’s the hippiest and trippiest thing ever!). I felt a smirk of satisfaction appear on my face, and despite trying to focus on Jen’s guidance, I couldn’t help but think “VICTORY!!!”.
To be fair, she did think she was about to get ritually sacrificed when, to finish the meditation, we were led into chanting a long and vibrant “Om“, but she’s (more or less) used to it now. Because believe it or not, meditation at Shine followed by French onion soup has become our tradition for the first Monday of the month!
My amazing lady has been learning French here and there since she met me. There’s nothing more adorable than her talking to me in Molière’s tongue – to her credit, she already has the accent down and she’s absolutely brilliant, so I have no doubt she’ll be fluent pretty soon. When we’re having conversations with other anglophones, I often forget a word in English, and look at her for help, speaking to her in French in the hopes she might get it (often, she does thanks to context clues. I also speak to my cat in French all the time, so E. picks up words here and there).
But there is, apparently, another language that I sometimes burst into. It includes, among others, the words “namasté”, “reiki”, “yoni”, “mudras”, “kundalini”, “chi”, “prana”, and “kombucha”. The other day, when I mentioned that we needed to reconnect our heart and sacral chakras, E. muttered, “oh God, she’s talking hippie again!”.
But like all cultural differences, rather than seeing them as barriers, we choose to use them to enrich our relationship. I hope that one day, we can pass them on to our future children (who will be fluent in French, English, and a language or two of their choice, FYI. I mean if my cat understands French, English, Arabic, German and Italian (and I bet she meows back in these languages), then I’m sure our kids can do the same).
Talking of children, E. told me, the other day, “I bet we will be summoned for a meeting at our kids’ school because they will bring your voodoo dolls, witch bottles, or something with a pentacle for show and tell.”
When that happens (I’m certain it will), I will definitely burst into hippie (with accompanying hand movements) and try to convince the bewildered principal and any teachers present to use more essential oils, carry crystals, and meditate to balance their chakras.
With that, my darlings, much love, and namasté!
*I use a lot of spices, including cayenne pepper, in my food, and I don’t shy away from anything that’s hot, including E.’s great-uncle’s homemade Trinidadian chili sauce! 🌶🌶🌶
**To a certain extent; I am pro-vaccination, believe traditional and modern medicine should go hand in hand, and will absolutely not give birth without an epidural! And I eat meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, love sugar and bread, and drink alcohol.
***Not to be confused with the religious practice of voodoo in Haiti.
****That’s how I came out as a lesbian to my dad when I was twenty-one, FYI. It was an interesting three-hour transatlantic conversation, and he had to have a couple of drinks, but he was okay with it ultimately.