Monday, February 5, 2007

And So It Goes

Well, I was so good and so productive today that I decided to continue my story.

I was first turned on to the "hippie" thing during my stay at Daybreak youth treatment center in Spokane, Washington in January of 1992. There was a girl there named Jenny who wore tie-dyes and Birkenstocks and listened to the Doors. I was still listening to Metallica, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols, but was entranced by this music that Jenny had on. She told me about hippies and their culture and I became intrigued.

During my stay in the half-way house I was spending most of my time at a coffee shop on the south side of town where all the freaks would hang out. As you can guess, I met some people that I instantly clicked with--they were misunderstood, mistaken, and abandoned.

It was during this time that I met a group of people that became significant in my life. They were pretty much vagrants, living in a downtrodden apartment on E street in Bellingham. Most of them had come from Salt Lake City and had established their own religion in which one of them was the Messiah and Bob Vila was God. I left the half-way house to live with them, which proved to be an interesting venture full of sudden twists and near-misses. There were about eight of us living in a one-bedroom apartment. We ate food from the foodbank and begged spare change off of people on the street. I thought this was the feeling of community that I craved. A sense of belonging to something. It wasn't long before I fell for one of them, a bitter gypsy from Salt Lake City who could play bass guitar like no one I've ever seen.

Well, I did see Rob Wright.

This gypsy was the center of my world for a summer. There wasn't anything I did apart from him. It was a weird love/hate thing. I loved him and he hated it, but something made him stay. There are two things this person did for me. He taught me how to play bass, which was something that I had been wanting for a while. He also talked extensively with me about the situation with my son. He was the only person willing to support me in my decision to give my son to my aunt and uncle for adoption.

At this point, it had been almost a year since Zack had been taken away from me and I was in a desperate situation. I hadn't followed through with the tasks I had been assigned by the court system. I bailed. What can I say? The only things that I hear in my head regarding that particular decision are the cliches that everyone throws at me for abandoning my first child. "You were young and you needed to have a chance to be a kid," "You made the best decision you could, you're too young to raise a child." All of this ultimately amounts to, "You failed," in my head. I know that what they are saying is the truth but none of it changes the fact that I fucked up this kid's life. I made the decision to be his mom, but like so many other projects, I quit half way through (not even half-way).

Fast forward to October of 1992...

My fling with the SLC gypsy lasted about six months or so, and when it ended I began spending lots of time with some hippies. One night I took hallucinogenic mushrooms for the first time and enjoyed what I experienced. The next day some people I knew were leaving to go to a Grateful Dead concert in Oakland, California, and a girlfriend of mine suggested that we go with them. There wasn't enough room in their car so we decided to hitch hike down to Oakland. I was 18 and my friend was 16. We had done a lot of hitch hiking together through town and even to and from Seattle a couple of times so we thought it wouldn't be a big deal. So we left town two days before this Halloween show: we stood at the freeway onramp with a duffel bag, a backpack, and my beat-up bass guitar that lived in a battered case with a broken handle, and stuck our thumbs out. We had two days to get to Oakland and we made it, although many experiences along the way tried to keep us from getting there.

This was just the beginning of many thousands of miles I would put on my thumb over the next couple of years.

I spent the entire following summer going to Grateful Dead shows, Rainbow Gatherings, and Healing Gatherings, feeling the vibe and coming into my hippiedom. By the time I met my daughter's father, I had dreadlocks and was wearing crystals and hippie dresses. I had traveled through Washington, Oregon, and Northern California on my thumb and spent time with some interesting characters. It was on my way up from some Dead shows in the Bay Area that I was taken to a Rainbow Gathering on the side of Mount Shasta that my life began to take a different shape.

I didn't know it at the time but my life was about to change drastically.

It was on the side of Mount Shasta that I met him. He walked up to me and offered me a string of beads in exchange for my skills as a seamstress: he needed his sleeping bag stitched up and I obliged. When I left the mountain later that day I knew I would see him again. And so it was in Ashland the next day that I ran into him again. We were immediately joined at the hip and spent the next four years in much that very way.

His name was Tom and he had grown up much the way I had--moving all over the place, never really settling down in one town to grow up and become whatever we were destined to become. This instant connection created some fun moments. We walked through the Safeway in Ashland, taking whipped cream containers off the shelves and sucking all the air out of them; ran all over the town, ducking in to different hippie busses and hanging out with different, random people. We didn't mean for it to last as long as it did. I made it clear to him that I wasn't interested in being anyone's girlfriend, that I was just looking for a good time and a friend to hang with. Next thing I knew, we jumped on a schoolbus full of hippies and headed up to Eugene for the next Grateful Dead show. This excursion lead us hitch hiking up to the northwest; he was going to see some friends in Seattle and I wanted to come home. Next thing I knew he was living with me in a VW van in my friend's back yard.

We had a very tumultuous relationship. He was a slacker and I was trying to make something better for us. We stayed in Bellingham for a few months with me working and him growing pot in our closet. All of a sudden, he decided he wanted to go down to San Francisco to try and make some money. I almost knew at this point that he was happy in his drug-dealerdom, but I didn't realize that he thought he could make a whole bunch of money in San Francisco so we could go to Mexico and buy a house and live on the beach for the rest of our lives. I also didn't know he liked to smoke crack.

To be continued...

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