Hippie ChickAugust 13, 2009
[This is the most recently published essay in my column in my local paper, A Slice of Life]
Back in the early ‘70’s I thought I was 4 to 8 years too young. Oh, to have the freedom to be college-aged. To be able to live in an old house out in the country, drive a VW van with flower stickers on it, wear blue jeans and peasant shirts and wash my hair in the rain. I imagined I’d live off the land, make my own clothes, and raise naked little nature-loving children. It sounded so earthy, so basic, so natural. My heart’s desire was to be a hippie chick.
Jump ahead 35 years. Last spring my husband and I tap danced to a 1973 hit in the local dance recital. I found hippie costumes for us. My husband felt rather silly. I, however, felt remarkably comfortable in my ‘70’s look. Oh, the clothes were horrible, but it brought back a rush of those earlier desires. This is what I thought I would grow up to be, a 50 year old hippie chick.
So how far am I from my teen dreams? My teen dreams never actually included a career. I don’t know where I thought the money was going to come from to pay for the VW van and flower stickers – or the clothes for my naked little children. I ended up as a college teacher, which I hazard to guess is where a lot of hippies and hippie-wanna-bes ended up. The schedule is flexible and the pay allows me to maintain a comfortable life-style but without any worries about investments and portfolios. I also happen to really like it. I think running through daisy fields day after day would have gotten old.
Oh, my hippie lifestyle would have included some labor. There would have been that garden I was living off of. Maybe I would have raised chickens too, and had a milk cow. I know I would have named every chicken in the yard though. And once the chicken has a name there is no way I could have eaten it – so I would have been a vegetarian. Perhaps I would have been healthier as a hippie chick.
We do have a garden, a fairly large vegetable garden that feeds us well during the summer and keeps us in tomatoes and potatoes through out the year. We also have livestock – llamas – and true to form, they are named and I don’t eat them. And we have bees. I haven’t named them yet, but still don’t plan to eat them, although I do intend to eat some of their honey now and again.
I drive a small station wagon, not a VW van – I can’t afford a VW van. I have magnets with earthy messages on my car, but no flower stickers. If I could find a flower sticker, though, it would be on it.
I do have children. They are no longer little and no longer run around naked. They are nature-loving and I’m glad for that.
Did I get the old house in the country? The house is old and being on the edge of town makes for a great compromise on the “out in the country” plan. Before moving here, my husband and I had looked at and seriously considered a 60 acre spread that would have truly been “out in the country.” If we had purchased it, during our first winter we would have been snowed in until spring. I think hippie-dom would have been harder than I anticipated.
I don’t look or behave much like a 1970’s hippie; that would be silly in 2009 anyway. But I think being a hippie was and is more of a state of mind than a state of being. I don’t need the love beads and the water buffalo sandals to be environmentally conscious and live close to nature. However, I still prefer to wear blue jeans, and if you see a nice peasant shirt on sale, let me know.