Walking in Space

I’m pretty sure people are who they are when they are born. My parents were firmly entrenched in the counter-culture movement. I refused to wear jeans when I was 4 because they were what those “dirty people” wore. It sounds kind of prissy to me now. I liked grey flannel trousers like my grandfather’s. When I was 8, my mother started giving rides to hitchhiking hippies. “Mom,” I would plead, “This is illegal. They might be ax murderers.”

In particular, there was a hippie lesbian couple with three kids who were always hitchhiking on their way to Lake Tahoe or Truckee. Once a week, we’d see them standing near the entrance ramp and pick them up. I was sure they had kidnapped the kids, had dope in their bags, and probably committed countless other crimes. My mother insisted they weren’t ax murderers and I should be polite to everyone.

So I sat in the back of the station wagon with a peace sticker on the window, wearing my trousers and button down shirt, shocked by the free spirit of the hitchhiking family. I’m sure they thought my parents must have kidnapped me from an uptight square family.

The East Village Other, February 1971