Having grown up in a small suburb across the Hudson River from Manhattan, the temptation to go into the New York City was always there. According to my parents, who sheltered me a lot more than I shelter my own children today, there was never a good enough reason to go into the city, especially without an adult chaperone. However, as a teenager, I broke a lot of rules.
At the time when kids were saying, "We can be drafted to go to war, but we can't even vote," I was saying, "We can be drafted to go to war, but I'm not allowed to take a subway without my mommy."
Until I was an adult, I never saw the whole picture my parents saw; I never considered the dangers and my own naiveté. I just heard about a Peace Rally and I thought, "Peace rallies are for college kids. Peace Rallies might be a great way to meet some of those college kids. Peace Rallies are a way to meet guys."
I read a few articles about Viet Nam so I could talk about it, and I practiced giving the peace sign in front of the mirror to make sure I didn't look stupid. However, the communal, anti-materialistic, live-off-the-fruit-of-the-earth, free-loving, anti-armpit shaving, take-a-shower-with-a-friend life was not for me. All I wanted was a cute boyfriend with long hair. I was just "a material girl living in a material world."
The only thing "hippie" about me was what I wore, and even that was a false front. You know those pictures they put in our kids' social studies textbooks today with hippies wearing tie-dyed shirts and carrying "Make Love, Not War" signs back in the Sixties? I could have modeled for those pictures.
I had eyeglasses with different colored interchangeable lenses. Some days I looked at the world through blue plastic, and some days the world had a pink or a lilac hue. I even mixed them to see the world from two different perspectives. The key was that they had to match what I was wearing.
I wore my hip-hugger jeans low and tight. To zip them up, I had to lie flat on my back and had trouble standing up. Sitting down while I was wearing my tight jeans was not possible - nor was eating. The jeans were bleached in my mother's washing machine, and I hand-frayed each leg. It took a lot of work to get them to look worn in. I remember my mother being very upset about me buying expensive jeans for $20 that did not fit and that I was deliberately ruining. I give my own kids similar lectures these days except it's about how low they wear their jeans and why they have to have their boxers sticking out.
I had a Jimmy Hendrix floppy brimmed hat, I wore sandals in the winter, and I wore a lot beads.
I wore embroidered shirts from India or tie-dyed shirts that I created, using and ruining my mother's washing machine.
I had an expensive fringed suede jacket that cost me two months worth of baby-sitting money because my parents would not buy it for me. They said I would lose it.I did.
The most important part of my costume was my hair. Since going to Peace Rallies were planned well in advance so we could all coordinate our alibis, I had to get my hair just right. It had to look like I did nothing to it, and that took hours. "Twisted, beaded, braided" could take a day of preparation.
However, it was all a facade.
Inside I was a typical teenager looking for a place to fit in. Inside there was nothing hippie about me.
My children think I was a hippie because I am unconventional. They tell their friends that their parents used to be hippies. My cousin once showed my sons some pictures of me when I was a teenager wearing a yellow beaded suede vest and with my long hair frizzed out, and I guess to them, how I looked back then was proof enough. I have tried to explain to them that I really was not a hippie and it was all about meeting cute guys with long hair. Then they point to my husband, who has a lot less hair now than he had then, and they laugh at me.
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