In 1970 I was an ambivalent hippie trailing along behind my husband on his travels, working and taking care of our little daughter while he went back to college. We had trifled with a beatnik lifestyle a few years earlier, then gone Midwest middle class and bourgeois for awhile, but finally we both succumbed to the insistent lure of drugs, sex and rock and roll.
I didn’t like drugs nearly so much as I liked needles, it turned out. For about six months when he was attending Franconia College in New Hampshire, I worked days at Littleton Hospital as a collections clerk dunning poor people for payment and spent my nights insinuating myself with college freaks. Husband gulped downers, smoked weed and screwed coeds while I injected any drug available, mostly speed, the whole process of inserting the needle really the crux of my experience.
After the first semester at college we planned to transfer to Goddard in Plainfield, Vermont for spring term and took a break in between to visit my inlaws. Once there in the family’s historic manor house perched on the dunes of the Atlantic, I got sick. Really, really sick, and although my memory is faint after all these years, I recall quite agonizing pain and yellow skin. I spent a week at the hospital while my mother in law and her housekeeper took affectionate care of the baby and my husband enjoyed a winning combination of indolence and narcotics.
When I was released from the hospital all recovered, the doctor told me that they suspected hepatitis but I had tested negative for both A and B. I understood from what he said that the whole business was inconclusive and immediately put the issue out of my mind, as it was apparent that I had shaken the illness off and was ready to go on to more exciting experiences.