We only stay in Bethlehem for a semester because Peter decides to attend Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, a school which people have actually heard of for something besides drugs. It has a real administration, real teachers, and history that goes back more than five years. Before the Vietnam war Goddard used to be tiny, just known in progressive education circles for its student-directed curricula, but by the time we get there the draft has tripled enrollment to almost 2000 and thousands more flock into Plainfield because it’s now a center of counterculture in Vermont. The shabby staid village explodes with hippies and freaks and bearded drifters, hangers-on and hitchhikers in overalls stand on every corner, and I learn how to love LSD and carry Caitlin on my hip. Along the way, the baby carriage disappears.
We rent a trailer in Plainfield, an old two-tone metal one with crank windows and a cow pasture out back. I manage to get an office job at the college and find a babysitter for Caitlin because I am still expected to bring home the bacon while Peter goes to classes.
In May 1970, after we are there for about four months, the Kent State shootings hit the news and students at Goddard strike in protest. I am swept away by the excitement too and go on strike in solidarity. Goddard applauds the students’ activism but fires me for not coming to work. I am shocked, I can’t believe that the liberal establishment is treating me so callously but on the other hand I am not sorry to be unemployed. Peter and I have been caught up in a kaleidoscope of rebels, flower people, dopers, prophets, a bohemian melting pot and we are swimming in communal euphoria. You can crash at anyone’s house, hitchhike a ride with strangers, get naked in the woods and trip on psilocybin, and when we tell people we are married they look at us as if monogamy is faintly disreputable and a little corny.
Then things fall apart. Peter starts sleeping with every girl he can charm into bed and I find I now have no energy to storm the college looking for elusive other women. It is obvious that there are more leaks than I have fingers, and really I no longer care, I am frustrated and have all I can do taking care of Caitlin. Peter is useless when it comes to her and I am teetering on the edge of not much better.