Spare Change of Circumstances

While I’m waiting to hear from Peter, I meet a man who seems enchantingly desirable to me. He is dark and graceful, a sometimes member of the street theater collective Angels of Light. I have no distractions to obsession, Caitlin is halfway to Boston and I am marking time. The man makes himself at home and tries to persuade me to stay in California, worrying me like a mouse, forget about leaving, forget about everything but me, he wheedles.

And I am a little tempted, I must admit. He is almost good enough to make me to stay except that Caitlin is on the other side of the country.

Finally, I get the telephone call from Peter, they are all in Boston and ready for us to come.  I gather up Joanne and her little boy and buy plane tickets with the last of the welfare money. I whisper to the man one early morning a few days later, as he lies in the bed, he grunts, only half awake. I say, I have to run out for cigarettes, I’ll be back in a few minutes. He rolls over in acknowledgement and goes back to sleep.  I close the door of the house all quiet, close the door on that chapter of my life, say goodbye forever to San Francisco and the man.

Unfortunately I have to leave behind my Indian patchwork quilt with the sewn on mirrors because taking it off the bed to go to the grocery store might have made him suspicious.

The flight is uneventful. Peter and Stephen meet us at Logan and drive us to where they are staying, a big, ramshackle place just outside Boston. Peter is already entangled with a new girl who is very noisy when she makes love, it especially gets on Joanne’s nerves because she’s not used to Peter’s ways yet. Stephen is happy to see me, he missed me so much, he is goatlike in his glee. Caitlin is none the worse for wear after her trek cross-country and Loopy does a back flip.

We acquire a car, a ramshackle 1965 International Travel-all station wagon, roomy enough for all of us. We need to make plans. We are broke but we have to buy all the equipment we will need to start a commune in the countryside and then we have to find the countryside.

Stephen has a brilliant idea, not very honest, but that makes it more exciting. He is nice but lacking moral fiber.  He tells us that we can create fake identities, back then you can just find out a dead person’s name and order his birth certificate from the Registry Division, then with the birth certificate get a driver’s license and social security card in the dead person’s name and open a checking account, then write checks on the account for a lot of money even if you just have fifty cents in the bank. Then you take all the nice things you bought and get out of town.

So that’s what we do and it works.  I wear a blonde wig  to go to the bank, and get all dressed up and even wear panty hose when I shop.  Stephen finds a sports coat.  We go on a Saturday so nobody can call the bank and buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes and sleeping bags and blankets and baby supplies and tools from Filene’s and Sears and Jordan Marsh, all in one day. We write checks for everything, nobody even looks at us funny, and we feel not a glimmer of guilt, it is righteous to steal from the rich. None of the old rules apply to us, we are the cutting edge of revolution, the flower children of the disenfranchised and entitled to free drugs and all the caviar we can carry.

Peter’s sister meets us in Boston while we are there, she is a Weatherman, a real Marxist politico, very serious and like us has turned her back on her middle class heritage. She lives in a flat in Cambridge with twenty other people, the floor is covered with mattresses and garbage and they only eat junk food as a gesture of solidarity with the proletariat.

One day she decides to raid her parent’s house on Long Island and donate everything to the Movement. She and her boyfriend rent a U-Haul and drive it down when she knows the family will be gone on vacation, back the truck up to the front door, and start hauling out all the sterling and paintings and rugs and antiques, everything they can carry. The truck is half full before the police arrive.

About Karen To and Fro

Everything you didn't want to know about me!
This entry was posted in back to the land, Hippies, Memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

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