The other day I was rummaging through my memory box when I stumbled upon a familiar small glass vial. Unfortunately it wasn’t filled with Angelina Jolie’s blood – just remnants of patchouli oil from a decade or so ago.
As I unscrewed the lid, the scent of what my mom so eloquently referred to as “DIRT,” thrust me into a trance-like state. I was overcome with visions of tie dye and hairy armpits. Oh yes, I’m talking about my senior trip.
You see, while most high school grads hit up Cancun as their destination of choice for the sex, drugs, and alcohol beautiful beaches and archeological ruins, I found myself yearning for the open road.
This is how I rolled, yo.
A cross country adventure was calling me . . . as was the music of the Grateful Dead. I was about to embark on a long strange trip across the U.S. of A. — for what would be the Dead’s last tour before Jerry Garcia died. (Debbie Downer, I know.)
But first I had to break the news to my family. It was . . . ah, awkward.
Me: Dad, I’m road trippin for a month and following the Grateful Dead. We cool yo?
Daddy’O: What are you going to do?
Me: Follow the Grateful Dead.
Daddy’O: What do you mean?
Me: I’m going to follow the Grateful Dead from California to Florida and then come home.
Daddy’O: But, why are you really going to Florida and then coming back to California?
Daddy’O: I mean, why do you have to go to Florida? What are you going to Florida for?
That conversation left me wondering if my dad believed we had ulterior motives for our trip . . . like smuggling drugs across the country. He is always thinking about the bottom line, that guy. But, alas, we weren’t that creative in our planning.
I could never compete.
After days of driving, we had finally made it! It was half past midnight when we secured a room at a super classy Motel 6. There we slept in sleeping bags on top of beds littered with cigarette holes and crack whore funk.
Miraculously, we survived the night without stepping on a hypodermic needle or catching crabs. It was close though.
The next morning we counted our pennies and realized we’d either need to start hooking to get some cash or start camping like real hippies – no more hotel rooms.
It was intimidating, I’m not gonna lie. We weren’t exactly predisposed to camping; in fact, we had never pitched a tent or not showered. It was problematic.
Eventually we found a campsite with plenty of open spots and ventured inside to reserve a spot. But, one look at us, and the attendants hollered “No Deadheads!” Peace and love bitches – we out.
But, because I’m not a giver upper, we used a payphone and called them bitches up. We made a reservation under “Kathleen” and assured them we loved Billy Ray Cyrus – especially his hair.
Hours later we rolled back in sporting different crochet berets, dancing bear shirts and hemp necklaces and were all like, “Yo bitches, we have reservations.”
After they kicked us out again and threatened us with pitchforks or some shit, we wandered through the campground and ran into some campers that were actually hippies disguised as hikers! Fucking genius.
These guys, I think their names were Cosmic, River and Windsong – or possibly just Erik, Rob, and Guadalupo – were hella cool and were going to let us sneak our tent on their dirt! We’d have to be all James Bondy and shit . . . so it would have to be after dark.
Our hippy friends cleaned up well too!
In the meantime, we decided to head on down to Beale Street where we could take in the sultry sounds of the local blues scene and use my fake ID. We indulged in a few pitchers then danced around in circles with our hands flailing around like we just found Jesus.
Late into the night we ventured back to the campground. There my friend and I concealed our identities with ski masks and hid ambiguously in front of the fire pit. “A little to the left, ah right, now an inch to the left,” we ordered our hippy friends as they pitched our tent.
I didn’t want to micro-manage, but those hippies really needed to trade in their pot for some crack rock and get their asses moving. “Chop chop bitches,” we shouted until finally 10 minutes later our accommodations were arranged to our liking.
This was my wing.
Once we were comfortably in our nammies, I clapped twice and the indoor chandelier faded into darkness. I quickly snuggled in under my down comforter and quietly faded off to sleep. Little did I know that my sweet dreams of a blonde, dreadlock flowing Jeremy London would leave me waking to a total nightmare. . . (dun, dun, DUN)
The mayhem began when I awoke the next afternoon to the putrid smell of body order and an overextended bladder. My anxiety immediately heightened –public restroom use would be required. There was no getting around it. Gross.
It makes perfect sense now.
As I stumbled hurriedly out of the tent, I was surprised to see our hippy friends closing up shop. But before I could inquire, I noticed a bright orange sign taped to our tent. It said, “GET OUT YOU MUTHA FUCKIN HIPPIES EVICTION NOTICE.”
Our hippy friends had received one as well. Apparentlah our new friends’ kindness was not appreciated by the campground owners so we were all booted. Karma, bitches.
Because all the other campgrounds were sold out, it was decided that our only alternative was to find a spot next to the van down by the river. Suddenly public restrooms didn’t seem quite that bad.
After packing up our shit and flippin them bitches the bird, we headed to the box office to purchase our tickets for that evening’s show. Regrettably, and not surprisingly, it was sold out.
We weren’t worried though, there’d be plenty for sale during the parking lot “pre-show.”
In fact, when we rolled up to the lot late that afternoon we felt confident that tickets would easily present themselves. We moseyed up and down aisle after aisle – passing by the didgeridoos and the grilled cheese sandwiches – but were unsuccessful in finding tickets.
As darkness grew we became increasingly concerned. Until, finally, we found a dude with two tickets. There was a catch though. It involved a drum circle . . . and a winner. Although I was much more fluent in tambourine, I decided to give it a go.
But before we could even get started, our drum off was interrupted by police on horseback and a shitload of pepper spray. Hippies were all like “Ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh!” It was messed up.
Needless to say we ran our pussy asses away like lightening. And, although the concert was a lost cause, the fun was just beginning!
In fact, the night ended with a mix of some military folks and a dash of dreadheads. Random, I know – kinda like me.
To be continued . . .