My Christmas Miracle

Every house had to chop wood for winter

The grownups seemed pretty happy about “Christmas” but Santa or Jesus were not characters we worshiped or fussed about too much. I think my mom told me that Santa was a “spirit”. If the grownups had a religion, it seems to me to be; “Have good vibes”, “don’t be into the juice” and smoke pot. Constantly, over and over and over on an every day basis, my mom said to me; “Treat everyone how you want to be treated”. I think that was our religion. She told me about karma and how everything you do comes back to you. And God was in everything, even rocks.

I saw the Christmas pictures my mom had from before when she lived out there in fairy tale real world with a plump, dazzling tree covered in amazing ornaments with piles of pretty boxed presents wrapped in beautiful paper. It looked so incredible I could barely believe it. I pestered her a lot, interrogating her about these Christmases and why I missed out on them and all those presents. I wondered what was in those beautiful, wrapped, perfect looking square boxes. I wondered why and how my sister had gotten so many presents. I was enamored with this one picture of her sitting under the unbelievable tree in a pretty nightgown in the middle of an overabundance of presents. How did they get that many presents? How was that possible!? Deborah was annoyed with me. Even as a little kid, I could tell she thought I was being shallow or materialistic or something. She’d roll her eyes and sigh heavily and snap at me sounding disgusted and annoyed saying “The presents weren’t all for us. They were for other people too”. So? We have like 50 people in our house and I’d never seen anything near close to presents on that scale and in that kind of pretty wrapping and a tree like that! I wanted to be there so bad.

Why wasn’t I there when Christmas was like THAT?

We had a tree in the house, a pine tree the grownups cut down from somewhere, but it wasn’t like the tree in the picture. It was bare and scraggly looking compared to that fat, juicy tree. And we didn’t have amazing ornaments. Our house was Dogwood Blossom, and hence the name, we had Dogwood trees which they picked the little, hard red berries from (that we weren’t suppose to eat – I tried, they tasted awful) to make berry chains for the tree. That was our tree decoration. I helped with a needle and thread but it was way too difficult. I tried and tried because I really wanted us to have a pretty tree and it was so exciting that they were letting me use a needle but the berries were so tiny and hard, it was almost unbearable. Endless, tedious, difficult labor of stringing hard, tiny berries would only yield the most pathetic, insignificant amount on the string. How the heck would I ever get enough on there to complete the whole string? Not only is it not worth all this work, it’s impossible! The popcorn was easier to pierce with the needle but how could I put popcorn on a string when I’d rather eat it because we barely ever get to eat something that good?

My only main memory of Christmas from the 4 years of living in a bus at Dogwood Blossom (from ages 3 to 7ish) was the year I went Christmas caroling. I must have been around 4-5ish. The whole house was in a buzz about going “Christmas caroling”. I found out that meant going to other houses and singing songs and they might give us treats! Oh my god, I had to go. My mom wasn’t going though, she was staying home with Sky. This was going to be scary without her, but, I still had to go. I’d be okay with the people from my house. It was mostly bigger people going. It got dark and my mom got me all dressed to go, even the horrible sock wrinkles couldn’t stop me. Our group of people walked across 1st Road to our neighbors house. I think the grownups had papers with the words to the songs. I think someone even gave me one. But I couldn’t read yet. And, crap! What am I even doing here? I don’t know these songs! I’ve never even heard them before! My favorite song is Beautiful Dreamer about mermaids. But I really wanted to sing with everyone. I can’t read and I don’t know the songs, how embarrassing, what am I going to do? What if people notice that I’m not singing and don’t know the words? I stood there amidst the legs, desperate to sing with everyone. Maybe I even prayed.

Then a Christmas miracle happened. A miracle I could hardly believe. This group of singing was like a wave – that I was a part of. All I had to do was open my mouth and let the words come out. I had no idea how it was happening but, somehow, it was happening and it was the most amazing thing I’d ever experienced in my life. I didn’t even know the words but they were just coming out of my mouth right along with everyone! I was riding the song wave, letting it sweep me up and carry me along. I couldn’t believe it! I was elated to no end in pure awe of this fantastic, mysterious dynamism that enabled me to sing songs I didn’t even know. Somehow, I had transcended not knowing. It was the most wonderful, thrilling phenomenon ever. I could barely contain myself and had to control my legs from jumping up and down in utter delight from feeling some kind of benevolent, all knowing power flow through me. I let the higher force take over my mouth and sang song after song that I didn’t know. I didn’t even have a clue what word was coming next, but they came out correctly every time! Oh my god, this is so much fun and way too amazing. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom.

After the people from the big house stood there smiling and listening to us sing, they did give us treats! I was afraid there might not be enough and they might not see me down here in the legs but there was and they did! They gave me a candy cane!!! Holy shit! This is the best night in my entire life!

If I had ever gotten a candy cane before, when I visited my Grandparents or something, I can’t remember. I don’t know if I’ve ever even had any unattainable, almost mythological candy that I only see in story books, at all before. How does this house have candy!? What kind of imperial people live here that they have candy to give us? My mom passionately despises sugar, she never lets us eat it, not even a sprinkle on disgusting oatmeal, she seems to think that candy and anything with sugar is vile – but this is a special night and this is my candy cane that I earned. I can’t believe how lucky I am. The candy cane is a miracle all by itself but the magic of song lyrics that I didn’t even know just flowing out of my mouth!? Wow! What was that!?

They might have kept going down the street to the other houses but I had to tell my mom about this. I run back to my bus holding tight to my candy cane, bursting with excitement to tell my mom all about what just happened. I try to explain but I don’t think she gets just how amazing what I’m telling her is. I tell lots of people over the years about it but no one really gets it or they don’t believe me. But I know it happened. It was just incredible, an ambrosial rapture of melodic channeling , it even out-shined obtaining the wondrous, story book candy cane by an unmeasurable long shot.

That was so mind blowing. I am so happy.

I’m sure I slept snug and cozy in my little bus bed with a gigantic smile all night that night which I then tucked into my heart to keep for forever to never forget the real, unexplainable magic I experienced that one miraculous Christmas.

Curse of the Abominable Sock Wrinkles

We had a silver pitcher that lived on top of our little woodstove in our bus. When it was too cold for outside bucket baths, we washed with rags using the hot water from the silver pitcher. My mom cherished that pitcher with it’s thick handle and elegant, curved mouth for pouring. It was like one of her prize possessions. It made her happy to provide us with a luxury like hot water up in our bus. And she loved rags. And hankies.
Once in a while we’d take baths in the house. The bathroom in Dogwood Blossom was large with a brick fireplace in the wall. To heat up water you had to make a fire in it outside of the house and wait for the water to heat. The bathroom was really only a bathroom with a bathtub in it. Swinging saloon shutter like doors were right in the middle of the door frame so it was not much privacy for bathing. Us young kids could see right under the little doors with the bathtub in a direct line of sight.
When I got to bathe in the house in the real bathtub after a grownup would make a fire to heat up water, I stayed in there as long as I possibly could until the water was freezing and I was wrinkled as a prune. I didn’t know what a prune was, but my mom told me I was wrinkely as one so I knew prunes must be really wrinkley. I still wanted to stay in, splashing around, emerged in all that glorious water, staring in wonderment at the bumpy wrinkles on my hands, but they made me get out.
Then I’d get my teeth brushed. My mother was a tooth brushing fanatic. She always told us about the invisible tiny bugs you can’t see that will eat food out of your teeth while you sleep and then go poop and pee on your teeth and rot them and the most important thing in the whole entire world, is to always brush your teeth every single night. I can’t remember what she usually brushed my teeth with but when we got toothpaste, it was a treat. A man would use his pocket knife to slice open a completely flattened tube of toothpaste while dozens of people stood around hoping to get a miniscule scraping of it’s rare, sweet insides.
We got clothes from the piles of old clothes that other people didn’t want anymore and would put on the side of the road. My mom was diligent in looking though those piles to keep my brother and I in clothes and shoes that fit and even more diligent keeping them clean. She washed them with a metal washboard outside of our bus while she sang. Then she’d hang them on the clothesline by the house. I can almost imagine her as the spitting image of Snow White with birds and bunnies flocking to help as she washed and hung clothes – bewitchingly beautiful with long, black hair, humming and singing while she worked, worked, worked with the savvy voice of a gifted songstress that few are blessed with. Then she’d grumble and hiss and complain about one of the house ladies who took our clothes off the line and dressed her kids in them. The kids who’s faces she would wash, noses she would blow and diapers she would change complaining how the parent wasn’t doing it. I liked watching her wash the really dirty face of this one little boy because it was amazing, like taking a mask off, seeing his smiling, cute face get all clean and pretty – she never let my face get that dirty or my nose get that runny. I didn’t understand her hatred for “filthiness” because the dirty boy seemed perfectly happy with a dirty face, I didn’t see how it was hurting him. She scrubbed our faces and blew our noses like it was religious doctrine. My brother and I weren’t allowed to sniffle like the other kids, we had to blow our noses. She seemed to take work more seriously than most people and did too much to the point of being quite grumpy about “coming home from working all day to find dirty kids and dirty dishes that someone else should have done” that she would then succumb to doing even though she was tired and it wasn’t her turn. She complained to me and Sky. We were her confidants.
In cold weather, she made me wear two layers of socks. I hated it. I begged to be spared from putting on two pairs but no, I had to wear two sock layers and I had to wear a hat. A sickening feeling would fill my gut, knowing that because of the terrible two saggy sock layer situation, the horrible wrinkles were coming. The foul wrinkles that I would have to walk on, stuck between the sole of my foot and the tight shoe. Once she imprisoned my feet into the shoes, there was no escaping. The abhorrent, detestable sock wrinkles were coming to torture me. I must devise a plan to be free of this detestable wrinkle curse.
I got dreamy eyed about the day I would tie my own shoes. Bigger kids who could tie their own shoes, wow, they are so cool. I absolutely cannot wait until I can tie my shoes, it’s going to be the greatest achievement ever. I indulge in fantasies, picturing me tying my shoes all by myself. When I can do that kind of magic, I am going to be so flippin’ cool. Tie shoes I must. Oh, exalted, unfathomable shoe tying ability – you will be mine!
One of the places I have to walk to with wrinkley socks is The Greenhouse when it’s too cold for Sunday Services to be in The Meditation Meadow. They do the same stuff as in the Meadow – close their eyes forever, then awesome OMing then sit and listen to Stephen talk and talk and talk about “vibes” and “energy” and “being into the juice” and who knows what – except, unlike the spacious open meadow, everyone is packed in shoulder to shoulder among the gravelly rows encased in glass. None of his words are much interest to me, he talks slow and methodically, it’s all pretty boring. He drones on about what it means to “be stoned with each other” and says stuff like “It’s far out, man” or “That’s really where it’s at”. And everyone chuckles. As I study all the engaged faces who don’t notice me looking at them, I secretly wish to myself that they would just OM some more. The OMing is so awesome. Far beyond boring words.

Grownups aren’t Gods


It was probably at The Gate where I found adult comic books which I guess stunned me so much I can’t clearly remember where it was I actually found them, but I can extrapolate that it was probably The Gate where I would have been able to, first of all, have the opportunity to find something of this nature and second, to be in an environment enabling me to secretly look at them by myself without other kids around and while grownups were busy. A lot of my most naughtiest adventures were to be had at The Gate.

We had story books but we did not have comic books. So to discover them was wondrous, mmm, a crinkly papery cartoon format more intriguing than a regular word-ridden kids book, so much captivating visual stimulation packed into every inch, obligating your eyes to look at it’s irresistible, busy, exaggerated splendor. Picture galore, so cool!

I might have found these comics under one of the guest mattresses in the upstairs room which were totally bare except for a few mattresses on the floor for visitors…or maybe someone on the late night shift stashed them behind the couch or maybe it wasn’t even at The Gate at all, I have no idea, all I remember is that I sure did find them and sure did stare at them with big, speechless eyes. I knew they were naughty and not for kids but the pictures were so fun to look at all cartoony and bubbly and crazy. There were these silly hippie guy characters who smoked a lot of pot. And there was penises. Big bulging cartoon penises that made my eyes pop out of my head. Why was there penises the size of people? The hairy main characters even look like penises. Gee wiz, someone sure likes penises a lot.

 I didn’t tell anyone about looking at those and only saw them a few times…mostly I read kid books. My mom had several story books in our bus…she loved books and I think had given most of her collection to the school library upon moving here but still had a few big ones from when she was a girl that had lots of stories in them. And we had Little Golden Books. One time after my mom read me and this other girl a story about this bird that thought the sky was falling it gave us the idea that maybe if we ran up and down the path from my bus to the house acting super freaked out, screaming “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” that maybe we could trick some people into thinking the sky really was falling. We knew it was going to be difficult because obviously, if you look at the sky, you can see that it is not falling. But, if we were able to freak out enough to the point where people believed that we ourselves really believed it, then we could get them to believe it too. If someone saw how serious we were, they wouldn’t even bother to look at the sky, they would just start freaking out with us! Ohhh, this is going to be so fun to trick someone! We are doing such a good job really freaking out about the sky falling. We are really screaming loud, someone is definitely going to believe us! Oh man, it’s going to be so funny. Someone passes by us, a grownup from the house. We are doing so great, flailing our arms around and everything. Why does he only look slightly amused? Can’t he see how serious we are? Ok, maybe if we run a little faster up and down the path and flail our arms a little harder and scream a little louder, they’ll believe us. We got this. Run, flail, scream – with everything we have, as hard as we can. People in the house will hear our totally convincing melodramatic alert that the sky is falling and come out out and freak out with us until they realize we tricked them really good.

 We try with all our might but no one believes us, darn it, this is so disappointing! What a loss for them! If only they would take us seriously and let their imaginations work enough to consider that we might be giving them a real warning, we could all have a jolly good laugh. Oh well, we give up. Boring adults.

 For a while I thought adults were Gods that knew everything. I looked up to all of them with so much awe, agape at their huge size with their heads almost in the sky, presuming big people had all the answers… but this conviction slowly became unraveled. During the process of disenchantment, many times I had thought perhaps the adults who had exhibited themselves to not be all knowing masters of life, were playing some sort of reverse mind game or were just pretending to be stupid for some sort of higher reason that I couldn’t yet fathom… but it was becoming regrettably apparent, even though they acted like they were always right and knew so much, that some of them were actually quite dumb, not Gods at all! Conceivably, even stupider than little kids like me who barely knew anything and had only been at this learning life puzzle for a couple of years! I can’t remember exactly what happened the first time it really hit me as a sad but undeniable revelation I had to accept, that some adults were indeed ignorant and lost, but I remember it was out at the water pump between the outhouse and the house with this random lady I didn’t even know. We had some sort of incident as she took the liberty to scold me, presumably for the sheer reason of domineering a little kid to feel some narcissistic control and power, in which it dawned on me that while grownups were suppose to have all the answers, this lady certainly did not! She is mean and rude and quite frankly, an idiot. I kind of felt sorry for her, dismayed that she was so blind and couldn’t see reality past her own nose even though she was a big grownup. Wow. Grownups aren’t Gods. How the heck am I suppose to learn everything if the big, tall grownup people who are suppose to know and teach me everything, don’t know everything!? Crap! And worse than not even knowing everything, they force their insane delusions on little kids!? Double crap! I was really counting on them to teach me everything, I had taken so much comfort in placing all my trust in these big, huge people that towered so high above me. I earnestly want to learn absolutely everything. What a set back! Are we seriously just floundering through life with no tangible all knowing bona fide grownup Gods to graciously guide us? Big people are just floundering too? Crap. Crap. Crap!

Yarking was better than OMing

At some point we started the tradition of yarking. Yarking was as good as OMing, even better because it wasn’t so serious; it was fun for everyone of all ages, with the same incredible, mesmerizing effect of intertwined voices becoming one.
A yark could break out at any time, like if someone saw something gross or hurt their finger chopping wood or something and yelled “yark”, a spontaneous yark session might start up, but usually it happened after dinner around dusk when everyone in the household would go outside to stand together and all simultaneously yell “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRKKK” at the top of our lungs, each person holding it as long as they could, just like an OM.
Then, after being satisfied with our strong, fantastic yark job, everyone would be quiet, attentively listening, with expectant, giddy faces, for the other yarks to start echoing around the different valleys from all the other houses. With perked ears, we’d soak in all the other yarks coming from numerous directions, becoming more delighted with every new yark that would join in the gleeful avocation. The close by yarks and the way far off distant yarks, every yark you could hear or barely hear, was an invisible yet priceless jewel of reciprocal gratification. A far reaching, profound testament of our collective attainment resounding through the hills.
After a brief interlude of listening to the incoming yarks, we’d yark back again. Everyone would take the biggest breath possible, tilt our heads up to the rest of the world and let another long, drawn out “YAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRK” sail out of our wide open mouths to twist and spiral together -all of the deep manly tones to the high, little kid tones and all the tones in between- formed into one illustrious entity of sound permeating the air, winding through the trees to find it’s way to the receptive ears of our fellow yarkers.
I absolutely loved standing there yarking, completely forgetting about everything else, absorbed into this group of people as we all become one consecrated yarking force, this is everyone at their best – no nonsense, just yarking, I love them all. I love everything. I’m so happy to be part of this bizarre, wonderful communion that I’m just one big smile, convinced that life doesn’t get any better than a good after dinner yark.

Ghosts at The Gate

Several times a boy, I think his name was Vernon, came over to our bus to get babysat. He was my age, we were the same size and he had hair just as blonde as mine. I thought he was my boyfriend. We took naps in the middle of the afternoon together in my bed wearing our diapers. He was always nice and fun, I adored him. I think we even held hands and whispered secrets. He must be my boyfriend because we look almost just like each other, he’s like a boy me!
(99% sure the boy on the far right is Vernon)
I can barely remember the huge, two story Visitors Tent up near The Store. I slightly recall the awe I felt from the green army canvas noisily slapping in the wind, making me want to hold my moms hand tighter and not get too near it. The outhouse in that area, next to a main path, was an opulent outhouse – it was made from concrete blocks instead of wood and actually painted, with a little white sink on the side and had private stalls with two separate doors, not shared stalls. But it was stinkier, with the poop piled high because more people used it. I only used it if I really had to because I felt like I was imposing on someone else’s first class outhouse and the poop mountain was so gross and intimidating.
Men with a big truck called “The Shitter” would come suck up the poop out of all the outhouses with a huge, fat tube, but I think they had trouble keeping up. Seeing The Shitter Truck go by was really exciting. The times it came to our neighborhood, all the kids would come running gathering around, like it was a big holiday event, to watch it suck the poop up. The Shitter is here! Yay!
shitter truck
The Gate was really far away from all the houses, way up past “The Pond” which was surrounded by trees that I suspected were way bigger than all the other trees because they had so much water to drink.
Being the main portal to the world outside, The Gate was very busy. There was an older gate, but this was the one everyone used now, no one used the old one anymore down by the distinguished white buildings where the grownups have important meetings and where The Bank Lady is. That gate was tiny and I couldn’t imagine how it could have handled all this serious gate action. While at The Gate, it was often like witnessing a parade, with long lines waiting to go in and out, an eccentric cast of all types of transportation apparatuses.
There always had to be people on Gate duty around the clock to record all the ins and outs, answer phone calls, talk to visitors, open and close the gate. When my mom worked there, she did not have time for me, she was always doing something so I kept myself busy. Sometimes there’d be other kids there and a place to play out in back of the gatehouse near a pretty outhouse that had a rainbow on it which made it one of my favorite outhouses. There were some special rooms that were always really clean which made me feel like I had to carefully creep through them. The kitchen was weird because it had no windows and was a more normal kitchen than our makeshift kitchens. The whole building was weird because it was made with bricks and had nice floors and windows and things, not like our makeshift houses… so being up there, ever so slightly brushing against the outside world, watching traffic and visitors, was peculiar and fascinating. There was a back room, it was narrow and long and I liked it because it was light and felt warm, not cold, dark and lonesome like the other rooms. But I didn’t get to go in there, the grownups would have meetings back there where they would laugh and smoke. They also liked to laugh in groups on the big porch.
When my mom would ask a driver of one of the many kinds of vehicles that came through – buses, vans, trucks, semi’s, cars, tractors, wagons – where they were going so she could jot it down in the log book, the one I remember, because I found it so amusing was, “Mount P”.  Mount Pee?  There was somewhere out there called Mount Pee? Too funny. Little did I know they were abbreviating a nearby town called Mt. Pleasant.
Sometimes I helped open and close the big metal gate when someone would need in or out, which we also liked to swing on. The nice grownups would let us get on it for a ride. I think I had to mop the floors in the special, weird rooms and special, weird kitchen. It had nice floors – contrasted to all the other house’s bare wood plywood floors with nails and cracks. I was relieved when I’d finally finish making sure I had dragged the wetness over every inch. Relieved that I could finally run away from those dark, empty, cold rooms that were even spookier than the upstairs attic-esque guestrooms. For some reason I thought The Gate was haunted.
Usually most grownups did not act very interested in what I had to say. They mostly just told me what to do and what not to do but one day at the gate I made friends with a visitor man. He was very interested in talking to me and wanted me to tell him stuff. While the other people were busy with other things; my mom working at the desk that lined the front windows, people talking on the porch, people going up and down the stairs, we sat on the couch talking about amazing things. I wouldn’t usually talk to a grownup like this but he acted like I was equal and what I had to say was truly important even though I was just a stupid little kid and he was a big, smart grownup; like we were real friends despite our massive age difference. The small couch was in the main room against the stairs, he sat reclining on the right side, I sat on the left side with my legs dangling and my hands in my lap. I told him about ghosts. I told him you couldn’t see them if you looked right at them but you could see them if you didn’t look right at them. He believed me. He said that was called “looking out of the corner of your eye”. Yes, I agreed. We looked out of the corner of our eyes. I think I saw a glob of light about the size of a person pass by! Yikes! I didn’t want to see the ghosts! But this was so provoking having such deep, stimulating banter with an adult who obviously not only liked, but respected me and my silly, childish wisdom. He was so nice, my friend.
When the bustle of the day would die down and the sky would start turning pink behind the trees, we would start the long, long walk home. I really hoped something would come by and give us a ride. But not until we passed by the neato pond with the gargantuan trees. We could stop there and get a drink from the water pump and I could relish this ethereal place for a few moments, staring at the dark pond under the trees, transfixed and enchanted by it’s watery secrets, mysteries that maybe the croaking frogs hiding in the grass had the answers to…
After passing the pond, we cross to the other side of the road to the little path in the grass hugging the fence of the horse pasture. Deborah likes to sing while we walk, she likes to sing all the time, she knows so many songs. If someone comes along this skinny path towards us, that I will have to shyly say hi to as we pass because everyone says hi, there won’t be enough room on this narrow path, who will move to the side? If it’s someone on a horse, we will, but if it’s someone else walking, who will it be? A person on a horse comes much faster and it’s over with quick, but another person walking; the process is slow, you can see them in the distance, making the agony of anticipating an awkward passing last and build…until you finally pass them and it really wasn’t bad at all. The passing actually went quite smoothly, even pleasant. Most people here are pretty nice.
We make our way around the horse pastures towards the important, superior white buildings and The Horse Barn. Hopefully we’ll get a ride before we get to  Band Land, The Laundromat and Motor Pool. If we don’t get a ride, we’ll definitely have a few more pass bys of other people walking. I must trot to keep up with my brisk mom. I wish I could ride in a baby backpack like my brother.

Attack of the Flying Beast

When my mom would go work in the fields sometimes I’d go too. A grownup would bring all us kids on a little adventure walk through the fields into the tree line while our parents worked.
Or sometimes we’d just play nearby. Sometimes we’d help. There was a strawberry field next to a corn field. Getting lost and discombobulated in the corn with all the kids was exciting, the corn was so tall, way above our heads. I tried to help pick strawberries but it was so hard not to eat them. We weren’t suppose to eat them, just pick them. And I couldn’t find any red ones, only green ones and even though the green ones weren’t ready, I still couldn’t help eating them. I knew I wasn’t suppose to pick the green ones…but…I really want to eat one. Is anyone looking? I’m just going to pick just this one and eat it. Ew, it’s so sour! Maybe this next green one will taste better. Ew, it’s sour too! Still gonna eat it though. Man, I so wish I could find a red one. But I can’t, they’re all green. Ok, I’ll try another green one, maybe I’ll get lucky and this one will be delicious. Still sour! Ok, I’ll run back into the tall corn with the other kids who are screaming and running around while my mom and the other grownups use their magical grownup powers to find the allusive red strawberries that will not reveal themselves to me no matter how hard I look.
There was a little circle of trees standing in the middle of the fields and there was a rumor that passed among the kids that a very long time ago there used to be a well there and a girl fell in it and drowned and they couldn’t get her out so they filled the hole with dirt and she’s buried down there. It was so spooky and I felt so bad for her and her family. But her ghost probably liked those trees, they were really nice. Like protectors of her grave that kept her company so she wouldn’t be all alone out in this big field.
One day, while our parents worked in the fields, I was playing with a bunch of kids making forts in the tall grass. We were having so much fun. Suddenly there is total pandemonium as a helicopter swoops in right over us. It is so loud and scary. The loudest thing I’ve ever heard. We are all freaking out. I don’t know what is happening, it is absolutely terrifying, I panic. Oh god, where is my mother!!!? Why the hell, oh WHY did I ever let her get this far away from me!? I can’t reach her – what should I do? Should I hide in the grass or run into the field to find my mom!? Is this terrible sky monster going to kill us!? Hide in the grass or run to my mom!? Hide in the grass or run to my mom!? What should I do, what should I do!? Choose! Choose! Grass or mom? Grass or mom? Oh God! I froze in pure fear torn between hiding or running. Then dove into the grass. There was no time for running. It passed over and when it was gone I bolted into the field to find my mom. Why did I ever let her out of my sight!? Phew, my mom and the other grownups are still alive. Thank god we all survived that unbelievable, brutal attack from that heinous supernatural confounded flying beast which must have escaped from the depths of some inconceivable hell.

one time I ate turkey

Kid Herd at KissingTree pic-Rachel Ka

Not my house but a pic just like this could be taken at any of the dozens of households.
Kid Herd at Kissing Tree. Pic- Rachel Ka

For a little while a girl my age and her dad lived at Dogwood Blossom. She didn’t have a mom kind of like I didn’t have a dad and we liked to play together. Her dad was really, really tall and nice. He would play with the kids and lift the brave, bigger kids into the rafters of the house which only he could do because he was so tall. But it wasn’t like the man who would put me on the roof. This was fun and the kids were laughing.

The girl had a grandma that lived really close by, right near the commune. I had never spent the night anywhere away from my mom and brother before but this girl and I were such good friends that they took me to spend the night one night at her grandma’s. This was one of the only times I’d ever been “off the farm” and although it wasn’t far at all, it was still another world. There was a swing set which was so amazingly fabulous. I’d never played on a nice, real swing set before and we got to play on it as much as we wanted, just the two of us, without sharing with dozens of other kids. It was an afternoon in heaven.

Then we went inside and they fed me turkey. Oh, it’s like tofu except I get to have a huge, honkin’ thick piece instead of a thin little slice of barely anything. And there’s so much of it. And they’re telling me I can have more and letting me eat as much as I want! Having so much food for only a few people was the exact opposite of our house! At our house anything yummy was carefully rationed out in tiny amounts among dozens and dozens of hungry people. The only thing we got large amounts of was disgusting stuff like oatmeal. This is marvelous.

Out on the porch, near the door that we used to run in and out of to the swing set, is a refrigerator and next to it is a enormous turkey bigger than me! It is so big it won’t go in the refrigerator – it is half the size of the refrigerator. I’m amazed at how big this stuff we’re eating is, that they tell me is called turkey. It is a big, smooth, weird thing. They also have two smaller ones. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this food, turkey! What an amazing discovery.

After we eat, my friends dad gets us ready for bed in another room and puts on our diapers. I had never had a man put on my diaper before. Laying there in this strange room with no pants on and a big man towering over me being the one to put on my diaper was like a dark cloud of doom had just rolled in and was putting a shadow of horror over everything making me utterly repulsed and sick to my stomach, in complete despair for my nice, pretty mom. This fun heaven was now a scary nightmare. I didn’t want him to put on my diaper. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I wanted home. Right now. As he put my diaper on I burst into a desperate fit of crying my brains out like I had never done before. My friend was surprised and concerned at my hysteria looking like she wished she could help me feel better. But there was nothing she could do for me. I couldn’t say anything to her because all I could do was cry in a dire need to be home so badly. I had never felt this horrible before. They tried to console me but I just kept crying for home. I wanted to explain but I couldn’t talk, I could only cry.

I cannot remember if I slept there or if they took me home.

Farm bus 78 pic-jimmy BryanBus dwelling on the Farm 1978 pic by Jimmy Bryan

Maybe this was the time or maybe it was another time around that age (these early memory flashes are hard to precisely timeline) when my mom carried me from our bus over to another bus in the neighborhood because I was so sick. Normally, as I wasn’t a baby anymore, she would not carry me that far but I was so sick I couldn’t walk and was all floppy and was just crying and crying. She plucked me out of my bed in our bus where I was laying sick and kind of scurried over there. I cried the whole way. I had never felt this weird. Everything looked weird. She carried me into one of the buses in a small conglomeration of buses along the road where a clinic kind of medical lady lived.

Her and my mom were super worried and frantic to take my temperature. I was ill on a phenomenal level of illness. I couldn’t stop crying long enough for them to put the thermometer in my mouth. They decided to do it in my butt. The lady had a son about my age who was standing there watching the whole thing with wide eyes. How embarrassing! I wanted to say no, please do not take the temperature in my butt in front of him! But I couldn’t talk, I could only scream, my whole body was taken over by some kind of madness and they quickly flipped me over and took my temperature in my butt. It was wretched. I didn’t think I could scream any harder…until they stuck my butthole with that cold little glass stick. Right in front of that boy.

I guess I told my mom about the turkey discovery…because I remember she wasn’t happy about it, she was very mad for a long time that they fed me turkey. Apparently, I had never eaten something called meat before and it had made me sick. I didn’t know what that was but I knew I had had a crazy, fantastical adventure that I’d never forget -with turkey- to tell the other kids about, a wild tale from the other side.

I took bucket baths

Across the street the street from us on 1st Road was a house called Strawberry Patch and along the road in front of the house there was an embankment of dirt where some boys would play cars. I wanted to play with their little cars so bad. I walked by them, slowly, eyeing their cars, pretending I had reasons to linger, wishing I could play with them. But they probably didn’t want to play with a girl. When they weren’t occupying the awesome dirt embankment of little car roads and caves they made, I investigated. The little holes in the side of the dirt were so extremely cool. I played there, making little holes for the cars. If only I had some toy cars to drive along the dirt into the holes! I wanted to play with little cars so, so bad.

I soon discovered I hated getting babysat at that house. Because we didn’t go play cars in the dirt. They would always make us play Ring Around the Rosie. The grownups would act like I was bad if I wouldn’t play. But I hated it because it was so scary because these particular kids at this house seemed crazy. Like they wanted to have the most violent outcome they could at the end of the song when everyone going in a circle suddenly lets go of each others hands and “we all fall down”. Since I was smaller I would go flying backwards every time with no control of what was going to happen to me. It was way too scary. I despised it. I just didn’t feel like getting hurt. Why did I have to play this stupid, scary game that hurts me? Why couldn’t I do something else? What was wrong with these people?

I was glad that at least my little brother didn’t have to play because he was a baby and couldn’t walk yet. He would just sit on the floor in his diaper. At least he was spared from this wretched activity.

I heard talk about pre-school. I think pre-school was at the Sunhouse. It sounded so formal and official like I would be disconnected from my mom too much. I didn’t think I wanted to go. But I did go play at the Sunhouse in the grass with a bunch of other little kids. Was this preschool? Naw, it couldn’t be, this wasn’t so bad. We just played and played.

I knew I was going to have to go to Kindergarten up near the soy dairy someday which, I thought was called Kindergarden, of course. And I was really excited to grow big enough to go to Kindergarden but relieved I wasn’t big enough yet. I adored my mom more than anything and didn’t think we should be apart very much.

My mom liked to wash me and my brother. She liked our faces clean. If we weren’t near water, she’d lick her thumb or make me lick her thumb and she’d clean my face. She grumbled about other parents who let their kids be dirty and she would wash their faces sometimes when they’d walk by our bus. We carried clean water from a water pump to our bus in buckets. I would take bucket baths. I would go in butt first so my feet and head were sticking out and there’d I’d sit happily splashing in my bucket right outside our bus.

I loved going down the steep hill past the other houses to the creek. We’d go down in big groups to where two creeks met which made it look like 3 creeks and all us kids, big and little, would play and swim in the creek. There was a little pool, a circular indentation in the creek bed that seemed pretty deep, it was scary and fun for us little kids. There was a strong tree with lots of roots where older kids had carved letters. I liked to come up out of the creek to visit my mom sitting under the tree and tell her when a bug bit me. For some reason I got bit more than the other kids. The mosquito’s bit me all over, I had red dots everywhere. My mom would hold up my arm, turning me around, looking at them wondering why I got bit more than the other kids. Then she would tell me it was because I was so sweet. Then I would decide I didn’t care anymore because I needed to rejoin the other kids around my age in the creek to lift up rocks and find crawdaddies.


The outside world was a fairy tale dream

I heard about cities. But it was like hearing about castles and unicorns in a fairy tale. I wasn’t completely sure if they really existed.

Visitors were clues to this other world called “Off The Farm”. They could be easily spotted with their alien, shiny watches and nice hair and fancy clothes and cameras and special gadgets and things that normal people like us didn’t possess. They also talked differently, treated me differently.

My grandparents came to visit and were so neato with pristine clothes and magical devices like a camera. And a car! Wow, they were like royalty from fairy tale land! I was so excited to show them our bus. I ran to it and showed it to them. They took my picture.

me in front of our bus

They smelled funny. I liked it. Hmm, I wanted to show them everything, what else could I show them? I ran to a log I liked to sit on to show them our log. Look, we have a log! Maybe they’ll like our moss? Yes, our moss is very green and soft and beautiful, maybe they’ll like our moss! Look at our moss!

They were so special like Gods from another dimension. I ran around wanting to show them anything they might like. But how could I impress remarkable, worldly people who smelled amazing and owned magical devices? I couldn’t believe we were related to them!

Grandparents visit – Grandma holding my brother Sky, my mother, sister and me

There was pictures of me outside playing when I was a baby. On a lawn. Wow, I had got to be on a pretty green lawn once? We didn’t have plush, manicured things like lawns. We had houses in the woods with dirt, rocks and sticks. In one photo I was looking into a cup and I remembered. I had peed into that cup and was looking at my pee! Yep, I just knew it, when looking at that picture, I remembered, that day I thought it would be incredible to pee in that cup. And I did it!

This is one of the pictures from the day I peed in a cup

Deborah would tell me about my dad and about New York where I was born. I had a memory of being in our house and skribbling with crayons.

I couldn’t believe I had a dad who lived out in the world. Most kids dads lived in our world but not mine! I loved a picture of him way up on a bluff above Lake Ontario. I was so proud of how brave he was to be up there but also afraid he might fall! It was exciting and exhilarating and scary to look at. That was my dad. Out in the big crazy world. Wow.

This picture, for me, was “my dad”.

My mom told me how Lake Ontario had lots of pebbles and when we were there when I was a baby and she would yawn, I would drop a pebble in her mouth. She said I thought it was really funny. She said she gave birth to both my sister and me in a place called a hospital where they were really mean to her! She said when she had my sister, they thought she was crazy because she wanted to sing so they knocked her out and strapped her down! Oh these bad, bad things called hospitals and doctors! How could they do that to my dear mom!? Grrr! That’s why she came to The Farm – to have my little brother with nice midwifes who wouldn’t hurt her. Ahh, we were safe here from those bad people. She said she tried to have me at our house in NY but my dad was mean to her and I wouldn’t come out and I was really big so she had to go to a hospital and she said I didn’t have a soft spot because she ate so much sea weed so I ripped her to her butthole when I came out. She had a big scar coming up from her pubic area that went to her belly button. I was confused thinking I had ripped her to her belly button. I was so glad she had come here where she could have a baby safely with nice midwifes where bad things like that wouldn’t happen.

I had memories of the outside world when Sky was a little baby and we took a trip to Florida to visit our Grandparents and my moms friends she always talked about. She was fond of some guy named Captain Rainbow that she told stories about. Like how he had caught her jumping out of a tree when she thought she could fly one time because she tried something called cocaine.

This whole trip was like a dream. My older sister came and she held my hand a lot while my mom took care of Sky. He was so little, he didn’t do anything at all except get wrapped in blankets! We went on a train. I don’t remember how we even got to the train but I remember the train. My baby brother was wrapped up and my sister and I walked away from our mom and brother. She took me from one train car to another. It was loud and scary between cars and then shocking and amazing when the door to the next car opened revealing a steamy kitchen packed full of cooks bustling around in funny white hats.

We got to Florida. I don’t even remember visiting Grandparents which of course, we did. What stuck with me was visiting a friend of our mom’s. He had snakes. His humming house was so bright, filled with terrariums. And snakes! We looked at his snakes then picked oranges in the yard then got into a van. This shit was crazy. I wasn’t used to regular electricity much less florescent snake lights! It was completely surreal. And now we were going to ride in a strange van. I’m not so sure about all this but okay. They put me in this funny seat. It was too weird, I didn’t like it. I wanted out. But they wanted to trap me there! Oh god, what is happening, please don’t trap me in this seat! Why would they do this to me!? I tried to fight and scream but they strapped me in all over my body! I hysterically screamed and kicked and flailed struggling to escape with all my might – but I couldn’t! I was trapped! What kind of sick, cruel treatment was this!?

We drove down the road as it was getting dark. The lights and the reflections in the window hypnotized me. There was so many cars! Wow! Then we drove up to this giant pit in the road! Oh no! All the cars were just driving and falling right into the pit falling down, down, down. None of the cars stopped! Why were they so stupid? Why were they just driving in!? From both sides of the giant pit that went all the way across the road, the cars just drove in falling to their doom. We were the only car that stopped and didn’t drive in and turned around. As we turned around, I looked out into the darkness and saw all the cars falling in the pit and was so relieved we had stopped in time and were turning around, nice and safe.

I felt sorry for those cars and didn’t realize that was a dream for a very long time. I thought that had really happened out in crazy fairy tale land of lights and cars. It was no more bewildering than bright as hell snake lights and fighting for my life while getting strapped and trapped into some blasted evil contraption called a car seat.

This is me probably on that trip to Florida visiting my fathers parents. My Grandma gave me this picture. I don’t remember it – she said they were trying to get me to get off that chair to come take a picture but I wouldn’t because I was guarding my candy that I was so afraid someone was going to take from me. We did not get candy on the commune! She said I kept saying “Someone gonna get my lolly? Someone gonna get my lolly?”

Meditating on Sundays

On Sundays we had to get up early and be quiet. We would walk on paths through the woods on the way to the meditation meadow or sometimes take the longer way on the rocky road when our mom didn’t feeling like trekking the steep trails through the valley with two little kids.


Sunday meditators

Techy guys recording Sunday Services

If we made any noise we were told “sshhh”. The meadow would already be full of people who got there for sunrise and a flow of people like us silently and respectfully joining them. Most of them sitting on little pillows they had carried there tucked under their arms. And there they’d sit, hundreds of them with their backs straight and their legs folded for what seemed like forever. I would look at my mom and wonder how she could keep her eyes closed for so long. Fidgeting, but not making noise, I’d watch all these people, some I knew, some I didn’t, waiting for them to start the OMing.

The Meditation Meadow was on a hill partially covered in trees. It wasn’t as big and lush as the meadow with the stage where we had big parties. This was a sacred meadow where people went to services every Sunday and where people got married by the tall, thin man named Steven. For some reason he was real special. Everyone really liked him and wanted to do what he said. Often people would say to other people “Steven said this” or “Steven said that”. When there was a conflict, it was Steven that was consulted to judge the situation and make a decision. Everyone really liked him. Well maybe not everyone exactly liked him but they had to respect him. It was kinda like he was everyone’s dad or something. He lived far away on the other side of the Farm so I barely ever saw him but I knew who he was, of course. After they OM he will talk and talk and talk on a microphone while lots of “doobies” are passed around among the grownups. With the hundreds of people sitting there it has been utterly quiet besides the occasional cough or throat clearing for what seems like an eternity. I can barely wait for the OMing to begin. Then, finally, it starts. At first just a few people but within seconds the entire meadow is vibrating with a harmonic melody. It is awesome. I love hearing the hum of everyone’s voice intertwining and merging into one beautiful sound with countless tones.

Steven “rapping” at Sunday Services