Well here it is again for the 74th time. The kids who can make it will be coming down with their wives, a couple of friends from town are also coming, and the only neighbors we have may stop in later for a drink. All in all it will be fairly quiet and traditional. I know my pit bull will hate it because she will have to be caged up all day and I, being the loner, will endure and enjoy this holiday all at the same time.
Fact is, though I am totally content with my present life, things are not the same for me as they used to be back in the day when we were tip toeing through the tulips dreaming about making the world a better place. Back when the music never stopped, till the day it died . . . Bye, bye, Miss American Pie . . .
This morning I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and the best one I ever experienced, when it was and who I was with . . . that sort of thing. Following is the true story of the best Thanksgiving I ever had.
It was about 1969. I was living in a walk up crash pad in Portland, Oregon, just one more run away hippie looking for a spark of reality, and thinking I could find it by denouncing all that my parents generation stood for. I had just left the military and the following short but bad marriage, and was hiding out from all the heavy emotion that went with them. Of course I was kidding myself as to the fact that I could actually do it.
It was Thanksgiving morning, and in my mind, I didn’t have anything to be thankful about. I was alone and depressed. As I walked through the old neighborhood I was more alone still as the usual hustle was not there. Even the drug dealers seemed to have taken the day off. I was walking, but going nowhere. . . . just walking.
There was a music store a few blocks down Burnside and I was heading in that direction, probably to stare into the window at the old Martin I would have given my last dollar for, had I actually had one.
As I walked along the empty street a Volkswagen van passed me by. It was full of freaks just like me. (in those days being a freak was cool) They pulled up in front of the music store and the guy behind the wheel who must have been the owner, unlocked the door, went in and came right back out again. He jumped in the van, turned around and came back in my direction.
The van stopped in front of me and a girl on the passenger side rolled down her window, smiled and asked, “Hey man where you going?”
“Wanna come to a party?”
“Sure” I said perking up a bit.
The van door slid open, “Hop in!” she said. I hopped in and away we went. Everybody in the van was in a very upbeat mood. “We’re having a far out dinner party for a bunch of people and you’re invited!” she said as she turned in her seat and faced me.
“Wow man, yeah man, thanks for stopping, that would be so cool.” I answered. The day that began as a huge bummer had suddenly become a life giving adventure because that little lady thought it would be cool to pick me up and take me to her party.
A couple minutes later we pulled up to one of the old Victorian homes that dotted the SW Portland neighborhoods at the time and parked. The van unloaded. We all walked up the concrete steps and entered the magical atmosphere of a house turned hippie haven.
There were couches, stuffed chairs, funky second hand furnishings, door beads, and brightly dressed people everywhere. Music played. People, laid back and relaxed, laughed effortlessly. ‘no canned laughter here’ What a lovely place to be. There were no introductions, no embarrassing ‘trying to say the right things,’ I merely walked into the large living room, found an empty place on the couch and sat down. The guy who was already sitting there said to me, “ Hey brother, how you doing?”
“Great man, just great.”
Using half sentences, chopped up wording and a lingo from Mars, off we went on a discussion encompassing so many variables that I can’t describe . . . ‘the kind of stuff people say when they are flaunting the norm and trying to be real I suppose.’
Anyways, we were talking away when a girl entered the living room from another room. She stopped close to us, pulled her long blond hair across her face and began to comb it. As I glanced up, all I could see was one gorgeous blue eye staring back at me. I was instantly attracted to her.
She must have just arrived because she was still wrapped in an old 30’s style fur coat that reached almost to the floor. She took the coat off, dropped it on the back of the couch and sat down beside me to complete the job of combing her hair.
Once finished, her face turned my way. “Hi,” she said. I don’t know what I said . . . the power in those bright blue eyes had tied up my tongue and caused my heart to bleed.
I quickly regained my composure and we talked. We laughed. We smoked a joint together. We shared our intimate details . . . all before dinner.
The girls soon called from the dining room and we all (about 25 of us) went in and sat around a huge rigged up concoction of tables and benches all loaded with food and closely spaced bottles of wine.
Nobody prayed or did any of the traditional stuff. Someone said something nice and we dug in. For a brief moment in time we became the kings and queens of the world enjoying the greatest feast many of us would ever remember having.
After we ate and were all stuffed and laying around like a pack of wolves who had just devoured a moose, the joints came out and passed around one more time. Many of us just passed out.
The blond ended up alongside me on a couch. We kissed and snuggled and fell asleep in each others arms. I don’t remember how or when I got back to my pad, but I do remember the blue eyed blond and the two month love fest we had following Thanksgiving Day.
But like all things in those days, our love was fast, furious, and burned out just as fast as it had started when she went to Hawaii and disappeared from my life forever. She was my angel and I loved her dearly and I will never forget . . . whats-her-name.