I recently discovered what it meant to be a survivor of the ’60s. You do realize that those of us once called Hippies have broken the 60 year mark. We said never trust anyone over 30, but now we are drawing Social Security–some of us. The rest are dead. “Another one bites the dust” is more true for our generation than that of my boyfriend, who is 16 years older than I am.
Many of us who peripherally knew one another in a splendid Northern Michigan college town during that era now are friends on Facebook. Some have moved on, had careers, retired. Others are still there, living what to them is life but to us is memory. The difference is to us, things have not changed, and should not change. Everything should be as we remember it. To them, however, the everyday changes are not noticeable yet the town has known generation after generation.
Some of these Facebook friends have up and died since our correspondence has been in progress. People still talk to them on their pages, especially on their birthdays.
Anyway, last Friday I traveled to Ann Arbor because my schedule was free and one of these friends who had played in a band back in the ’60s-’70s was playing with his current band. Like me, he is a retired professor. [Whereas I finished the degree, he can claim a “real college” as his employer–inside joke.]
It was a scuzzy little bar, of the type I would have loved if I had been who I used to be. There were many old Hippies there and some of them, it appeared, were who they used to be, looking a little shop worn, worse for the wear. I went with my friend, who had probably never been in a scuzzy dive in his life, as he was not sure how to pay the waitress for the water.
After the last set, which unfortunately was all we arrived in time for, since it was about 100 miles and we had some weather to contend with, I went up to talk to Randy.
“You made it,” he said. “Who are you, anyway. You look familiar (besides FB). Did I know you–back then?”
I explained that I was Big Al’s ex-wife, from an era when words like wife and husband were taken rather loosely–although we made it longer than any of our other friends married that summer (1972). Was it a bad omen that we were married on the day of the Watergate break in?
Randy’s face lights up in recognition (for good reasons I hope). Then he says seriously: “Is he still alive?”
And that is it. This is the difference between us and them. We are the only generation where there seems to be an expectation of early mortality, where 62 is not just social security but a victory of the highest order. Personally, I felt that 30 was a greater victory, and when I made it to 40.
Well, as unlikely as it seems, Big Al is alive, a little more battle scarred but still kicking. He has a wonderful wife and she is also by the Grace of God alive.
So, welcome to my little blog, where I will write about my friends, post the poetry and the pictures, and put it all in perspective.