April 1970 (rewritten at some point later)
We don’t have the money to have the van painted right. So we buy a couple of cases of spray paint and decide to do it ourselves – pissing off our land lady at the McCadden Apartment, who eyes us from between the slats of her downstairs blinds to make sure we don’t leave any marks on her driveway.
What she makes of the red, white and blue motif we can’t tell.
She certainly hasn’t seen the movie “Easy Rider.”
Even more confusing are the sayings we pasted onto the sides in stick on black on gold letters” “Battlewagon for peace” and “multi-colored rainbow roach.
I know for a fact that the hammering we did over the last few days annoyed her as Dan and I hauled in lumber to construct a bed in the back.
Dan has serious concerns about all the weight we are adding to the van.
No ten year old 1959 VW van can handle all the stuff Louise intends to bring along on the trip.
We are bogged down with recently acquired possessions and pets, and she can’t bear to leave any of them behind. Se we stuff the van, building cubbyholes where we and put as much as we can and crying over what we can’t.
I can only image the face of the landlady when she discovered all we left in the apartment after we are gone.
Lumber, pegboard and other stuff will kill us when we try to climb the mountains, Dan tells me – too shy to tell Louise for fear she might burst into tears again.
Louise is caught between the life of her parents and the life hippies are supposed to lead.
While her parents always traveled a lot, collecting things they found every place they want, they always had a home to bring the stuff back to and didn’t have to carry it on their backs like a turtle, the way we intend to do.
But hippies aren’t supposed to let possessions tie them down.
I know we can’t have it both ways, but I’m scared to tell Louise, too.
So Dan and I grit our tech and pack the van, each of us picturing the moment in our minds when the van breaks down on the road.
But Dan’s more of an optimist than I am and eventually shrugs off his doubts, standing back from the art work we have created with our spray cans. He grins, then climbs back up the stairs to our apartment, pausing on the landing near the front door so he can get a bird’s eye view of our master piece. He twists the end of his handle bar moustache, leaving a speck of blue paint on the brown hair.
I stand alone when he is gone, staring at our future mode of transport, convinced only doom will result from this rushed flight. I hear Louise upstairs humming Judy Collins, then Joanie Mitchell, and other songs she learned in the mountains of
and knows she is thinking she is going home again.