It was the summer of 1989, and while most kids were preparing for college in the fall, my friends and I were preparing for our cross-country adventure immediately following graduation. This involved camping, Rainbow Gatherings, and following the Grateful Dead. Wait; did you get the date wrong? Did I say 1969? No, you heard me right, it was 1989, there was a serious hippie revival going on and we embedded ourselves at its epicenter.
Due to the wonderful financial opportunities that selling large quantities of weed afforded me, I moved into my own apartment the beginning of my senior year of high school. My Father was in the refrigerated truck business, and had a lot of clients who were beer distributors. He could get the beer for about $6 a case, so he suggested that I sell some to further increase my entrepreneurship. Brilliant, never mind that I was only 17, there was money to be made here, and I for one had no interest in any of the jobs I was qualified for, most likely involving a name tag and hair net.
I have a photo somewhere of me sitting Indian style atop a pyramid of cases of beer in my apartment, but just like huge chunks of my memory, it is lost. I started off with about 50 cases, hauled them up the stairs to my apartment, and threw a lot of parties in order to sell them. Considering I was the only one in high school who had their own apartment, there was a constant flux of people. I sold the beer for $16 a case and made about $500. This was a lucrative enhancement to the money I was making selling weed. I did not like beer, so this helped keep my profit margin up, unlike the marijuana, which I smoked like it was my job.
I eventually accumulated enough money to buy a few pounds, yes pounds. What a good high school girl! I would spend my evenings cutting it all up into 1/8ths, ¼’s and ½’s, ration it out into Ziploc baggies, and load it up into my backpack for school. I really put my education to work. I always managed to get good grades, but could not ever seem to understand, or pass, math. Ironic, because I’m quite sure the math I used to run a business out of my backpack made me more money than my math teacher on most days.
I was the girl who wore a tie-dyed dress, braided hair and bare feet to her prom, reeking of patchouli and high on mushrooms. But I really was a good person, I did not lie to people or cheat them, I just sold them weed. I went to classes, I had friends, and I would occasionally have to leave after second period because the acid I had dropped with friends in the parking lot was kicking in way to intense. I couldn’t possibly have been expected to stay in school under such circumstances.
Not surprisingly, I drove a VW bus. It was like a pot den sitting right there in the middle of the school parking lot, with curtains on the windows and everything. We would all pile in there at lunch time, listen to music and pull bong hits for an hour, then giggle ourselves back inside for classes. Those were good times.
A few weeks before graduation, my mom took me shopping for the essentials necessary for the trip. We had made a list of camping essentials we would each need; a warm, lightweight sleeping bag, hard frame backpack, canteen, first aid kit, fire starting kit, snake bite kit, tent, new Birkenstocks…that sort of stuff. She paid for it all as a graduation present, with a mixed expression of pride and envy.
My long divorced parents seemed to understand my desire to spend a year traveling, accumulating valuable life lessons, before I thought about college. They were just happy I actually graduated and wanted to go to college. They wished themselves that they had taken the time to see more of the world and what it had to offer before going to college, marriage, kids…divorce.
The night of my graduation we were all at my best friend Britta’s house getting ready, and by getting ready I mean drinking Peach Riunite wine and trying very hard to stay only mildly stoned in order to actually make it across the stage without falling. From what I remember, I did make it across the stage, and was greeted outside by my entire family. My Grandfather was really excited about my adventure; he made me swear to write in a journal and take photos, and shoved 3 crisp 100-dollar bills into my hand. Britta, Katie and I were leaving the next morning.
We could hardly sleep that night, we had packed the bus, checked and rechecked our lists, had our routes mapped out, had plenty of music and plenty of weed. I had my camera, dozens of rolls of film, and a journal as I had promised Gramps. At 6am, the 3 of us piled in and hit the road.
We were so young, the world was new and full of possibility, and we were free! We had pulled all of our money together, which we kept in a zippered bag. We had cut a hole in the lining of the vinyl backing of the driver’s seat and wedged the money in there for safekeeping.
Tunes were blaring as the wind blew in our hair. We sang and laughed, high as kites rolling down highway 80 West. It is one of the best feelings in my memory bank to this day. It was the first taste of real freedom, and it was delicious.
Categories: Adventures & Travels