It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it was something that had to be done. Christine made that short journey back outside. Jennifer was over by the flower garden with Tessa. Gilda was sitting next to Trudy at the picnic table. A hush swarmed over them the moment of her presence. “Where’s Sally?” She asked, at no one in particular.
“She ran to the pond.” Trudy replied. Christine lowered her head while passing them by to go meet up with her. She got as far as the barn before Wesley came out to greet her with his arms opened wide. “Dolly, you’re back.” She went to him instantly, like a magnet to steel. She was glad to see him again. “Wesley.”
“Why you back so soon? I thought you were going to be gone for a few more weeks?”
“I know. Change of plans.”
“So, what was all the ruckus about in the house?” He diverted to, which also served as a notice that the argument was overheard. They slowly began to make their way towards the pond. How was she going to explain it? She always took more careful steps in talking with him than she did with her mother; then again, that’s how it goes when deep down you tend to favor one more over the other. They slipped their arms around each others waist when she calmly attempted to get to the bottom of it all. “What’s this I hear about going to California?”
“It doesn’t sound too appealing at first does it?” He also treaded carefully. They stopped next to the vegetable garden, just shy of the path that led into the woods, and the swimming spot.
“It doesn’t sound very appealing at all, period.” She wavered. “Don’t tell me that you’re all for this?”
“Why not?” He smiled, withdrawing his arms and raising them up to display his following statement. “Look around you honey, it’s life. There’s only one way to approach it, and that’s to live it.” He placed his hands on both sides of her arms. “This is going to be the last ride. We didn’t know it back then, but we know it now. It’s our last chance to recapture something that we can no longer claim.”
“And what would that be?” She asked him, with a slight chuckle. He gazed into her eyes like he was trying to send out a message. “Our youth.” He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek before turning around and heading back to the barn. He certainly had a way of putting things into perspective. He also had a way of making her think. The effect he had on her was confounded. He was never the one who made her eat that cauliflower and tofu when she was a child. He never bored her to tears with stories of the good ole days. He never did any of that. He never forced anything on her. He only told her things that he knew about first hand, and things she was curious of; that’s all. And as she resumed her walk to catch up with her daughter, she began to realize that he was never the one she spent so much time with in the flower garden, or the vegetable garden. He wasn’t the one she spent countless hours making flower wreaths and many other simple things.
But sometimes, things can get too simple for an un-simple world. She grew up, and simple became a banished word from her vocabulary. She wanted more than simple, she wanted luxuries. She wanted to belong, and to fit in with the rest of the evolving society. She wanted to be somebody. Somebody more than what she thought her mother was, and her mother was just too simple for her. So was her father, but he was a guy, her mother was just like her, a girl. She couldn’t relate to males and how they see things, she could only relate to being a female. Too often she had looked at her mother and saw Betty Crocker. Another Joan Cleaver, if you will. Just a woman in an apron doing all the things that women were expected to do in those days. Why didn’t she want that? Why did it scare her so much? And why couldn’t she tell her the truth? But more importantly, and this is the most baffling part of all, why is Sally sobbing as she stands leaning against that tree?
“Would it matter much if I said that I didn’t want to go back home yet?” She whimpered, feeling her mothers’ arrival without even looking behind her.
“I wasn’t planning on going back to New York. I thought you might like to spend some time in Hilton Head. That’s your favorite place.” But as she looked all around her, and at her daughters’ behavior, she dared to stand corrected. “Or at least I think it still is.”
“Been there, done that.” Sally summed up.
Christine walked in front of her to look face to face. “What has happened since you been here?”
“Everything.” She stated, pushing off from the tree and walking closer to the edge of the water.
“There’s something different about you.” Christine noticed, taking a place by her side.
“What?” Sally murmured. Christine shook her head. “I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something definitely different.”
“You can go on to Hilton Head if you want.” Sally told her. “I’m going to stay here.”
“I’m not going to go by myself.” Christine implied. Sally stood strong. “Then take someone else with you because I’m not going.”
“I don’t want you riding in that bus. And I don’t want Ian to be driving you in it at that.”
“They’re fixing the bus.” Sally stressed adamantly. “And Ian isn’t so bad; he’s just different, unique.”
“Unique being the word, but still.”
Sally turned to her mother and asked her. “What’s wrong? Don’t you trust Wesley?”
“Of course I trust Wesley, don’t be silly.”
“If you trust him and he thinks it’ll be safe to ride and he doesn’t have a problem with Ian, then what are you so worried about?”
“I’m worried because you’re my only daughter, and I don’t want to lose you.”
“The same way Jenny didn’t want to lose you?” She abruptly countered. Christine stepped back a couple of feet in retaliation. Her heart stopped. She was over-taken with a sense of reproach. She wanted to respond to that, but she didn’t have a response to offer. She just stood there watching as Sally turned and walked away.
She wanted to follow her, catch up to her and talk with her some more, but she couldn’t even move her feet. Instead, she just turned towards the pond and gazed out at the scenic view. “My God, what did they do to my little girl?”
The afternoon was creeping up, and as everyone started to gather around the picnic table, Jennifer noticed someone was missing. “Where’s Chrissy?”
“I think she’s still at the pond.” Sally answered, sitting down, still bothered with the fact that this would be her final lunch at this table. Wesley moved to volunteer his services. “I’ll go fetch her.” He said. He got to his feet, but was quickly halted by Jennifer, who had already begun the walk. “I’ll handle this.”
Christine had still yet to find the strength to move. She sat on a fallen log that over looked the pond. She was caught up with the pristine sparkle of light reflecting from the sun as it mirrored like a prism, bouncing off of the water. She stared into that rainbow endlessly like in some kind of hypnotic state. Jennifer came up from behind. “Lunch is ready if you’re hungry.”
“I guess I am.” She said with a smile while looking up at her. She looked back out at the still waters.
“You’ve been sitting here all morning, just staring out at the pond?”
“Pretty much, but mostly, I’ve just been sitting here thinking.” She added.
Jennifer took a seat next to her. “Should I ask what you’ve been thinking about or am I better off not knowing?”
“It’s nothing that sadistic.” Christine half chuckled, taking her mother by the hand and laying her head on her shoulder and rambling on. “Do you remember, it was the sixth grade bake sale and everybody had to make something to bring in?”
“The sixth grade bake sale? Oh yes, I do. I remember we argued over what we were going to bake.” Jennifer recalled.
Christine never relinquished her position. “I wanted to bake something like brownies or chocolate chip cookies. Instead, we ended up making those rice patties with wheat germ or something to that effect.”
“That’s right.” Jennifer confirmed. “I thought you would never stop crying.”
“That’s because I knew I was going to be the butt of every joke ever made for the rest of the year, and beyond. And I was.”
“But they are so healthy. Better than all of that sugared crap, I’ll tell you.” Jennifer was still proud to say. Christine shared the rest of her story. “Man, I really hated you for that. I thought I would never recover.”
“Yes, I remember you saying something in those respects. But you got over it and life moved on.”
Christine lifted her head. Her eyes swelled with tears. “That’s the whole point Jenny. I never did get over it.”
Jennifer turned to look at her. She felt a pit form in the center of her stomach. Was this her way of communicating what has been troubling her for all of these years? Is this that breakthrough she was hoping for? Is this why she ran away? These thoughts and more were racing through her mind when Christine leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek. She separated slightly before running her hand through her mothers gray hair, caressing it gently as she softly whispered. “I understand now your intentions behind it.”
Suddenly, even the quiet got quieter. Christine ceased and returned to looking back out at the pond. Jennifer had a knot in her throat, but was thankful for the small dose of saliva she managed to produce to wash it away with. “I had no idea.” She trembled. They sat there quietly for a while. Then taking what she considered a big risk, she humbly asked her. “Is it possible to be forgiven?”
“If there was ever anything to forgive in the first place, yes.”
That came as a relief, but still; she couldn’t believe that the smallest of things could be so powerful. “Being teased is a tough thing for a child to go through. I guess I never looked at it from that perspective before. I’m really sorry Chrissy.”
“I know you always preached that it didn’t matter what anybody else thought of you, but you can’t tell that to a sixth grader when their whole world revolves around what other people think of them.”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right. Kids can be ignorantly cruel.”
“But you’re right too.” Christine fathomed. “I mean, it was a long time ago and I should have just forgotten about it. I should have just moved on.”
“Deep wounds bleed for a long time.” Jennifer philosophized. Christine put it to bed with one last tuck. “Maybe now it’s time for me to try and stop the bleeding.”
Jennifer touched her face with a glowing attribute of love. There was an unspoken word of honor that was visible between them and though all healing takes time, now was a good time for the healing to begin. Christine reached for that hand that was on her face and kissed it softly as she got to her feet. “Come on, I’m hungry.” As she still couldn’t tell her the complete truth.
“Now you’re talking.” Jennifer proclaimed. Christine helped her up while reminding her teasingly. “No one ever did buy any of those patties, you do know that don’t you?”
“They didn’t know what they were missing.”
“Actually,” Christine took a guess, “I think they did.”
They slowly began to make their way back when Jennifer thought to tell her. “You know, we should do this more often.”
“Talk. It’s really not that bad of a concept when you think about it.”
“Sounds good to me.” Christine supported before asking a small, but very important favor. “Promise me that you’ll look into anger management classes when we get back, okay?”
Jennifer laughed for a moment. I mean, who would even suggest that after all of these years of life you finally throw one slap and … wait a tick. “Get back?”
“Oh no, don’t tell me that you’ve changed your mind already about going to California?”
“Sally is going to be so happy to hear.” Jennifer giggled. Christine brought the ordeal full circle. “You don’t mention a thing. I had to be the one to break her heart so I’ll be the one to mend it. I’ll tell her after lunch.”
Sally didn’t pay much attention to it, but the rest of them figured that something was up when the two ladies returned with a little bounce in their steps. And despite this silent observation, it remained an awkward moment to say the least. Sally didn’t eat too much. The mere sight of her mother was making her emotionally nauseous. She suddenly excused herself and went back into the house. Christine and Jennifer exchanged a private glance when she did, but remained quiet. Polite inquiries were made in regards to Christine’s life in New York, but no one dared to extend the conversation beyond that. Even they were still feeling a bit uneasy. Wesley tried to keep things light by asking her about France, even that didn’t do much to ease the mood as without the official word on the matter, there were still remnants of tension left over from the morning may-lay that lingered on throughout the dining process.
Tessa wanted to say something, now that Sally was no longer present, but her respect for Jennifer allowed her to bide her time until she could speak to her alone about it, assuming that she would want to, and she was pretty sure she would. But the time did come soon enough. Christine had finished and got to her feet to go and have that talk. Once she disappeared inside, Jennifer began whispering the good news. A couple of knocks on the door before entering, Christine hid her mental smile. She saw her daughter placing clothes into her suitcase. “I thought you said you weren’t going to leave?”
“I thought I had no choice?”
“Everybody has choices.” Christine ventured, making her way to the side of the bed and taking a seat. “I guess I’m still learning that myself.”
Sally raises her finger and twirls it around. “Whoop-dee-doo.”
Okay, Christine thought that was really cute. She let it slide. “You would really go with me to Hilton Head?”
“I can’t let you go alone; you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself.”
“Well, I’m not going to Hilton Head alone.”
“Duh, I know. I’m packing.”
Again, it was killing her inside to keep it in. Her cuteness was just so adorable. “That’s not what I mean. I was thinking that maybe we could go somewhere else instead.”
“Really?” Sally wondered, still throwing stuff inside her luggage. “Like where? Cancun? Again?”
“Not a bad idea, but no. I was thinking more like maybe going to California. Work on my tan and take up some surfing lessons.”
As warm as it was inside, Sally managed to somehow freeze instantly. She slowly lifted her head. She now began to see the smile inside her mother’s eyes and it brought hers out in a most dramatic way. “You mean it? You really mean it? I can go?”
“We …” Christine firmly indicated the plural aspect of that sentence. “… can go. And yes, that’s what I mean. God help me.”
Like a gymnast with nothing to lose, Sally leaped across the bed and gave her mother a hug. Handing out a hundred ‘thank you’s’ in the process. Christine pushed her back a little, making it perfectly clear. “And you’re bunking with me so don’t go getting any fresh ideas about that hot little number of yours by the name of Josh. Understand?”
“He is hot isn’t he?” Sally retorted. She helped her to her feet and gave her one more gratuitous hug. “Thanks Chrissy, you’re the best.”
“What’s up with this Chrissy stuff all of a sudden?”
“That’s what everybody else calls you. I kind of like it.”
Christine gave her a quick peck on the nose. “Come on; let’s go break the good news to everyone, shall we?”
“After you.” Sally curtseyed. Christine opened the door to exit when she nearly had a heart-attack. Everyone was lined up down the hallway. Christine took a couple steps back by the surprise while they all began to applaud loudly. “Welcome home Chrissy.” Tessa was the first to approach her. She made her way down the gauntlet of affection that was being handed out to her one by one.
The atmosphere was electric and the place was in full swing. She went to the car to retrieve her bags. She staked claim to the last room available, and started the process of unpacking while her teenaged off-spring did likewise. Everybody went back to work, racing against a deadline that they all were too happy to comply to.
Christine volunteered to relearn some old skills when she attempted to help Trudy, Sally and the newly acquainted Charlene with the flower wreaths and love beads. Still trying to feel her way, she remained a bit tentative as the road back to familiarity was really just beginning.
Taking a break to get some evening air before supper, she stepped outside the kitchen door and looked over towards the barn. Something caught her fancy. The tow truck parked outside was an open invitation for her to go and say hello to an old friend. Something was making the wind blow right that day. The moment she got to the entrance; he was coming out holding a wrench. “Jack?”
“Christine.” He semi-mocked. This was a pleasant surprise. “How you been?” He asked her. They approached each other.
“Fine. Great. Wonderful.” She eluded, before telling herself not to over do it. “I see you still have the garage.”
“Third generation I’m afraid.”
“So,” she mused, “how did they drag you into this lame brain scheme?”
Wesley wasn’t that far away when he cared to let her know. “I’m right here.”
They looked in his direction and smiled. Jack proceeded to answer. “Nobody had to drag me. I’ve wanted to do this ever since I can remember.”
“Really?” She courted. “Imagine that.”
Just then, they were distracted by the kids stumbling out the kitchen door, laughing as it appeared they were also taking a break. “Speaking of imagining.” He blurted out. “Is it my imagination or do we have trouble on our hands?”
“We have trouble.” She said, knowing exactly what he meant. Wesley had to intervene once again. “Jack, we could really use that half inch wrench now if you care to bring it to us?”
“Duty calls.” He measured. She turned away to let him continue, but not without informing them all. “Supper in ten minutes, fellas.”
Walking back into the kitchen, Jennifer seemed mysteriously pleased. “You and Jack have a nice talk dear?”
“I always have nice talks with him.” Christine forged.
Jennifer liked the sound of that. Then she took to finding out. “Chrissy, how fond are you of that manicure?”
Funny she should ask that. The next morning found her placing a nozzle back into the pump before walking to the car window of a customer. “That’ll be ten dollars.”
She was handed the money and the driver wished her a good day. Pulling out, Jack came strolling by. “You’re a natural.”
“Lucky me.” She smirked, while placing the money into the pocket of her borrowed over-alls which read the name of Wesley Morris.
“You could have always said no.” Reflecting of course to the moment last night when Jennifer awarded her the job. Christine didn’t have to wait to respond to that one. “What? And get hit in the face again?”
Jack climbed into his tow truck and started it up. Pulling along side of her while she strutted across the lot, he stopped and rolled down the window. “Look on the bright side, you get a free lunch.” They exchanged cordial glances before he elaborated for her. “I have to go pick up some parts and run them out to Wesley and Ian. Be back in a few hours. Is there anything special you’d like?”
“A nice big juicy steak with a baked potato smothered in sour cream and butter, and a side salad with ranch dressing, and a soda. Not the diet type either.” She flaunted, then making sure of something, “Since you’re buying.” He smiled while watching her disappear inside. Shaking his head, it went to figure. “Debutants.”
“I hope you’re all happy now.” Christine stated, standing in the barn entrance, reeking of a hard days work while the boys continued to make the repairs on the bus. Jennifer was sitting on a chair nearby and off to the side. She let out a slight giggle and this is where Christine addressed her next statement, pointing. “And you, I know you’re getting a big kick out it.”
“I am not.” She playfully flabbergasted. “I just don’t think you should have put on so much make-up when you knew you were going to be out in the sun all day.”
Wesley got up quietly, and approached his weary girl, giving her a kiss on the cheek to cheer her up. “How’s my little grease monkey?”
“If only Charlie could see me now.” She envisioned. This brought Jack out from underneath. “Charlie? Who’s Charlie?”
Jennifer took over the explanation. “Charlie is her agent back in New York. He also acts as an advisor as well.”
This was an impressive little side note. Jack rolled himself back under the bus. Christine reasoned with that information, now that it was made known. “And as you can see, I could have used him last night to negotiate my contract for this job.”
“Then you’ll be happy to learn that tomorrow is your last day.” Jennifer said. “Jack’s nephew is back from college for the summer and will be taking over starting Friday.”
“Hey, Wesley?” Booger asked, coming from around the front of the bus, holding an object in his hand. “What in the world of Bill Gates is this?”
Wesley looked his way and instantly became very concerned. He pleaded. “Be careful with that boy, it’s an antique.”
“Well, what is it?” He repeated, turning it upside down and around, giving it a thorough inspection when Christine walked over to a box. “It’s an 8-track cassette player.” And as she dug her hand inside, she withdrew one to show.
“Wow,” He replied, in a shocking manner. “I have heard of these, but I always thought they were like, some kind of myth.”
Wesley carefully relieved the player from his grip. “Here, maybe you should let me hold onto this.”
“You’re not planning on installing that on the bus, are you?” Josh questioned, popping out from beneath to have a look for himself.
“Why not? It works.” Wesley told him. He went to place it back down in a much safer spot, away from inquiring hands. Booger meanwhile, walked a few feet over towards Christine and took the offering and looked it over. “Frampton comes alive?”
“One of the best albums ever recorded.” Wesley opinionated.
Jennifer jumped to concur with that. “Oh yes, Peter Frampton. I remember that album all to well.”
Still under the bus and being quiet up until now, Ian broke his silence. “Hey Jen-Jen, isn’t that the album you and Wee-Wee always liked to have …”
“Shut up Ian.” Jennifer quickly interrupted. Everyone started to grin.
“Well, I’m going to go take a shower.” Christine acknowledged, when Jennifer thought to tell her. “There’s some supper on the stove if you’re hungry.”
“A little bit.” Christine said on her leave, mentioning in the process. “But I did have a big lunch.”
Jack rolled back out quickly and looked in her direction just as she turned the corner and gave him a wink. Jennifer’s sense of awareness caught that little exchange, but remained silent about it for the time being.
“Hey, you got the beetles white album in here.” Booger noted. Wesley moved to him and gently removed it from his hand. “Easy does it lad, these are precious commodities. Here, let’s just put it back into the box with the rest of them.”
Christine came out from the bathroom in her robe. She vigorously ran a towel over her wet hair while entering her room, only to be surprised to see her mother waiting for her. “Jenny, you startled me.”
“I’m sorry dear. Feeling better are we?”
“Like a million bucks. I had no idea that manual labor was so hard.” But then figuring there was a reason for her presence. “Looking for something?”
“I wanted to talk to you actually.” She replied, taking a seat on the bed with Christine joining her. “Talk? About what?”
Trying to find a way to start it, Jennifer got back to her feet. Christine looked on confused. “It’s about Jack, dear.” She began, when Christine quickly countered. “What about Jack?”
Still struggling with the difficulty of the subject matter, she gave it her best shot. “It’s not just about Jack, it’s about you too. Now, I’m not one to pry into other people’s affairs, but …” Christine nodded her head. It was now beginning to make sense to her. She let her mother go on. “… But I don’t think it’s such a good idea.”
“It’s not?” Christine motioned, deciding to go along for the fun when Jennifer sat back down next to her and explored the possibilities of conflict. “It’s just, well, with the kids so involved and all, I don’t think it would be wise if something similar were to develop with you two. Do you know where I am heading with this?”
Christine placed her hand on her mothers arm, cracking a smile. “Jenny, nothing is going on between Jack and I, we’re just friends. He’s like a brother to me.”
Jennifer breathed a sigh of relief. She got back to her feet. “Well, that’s a load off. Bare in mind, I was only thinking about the kids. I just didn’t want to see this turn into one of them Kentuckian things.”
“Kentuckian things?” Christine laughed, getting up and venturing over to her while Jennifer rushed to profile. “I hear that sort of thing happens a lot there.”
“I don’t think you have to worry.” Christine assured her. “He’s much too Beddington for me.”
“I was counting on that.” Jennifer wavered, opening the door to leave. “Goodnight.”
Christine found it all too comical. She returned to drying her hair, but with a tweak of her head and a glimmer in her eye, she pondered that scenario. Her and Jack? “I wonder?” She quickly shook it off as it was a bit of a stretch, “Naaaaaah.”
By the next afternoon, things were wrapping up. The wreaths were made, the toga gowns sown and the Earth sandals, well, they were a bit uncomfortable, as Sally would say, but Charlene held a difference of opinion. “I don’t know; they’re not that bad.”
“Should have used hemp.” As hindsight for Trudy was always one hundred percent.
Sally rolled her eyes. She took Charlene by the arm. “Let’s go swimming.”
That suggestion flew well with the older ladies also, and they could hear the boys inside the barn plugging away with their work on the bus. “That about does it.” Jack exclaimed, putting the nearly finishing touches on it. “The only thing left to do now is put in the new drive shaft and universal joint.”
“When is it going to be delivered?” Wesley asked him, while the clean up process was in full swing.
“Sometime tomorrow, at the garage. I figure we can install it Friday night then test ride it Saturday afternoon. We’ll take it to the station and fill it up.”
“I really appreciate all you have done, Jack.” Wesley brought out his hand and the two men shook.
“Don’t mention it.” Jack replied. “I’m just glad I could help, and it’s been really cool to hang out here with everyone.”
“It’s not completely like it was back in our day.” Wesley compared. “But close enough.”
“I’ll wait until then to put the tires back on so we can set her down.” Ian noted when he began to walk out with Wesley curious to know. “Where are you going?”
“I have to make a phone call, then I’m just gonna finish cleaning up down at the pond.”
“Not a bad idea.” Josh told to Booger, who somewhat agreed before Jack brought to their attention. “Not until you clean this mess up.”
“Us?” Josh recoiled. “Why do we have to clean it up? Aren’t you going to help?”
“Clean up is always the job of the apprentices.” Jack explained. Wesley issued a wink and slapped him on the shoulders. “Come on; let’s catch up with the girls.”
“Did you hear Trudy say something about hemp?” Charlene asked Sally while they were standing on the shore just a few feet from the pond, taking off their shorts with bikinis underneath.
“I know.” Sally shared the same concern. “What is it about hippies and pot? I can just see it now, half way to California and we get pulled over and we all go to jail for possession. That’ll look good on my college resume’.”
“College?” Charlene squirmed. This didn’t make much sense to her. “That’s like three years off, and you’re thinking about college?”
“Sure, why, haven’t you thought about it?”
“Girl, I have one more year of high school to worry about getting through much less college. Besides, I think I’ll just let Booger take care of me.”
“Yeah, that’s a plan.” Sally joked. Charlene tried to flick her with her towel before they started to wade around the edges of the water when suddenly, Ian began whooping and hollering, running down the path and in the buff, duplicating his prior actions, hurling himself in the air and belly flopping into the water.
“Will someone please make him stop doing that?!” Sally shrieked. Charlene joined in with their quivering of getting the willies. “That really is like, so gross.”
He emerged from his dive just a few feet from the women when Jennifer finally spoke out. “Ian, nobody wants to see your wrinkled old dinky anymore, and that thing is so small, who in the world do you ever think you’re gonna please with it anyhow?”
Spitting some water from out of his mouth like some European statue fountain, he pleasantly replied. “Me.”
“Well, that would stand to reason.” Tessa commented.
And as the afternoon wore on and into the early evening, Christine arrived back from her duties while supper was being brought out to the picnic table. “How was your day, dear? Jennifer inquired. Christine hopped out of the car and happily disclosed. “I am officially retired from the petroleum business.”
“That’s nice.” Her mother shot back, before advising. “You were planning on taking a shower before eating, right?”
Of course she was, and when everyone had enough and there was nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the twilight, all thoughts went to their up coming travels. Tessa was the first to mention. “Has anyone come up with the route we’re going to be taking?”
“Ian and I have been discussing it the past couple of days.” Wesley answered her. “And we thought it would be a fitting tribute to take the same route as we did in seventy-three. How does that sound?”
“I like it.” Gilda uttered, when Jennifer’s memory was jarred. “Isn’t that when we took ninety-five South to ninety-three to Boston?”
“And we cut across ninety West to Chestnut Hill, where we spent the night at the Butterflies of Boston commune.” Tessa recalled before going on to ask the million dollar question. “I wonder what’s left of it?”
“We’re going to soon find out.” Wesley told her, moving right along. “We’ll stay on ninety West and go through Chicopee, Massachusetts and swing by the Harping Angels old place.” This brought a bitter statement from Jennifer. “I never did care for that commune.”
“Why’s that?” Sally questioned. Her mother stepped in. “Because, if I remember correctly, that was an all girl commune. Isn’t that right Jenny?”
“It was the best camp in the country.” Ian added. Everyone wore smiles from that remark while Wesley continued. “Anyhow, we’ll continue on down to Rotterdam, New York and see what became of that place.”
“What was that commune called?” Charlene now got into the conversation. Wesley just simply shrugged his shoulders and replied. “Rotterdam.”
“Not very original.” Sally sized up, while Jennifer would explain. “Not everyone was doing LSD dear thus, creating a lack of creativity.”
“Can we get off the drugs?” She nearly pleaded, when more laughs came withering out from the bunch. Ian took charge. “Yea, and from there we like, take ninety all the way to Erie, Pennsylvania and check in on the People of Peace.”
“Do you really think that any of these places will still be there?” Trudy raised the issue. After all, it was an issue that needed raising. They each harbored that thought, but as Wesley would say, “We’re still around so who knows.”
“Yeah, but we’re not exactly normal.” Gilda professed, which led Ian to purposely clear his throat as if he was trying to debate that somewhat. This drew some fainted stares. Wesley picked it back up. “Anyway, we’ll take ninety all the way to Cleveland, Ohio and cut down seventy-one South, to Columbus then shoot over to Indianapolis and on pass Cloverdale on seventy West. But we’ll bypass the communes in Ohio and Indiana since we already know they were definitely closed down.”
“How do you know that?” Sally was again thriving to learn. Tessa quietly revealed. “Charles Manson had ties to those camps and after what he did, well, you could understand.”
“Not all camps were about the same ideals and principles as we were.” Jennifer also educated her, and concluded by saying, “As it is with everything in life, there is the good and there is the bad.”
“Well put.” Wesley commented before rounding out the rest of the trip. “We’ll stay on seventy through St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, and all the way to Denver where we will connect to twenty-five South, to Colorado Springs and the Springs of Hope community, if they’re still there, of course. Then it’s on to Santa Fe, New Mexico where we’ll hit forty West, through Flagstaff, Arizona and into California. From there we take ninety to State Route fifty-eight, hop on five North to one fifty-two and pull right into Santa Cruz. ”
“Oh, I remember the Springs of Hope.” Jennifer gasped warmly. “Doris Mayfield, and her husband Mickey. Oh, they are such wonderful people. Do you remember Wes? When we went there in seventy-three, we arrived the day before they got married? Oh my, that was such a lovely wedding.”
“I remember that.” Tessa shared, getting emotional. “I caught the bouquet.”
“Well, you should have,” Gilda mentioned with a laugh, “you plowed everybody in front of you.”
“I was very excited.” She answered. They all enjoyed that moment.
“It sounds so romantic.” Sally was envisioning, when it then occurred to her to ask, “Jenny, why haven’t you and Wesley gotten married?”
“We almost did.” Wesley quickly jumped in before Jennifer broadened that proposal. “Actually, he said that if I caught the bouquet then we would, but,” as she faced her longtime friend, “we know how that turned out, don’t we?” Tessa became a slight bashful, whimpering out her late apology. “Sorry.”
“Think nothing of it.” Jennifer responded. “My bruises only took three weeks to heal.”
Now that required a group laugh-a-thon which only lasted for a mere moment before headlights from a very big truck came pulling into the drive, shinning upon them like deer caught in the road, prompting Jennifer to get to her feet. “What in the dickens?”
Ian jumped up to go greet the driver. “Hey Pauly, what’s happening?”
“Alright space cadet, where you want this stuff?” He asked him. Ian started walking towards the path that led to the pond. “Follow me.”
“Ian Finnegan, what on Earth is going on?” Jennifer demanded. Ian paused just long enough to tell her. “What’s a fourth of July party without fireworks Jen-Jen?” And that was all that needed to be said. He led the huge truck back to the pond and around to the other side as everyone got up to follow them. “Just don’t stand there.” He cried out at all the distorted and yet, happy faces. “Help me unload this thing.”
“Ian.” Booger once again just had to let him know. “You are the man!”
“I had better go and break out the canopy tent.” Wesley mumbled to Jack and Christine, who were standing nearby, watching him head back.
“I should go help him.” Jack relayed, after allowing some time to sort it all out. Christine figured to tag along. “Hold up, I’ll go with you.”
“Do these types of surprises happen a lot out here?” He asked, assisting her in the dark over the now treaded weeds and brush. Christine took his hand to help keep her balance. “Not often, but when they do, they do in a big way.”
“The trip sounds like a lot of fun.” He assumed. Christine spilled her version of the real truth. “Yeah, if riding all day in a stuffy bus with so many people and sleeping in tents is your idea of fun.”
“It doesn’t sound that bad.”
“Trust me,” Christine maintained, “it’s not as romantic as Sally believes it was or will be. I should know, I have been on a few, remember?”
“I take it then that you don’t like tents?”
“Listen, it might have been the bomb back when they had covered wagons, but since the modernization of society, I have adapted too much to the idea of a nice enclosed room and a nice soft mattress and fluffy pillows. Call me new fashioned, but I cherish those kinds of inventions. They were invented for a reason.”
“But that’s the whole point,” Jack eluded, “it’s not that you have to camp out, but that you can camp out. Anyhow, it’s only temporary.”
“In the words of my daughter,” She so elegantly paraphrased while raising her finger and twirling it around, “whoop-dee-doo.”
Okay, so Ian was full of surprises and it wasn’t that he was one to come through in the clutch, it’s just that you didn’t know there was a clutch until he came through. His off the wall antics and behavior is hard to adjust to sometimes, but regardless, they always sided on the grounds of fun. He was a true free spirit and while there may be some who would debate the fact that you needed more than that to get you through this complicated world of today, for him, it was all he needed to be … free.