I loved it at the time, but I didn't realize entirely that not everyone lived that way. Hence, I get lots of strange looks when I talk about my experiences growing up.
Today I was recalling some of the people I met along the way. Pretty much everyone we knew then was living "at one with nature", and I guess the first part of being at one with the universe was that you have to have a way more nature-ish name than *whatever your parents named you*. Like, Ed. Ed is not a nature name. Sorry, Ed, nothing personal...
Anyhoo--I ended up meeting a LOT of people with these awesome hippie/granola names, like The Artist Formerly Known as John But Now I'm Just MORNING STAR. Seriously, when I was 6, we lived in California, and my favorite relatives lived on a hippie commune, where I met the following people:
Ocho: This giant black man with a 70s afro, who owned the two gorgeous palomino mares in the pasture (named Mahara and Okeemo). I never really saw him, but I thought someone who owned and rode horses that big and that beautiful...pretty much had to be awesome.
Keeja-Ho: A toddler who wandered around, apparently without parents, wearing nothing but a diaper, and for some reason, she also always had a quarter taped over her belly button. Just...what? At the time, I supposed it was to make her giant "outy" belly button somehow be less "outy", but...what shaman prescribed that, I wonder. Maybe it was...
Rainbow: A faceless man who I only remember because of his name. Because, who wouldn't remember a man named Rainbow? He was also present in the room, if memory serves, when my mom gave birth, in her bedroom at our house, to my brother. There was a circle of chairs in the room for that event, and Rainbow and I had front-row seats. I was 5. (I never wanted to have kids, after that experience. But by the time I was 26, after much reassurance by my OB/GYN that ANESTHETICS ARE GOOD, I talked myself into it, and it's been great.)
Eurydice: A girl who was slightly older than 6-year-old me, who I idolized. She rode horses and jumped them. She knew how to ride in an English saddle, and had the cool English riding outfit, complete with the jaunty hard-hat thing that they used to wear before everything required helmets, because now of course nothing is safe unless you wear a helmet for the love of God what are you doing bareheaded right now??!! You should probably put on a helmet because you could fall off that office chair and get a concussion and then I'd be on the hook because I didn't warn you to wear a helmet. I pretty much wanted to BE Eurydice, with her cool name and her English style...
|The only picture I have of the commune/house. It was my happy place in 1975. That's me at age 5ish, behind my aunt, on the horse I learned to ride on and had a bad horse wreck with.|
THEN in 1977, we moved to Idaho, where the names got even more interesting.
We lived 25 miles from a really small town, and there was another hippie commune a mile or so away, where I was somehow allowed to go, by horse, by myself, at age 8, and spend as much time as I wanted. (Because back then, we didn't have cell phones, we just turned up whenever, and it was OK). I also met my BEST FRIEND EVER up there, who I still adore. So I remember warmly those tepee-dwelling, schoolbus-living hippies who changed their names to:
Morning Star (and Carrie): HE was Morning Star. She was just...Carrie. Apparently she didn't change her name. Or maybe she did. I just remember that they lived in a tepee, and he liked to garden...naked...and I remember the evenings up there, where everyone would stand in a circle holding hands around the fire at dusk, singing these songs in what I think was possibly a native American Indian language. That acapella song still haunts me sometimes, and I wish I knew what it meant. Or...maybe it's best if I don't. We could have been calling on the spirit of the earth to bring us more weed or whatever for the season, and I wouldn't have known the difference. But still.
Rock: This was a couple. They BOTH went by "Rock". I grew up with their kids, and we eventually all went to the same 80s pentecostal church, after outgrowing the hippie phase, and they changed their names back to their original (unmatching) names. But at the time, my 8-year-old self couldn't get over, "How can they BOTH be 'ROCK'? How do I call one instead of the other? Is your mom Mrs. Rock?" Also, it just occurred to me (like, 35 years LATER) that their two kids were named after stones. I won't use the real names, but basically pick two precious stone names, and you have it. A family of rocks...cool. I get it!
Earth: I'm not sure, but I think this was a short heavyset lady named Constance who was very odd to talk to and used a lot of big hand gestures, but I may be mixing her up with...
Wind: Not sure if this was a name, but I figured I'd throw it in here. It was a long time ago, guys.
Fire: My friend's parents, (I think). Again-- BOTH were just..."Fire". SO difficult. They lived in a tepee, too, which means I HAVE TOTALLY SLEPT IN A TEPEE FOR REAL you guys. Not camping out. Living. If you're 8, that's awesome. I'm not sure how it translated for the grownups at the time, but I'm pretty sure the moms were not all feeling the coolness factor. Like, "Seriously, Fire. If you step in my cooking-fire and get into our bedroll with those dirty bare feet ONE MORE TIME I will hang you from the lodge pole and put hot rocks down your loin cloth. Savvy?"
Red Fox: Another big guy with an afro. All I remember about him is that his name inspired me to ask if the name "Yellow Snow" was taken... (I was 8, so cut me a break here. I thought it was hilarious at the time).
Laleña and Blake: The two next-older kids that I recall living up there. I didn't know him, but I played with Laleña a lot. She taught me to ride horses bareback, barefoot, and with just a halter for control. Us kids also all made *cough* brownies *cough* one time with a "special ingredient" that the grownups didn't know about and watched from behind a blanket/wall to see if they'd notice, giggling our heads off. (HOW did we know to do that?? Wth, parents???). I spent overnight sleepovers with her in a converted school bus, counting the stars through those weird school-bus windows, and I thought she was awesome, but I don't know where she ended up, or whether she had another name. I also just realized that her name could mean "the firewood" in Spanish. So there's that...
Kyrat: The huge bay quarter horse that I used to dream of being big enough to ride. I did get to ride him eventually, and it was one of the highlights of my pony-riding childhood. He was so huge to me that it felt like saddling up an oil tanker. I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!!! Ahmigash! Do NOT trot!!!
Magic: Actually a guy named Jerry. I think his last name may have been something like Majk or Magyck or something, hence..."Magic", or "Madge", as we inner-circle friends called him. He was a carpenter who helped us build our house and then disappeared into that vague mist of unrecalled memories.
I'm sure there were others, but these are the ones I remember. They probably all went back to their real lives in the 80s, and now they're just Ed or John again. I still remember those years fondly, but seriously...what a truly ODD decade that was.
Not that you needed to hear any of this...but I'd love to hear about any oddball 70s names or people that you remember.