I ran with the gypsies for awhile. Well, maybe “ran with” is not the correct term exactly, but I hovered just close enough to appreciate the mindset they had of not giving a damn about what mainstream society considers “normal.”
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so cautious with my involvement with that family. And sometimes I’m relieved I wasn’t totally sucked in. And while they wholeheartedly embraced me, I held back, afraid of jeopardizing my complacent future, even my eventual retirement, because I couldn’t make the leap to freedom… Or was that brand of freedom actually irresponsibility in disguise?
Just a tad too young to have been a hippie of the 60s, I have nevertheless gravitated my whole life toward those on either the cutting edge, or the fringe, depending upon your outlook. I gravitated in curiosity, as did my high school friend toward the Moonies, only I stopped just short of immersing myself in the lifestyle.
But with this particular family, circa early 1990s on the peninsula, I felt an acceptance I never felt at work, or certainly not in my own middle-class milquetoast mild-mannered family.
Back in the day with my almost-adopted family, we watched movies like “Harold and Maude” while setting the oven on fire cooking cheese enchiladas. We wrapped ourselves in flowing dresses and participated in a photo shoot for larger women in the beach dunes and posed with ancient bicycles on the boardwalk. (The photos were later featured in a show at SAM, the Seattle Art Museum.) We had elegant “high tea” in an oddly sunny and shadowed cemetery in Cle Elum. And we formed “The Secret Caesar Salad Society of Seaview,” vowing to never tell a soul about our meetings, where we ate salad with chopsticks, burned copious amounts of incense, and all assumed code names for fun, and anonymity.
And throughout those years, I could never quite cut loose and be one of them. I was merely a wannabe free spirit. Still am. And yet, just like Marilyn Munster, I still feel like I’m the one who’s different and doesn’t fit in.
The man and woman heading that household have both gone to their rewards, both much too young, one of a heart attack, and one of spinal cancer. I know they had few, if any, regrets. I won’t second-guess myself here, but I often ponder how it all unfolded, our paths crossing just long enough for me to have a good glimpse into the wild side.
“They say” with age comes wisdom, but I’m secretly hoping for something else instead.