Deadheads

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Say what you will, but I’m pretty sure I manifested those people.

Exhibit  A: I’d been reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for about a week. I guess you could say I’d been savoring it. Oh man–Merry Pranksters and LSD! Just a day or so before, I’d gotten to the part where the Grateful Dead became the house band at the Acid Tests.

Exhibit B: Just the day before, I pulled out the hemp and began making necklaces between collecting parking fees. 

I started with whimsical mushroom pendants sent to me by a friend. The necklace-making went so well (three necklaces made in a four hour shift), I figured I could do it the three slow days of my parking lot work week. I was working on a hemp necklace when the people pulled into the parking lot.

It makes perfect sensed to me: focus on Merry Pranksters + LSD + Grateful Dead, throw in the repetitive, meditative motion of making square knots from hemp, and Deadheads are bound to appear.

The people arrived in a puff of sage smoke, with maybe a bit of marijuana in the mix.

The car was banged up, a real beater, and was hauling a battered pop-up camper. I didn’t know who the people were at first. I thought maybe they’d mistaken the parking lot for a campground (as happens fairly often). I thought maybe they were just tourists in a scruffy car, regular people who wanted to see some trees.

When the car stopped next to me, the driver had to open his door to hear my rap. (My van’s driver-side window doesn’t go down, so I’m never surprised when I see other people in the same situation.)

Are y’all here for the trees? I asked, and the driver said yes.

There’s a $5 parking fee, I said.

At that point I looked into the car and began to see.

I noticed the driver first. He had a black mark on his forehead, above his nose. He looked like a Catholic on Ash Wednesday, but having been raised Catholic, I know Ash Wednesday doesn’t come in late July.

Then I noticed the child in the backseat. She was probably three and tiny and dirty and her hair was in ratty dreads that meant her mamma had quit fighting her about brushing it. Only hardcore modern hippies have kids with hair like that.

Next I glanced at the dashboard where a lot of papers were piled up. Peeking out from the pile–upside down– I was pretty sure that was Jerry Garcia on that poster.

WAIT! These weren’t tourists. These were maybe–possibly–oh, I hope!

These were the kids!

Is that a Grateful Dead poster on the dash? I asked.

The driver said it was.

I said, There’s no parking fee!

Kids don’t charge kids, man, and these were the kids, and I’m a kid too, under this brown polyester uniform, in my heart.

The driver asked the adult in the backseat (a man younger than I am, but probably the oldest of the bunch), Do you have…something…mumble…mumble…something?

I thought they were fishing around for five bucks, but instead of money, they produced a cardboard sign featuring the words I need a miracle and an awesome drawing of a skeleton.

Hell yeah! I miracled those kids right into that parking lot!

They’d been at a Dead & Company show the night before (or maybe the night before that), and they were heading to a Dead & Company show that night (or maybe the next) but I just had to take a detour and see some trees, the driver told me.

While they parked, I got some granola bars together for them. (Being on tour is hungry work.) The granola bars were met with enthusiasm by the two men, the tiny child, and the fourth person in the party, a young woman resplendent in bold face paint and a fuzzy tail swinging from the seat of her shorts.

They weren’t gone as long as I thought they might be.

When they returned to the parking lot, I asked them how they’d liked the trees.

There were many expressions of approval and thanks.

We’d stay longer, the driver told me, but we have a date with Bobby. (That’s  Bob  Weir of the Grateful Dead, Furthur, and now Dead & Company for folks not in the know.)

I wish I could go with you! I said.

Come on, the woman said immediately. Quit your job! Come with us!

It was the perfect answer, just what I wanted and needed her to say. I’d been dreaming of running away with them from the moment I realized who they were. The last week had been hard with the heat and the bugs and the idiots, and I’d really been wanting to leave.

Turns out just being invited to go with them was enough.

I didn’t go with them, not because I didn’t want to, but because that’s not the path I’m on at the moment. Also, the last time I cast my lot with Deadheads I didn’t even know–well, let’s just say the trip was longer and stranger than I’d ever imagined it could be, from the snow of Colorado to my Southwest Louisiana homeland. Getting out of that one mostly unscathed has made me less likely to run off with strangers.

In any case, when I said I couldn’t (wouldn’t, shouldn’t) go, the older (but still much younger than I) guy stopped and looked at me, told me he appreciated what I was doing keeping it locked down for these trees. That made me feel good too, even though I’m mostly just a parking lot attendant. But yeah, I’m here for the trees, and I’m here to recognize the kids who need a miracle every damn day. (I need those miracles too, and that day, those kids were my miracle.)

The crew headed back to the car, but a few minutes later, I heard a voice say, This is for you.

The woman had returned, and while she didn’t hand me the party favor I’d been trying to manifest, (but I understand, it’s not safe to hand sacraments like that to strangers in polyester-blend pants), I was very pleased with the bundle of California white sage she presented to me.

The car left as it arrived, in a puff of sage smoke, camper trailer in tow. On the back of the trailer was a heart, inscribed inside with the words Not Fade Away, as in a love that’s real not fade away.

Don’t even try to tell me I didn’t draw those people right to me.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

8 Responses »

  1. My daughter was a deadhead for a while, so I can imagine her doing some of the things you describe. She later died young (42) of nothing remotely related to that! I miss her and her funny stories of life on the road. She also lived in a van at that time.

    • Your daughter sounds like a great gal, Marcia. I think I would have liked her. Thank you for telling us about her. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback, Ford. I really felt this piece as I was writing it, so I’m glad that came through when you were reading it. Thanks for reading and for your comments too.

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