Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 47, November 1972
I was sitting in my trailer, working over a chapter on raising bees for our Homesteader's Handbook. It was an unusually warm, sunny afternoon, so I left the door wide open. I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from Ella.
“Hi, Rich. I came to say good-bye to you and Jodi. She wasn’t at the house.”
“She went to town to do some shopping. Come on in. I have some tea water on. Want a cup of peppermint?”
“Sure.” Ella climbed into the trailer and sat across from me at the table. She looked gorgeous as usual, brimming with enthusiasm.
I filled a cup and placed it in front of her, “So, what’s good-bye all about? Where are you off to?”
“I’m moving down to Oakland, where my cousin lives. Mike and I broke up, and I want to receive Knowledge.”
“That’s the thing that Mahraja offers. I read that magazine at your place.”
“Yeah. It’s Maharaji, actually. My friend Patsy came back from India, and whatever she’s got, I want. I mean, she and her friends just glow with love. Maharaji reveals an experience. He gives you the tools to access inner peace.”
Ella was really buzzed and I was catching a contact high. After reading Autobiography of a Yogi, this made sense to me. “So, what’s the cost for this thing?”
“It’s free. He doesn’t charge. Says it’s already inside of you. He just helps you access it.”
“Sounds cool.” Ella was looking great and charged up, she was even more attractive. My eyes were enjoying every moment.
“I can’t wait. I’ll give you my Oakland address and phone number. If you’re in the area, stop by.” I handed her a pen and paper and she scribbled a few lines. As she did, I saw a flash of turquoise as Jodi drove by in her Studebaker. She parked by the woodshed and came to the trailer door.
“Hi, Jodi. Ella’s moving to the Bay Area. She dropped by to say good-bye.”
Ella stood up and stepped down out of the trailer.
I called after her, “We’ll see you. Good travels.”
“See you.” She waved as she and Jodi walked off towards the house. I turned back to my work, feeling a buzz.
By the third week of November, I realized that my relationship with Jodi couldn't survive. What to do about the ache in my core—the poison wilting my spirit? There's no way I could go on like this! It was clear that the mission I had undertaken to open Jodi’s heart was unattainable and I needed to break free to preserve my sanity.
I tried to busy myself, hoping to distance my thoughts from the shadow that weighed on me. When I watched Hanna amuse herself, I realized that I longed to play again too. She was the breath of fresh air in this relationship. Who would have thought I'd take to parenting? Saying good-bye to Hanna would be the worst.
I knew what I must do, but my mind tortured me to the end.
It took most of the day to get up my nerve. Finally, I leaned into the kitchen and asked Jodi if she would step outside. After a few minutes, she appeared, pulling a light-blue jacket over her shoulders. “Hey, lady, we need to talk.” With my gut churning, I motioned for her to sit next to me on the steps.
A minute passed before I could speak. “The last thing I want to do is hurt you,” I managed to say, “but this isn’t working out. I guess we’re just too different. I know there's a lot of love between us but something's off. And whatever it is, it’s killing me. And when I’m suffering, I don’t treat you right—which sucks! I just know we can’t continue like this.”
Jodi reacted as she did with all things. She stared at the floor, her head cocked in a familiar manner, her face revealing nothing. In a solemn, submissive voice, she mumbled, “Whatever you think is best.”
Why can’t she just slap me? Get angry? Or shed some tears for God’s sake! Show that there's a spark of life in there. But as usual, her demeanor was emotionless acceptance. Yet I knew this had to hurt.
Her belief system was based on surrender, the “Thy will be done!” phenomena. Which might have been admirable if her experience included joy. A Buddhist cartoon I’d seen years before flashed through my mind. The first panel presented a monk with only his robe and bowl. The second panel showed a robber stealing these items—all he had in the world. The third revealed the naked, smiling monk sitting on a wall under a full moon with the caption, "If he only knew, I wished I could have given him the moon too.” That Zen level of detachment had inspired me. But this was different.
With Jodi, it was more about subservience. Being beaten down by belief to a point of having no personal power or feelings of her own—or at least the ability to express those feelings. It broke my heart but I couldn't help her overcome her lack of will. I interrupted the silence by gently placing my hand on her shoulder, feeling like a big shit. “It’s just not healthy the way it’s going,” I said. “I’m sorry, but it'll be better for both of us.”
Without taking her eyes from a spot on the ground, she said in a voice so low I could barely hear, “Would you mind staying here with the animals while I visit my mom?”
“I’d be glad to do that for you,” I said, relieved to offer something other than bad news. “You know, even though we won't continue as a couple, I really care about you. I hope we can still be friends. I have no regrets. No matter what you may think, I know you're a wonderful person.” I hoped she understood that I sincerely meant what I was saying.
Jodi stared in silence, in that same suppressed position that so aptly described her demeanor. A demeanor I'd hoped to change. A demeanor I'd failed to change!
I released her shoulder, stood up, and walked out of the yard. “Let’s take a walk, Charlie.” My companion sprang into action, leading the way. The pressure that had been building for so long was finally releasing. A mixture of sorrow and relief overcame me. And as I headed down the dirt logging road, I felt lighter with every step.
When I returned to the house, I noticed that Jodi’s Studebaker wasn’t there. I moved my things out into my trailer and didn’t hear her car return until after dark. A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door. I opened it and she looked up without entering. “My mom bought me a plane ticket. I’ll be leaving next Saturday and will return the day after Christmas.”
I said, “That’s five days from now. I need to go to the valley to work on my book. I’ll be back Friday to take care of the place. How are you doing?”
With her usual downward glance, she replied, “I’ll survive. Thank you for helping with the animals.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m really sorry, but this is best. Does Hanna know?”
“Yeah. I told her.”
“I should talk to her too.”
“Thanks. Maybe in the morning. I need to get her to bed.”
I agreed, and without looking up, she turned and walked away.
The next day, I met with Hanna and promised we'd remain friends. She took it well and then went off with her mom, probably to the Wilkins’ home where Jodi did housework twice a week.
I loaded my truck for my journey down the canyon, looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my buddies. Seeing the forest across the road gave me an idea. I'd cut some Christmas trees for my Christian pals. With a hatchet and a saw, I went into the woods. At places where three or four small trees were squeezed together, I figured thinning would offer a service to the woodland—while providing cheer for my valley friends.
With four trees secured in my camper, I headed out of town.
To be continued...
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Trippin': Roads, Rails & Mountain Trails
In book 2 of his Hippie Adventurer Series, Rich takes us on another wild ride during the 1960s as he and his faithful canine companion, Charlie, hitchhike, hop freights, work in an Alaskan gold mining camp, and manage a Sacramento Valley cattle ranch.
A Message from Rich
Trippin’ is my gift to all of you. For me, the ’60s were a heartfelt time of growth, exploration, freedom, and brotherhood. I hope to impart a truthful account of what it was like to live as a hippie in that wacky, magical era. Enjoy the journey!
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If you haven’t read the first book in the Hippie Adventurer Series, the award-winning Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes, you can find it on Amazon and Audible.
1A. Escape from Heavy Caverns