At my first college, the fun one, I was officially anointed Hippie Princess one night. My vintage black velvet gown was from Bogie’s in the East Village where if I let Bogie kiss me I’d get two dresses for ten dollars. Bogie was a gross wet kisser, and even in 1968 it wasn’t worth five dollars to me. I don’t know where my tiara came from. I probably owned it. I was into clothes and accessories as a way of expressing my various persona’s. Now I wear clothes from Talbot’s. It’s weird even to me. I think that it means I’m finally secure in my own skin.
The idea of me being a princess anything was alien to me then. Though through the years I’ve been called every variation of princess: princess perfect; princess of the night; ice princess–you get the picture. Generally I didn’t consider it to be a compliment.
I liked the idea of being a hippie princess. In high school the closest I had come to a cheerleader was sitting next to one in class. I was the school hippie; my friend Karen was the school belated-beatnik. Karen was respected because of her extraordinary intellect. I almost fit in.
In my first college, I couldn’t understand why I was so popular. My friends were prettier. I thought that it had to be my hair. My hair was wild; so wild it took on a persona of its own. I think people mistook me for my hair.
I came from the in between world. Women who came just before me knew that they were going to get married just before or after graduation, teach for a few years and then stay home with the kids. Women who came just after me knew that they weren’t going to get married until after law school.
But I knew none of these things. It was easy that first year at school. I had a boyfriend. We broke up and I hung out with his friends. (He didn’t go to school that year.) We made up; we broke up. Gradually we developed a rhythm and became rather good at it.
I think I thought that I loved him very much. Like all the men who were to be in my life his hair was long but controlled. (More than I could say for mine.) He wore nice neat corduroy pants, tees and flannel shirts.
My nineteenth birthday was the weekend of the moonwalk. We were going to see Romeo and Juliet with Olivia Hussey. I was spending the weekend at my parents’ house. My dad called me down to his red burlap wall papered study:
“I don’t understand you. You used to care so passionately about the world and life. Now all you think about is that hippie boy.”
He screamed until he got it all out and I went up to my blue flower wallpapered bedroom that was covered with the cut-outs from sergeant Pepper, posters of Lou Reed, and The Stones. I was angry at my boyfriend and angry at my father and all people who claimed to be straight men.
When I went back to school, for the first time, it felt like we might not get back together. I was inconsolable the rest of the summer. Didn’t even go to Woodstock though I could have gone by helicopter and posed as a nurse. Actually I didn’t really want to do that so my depression served me well.
I felt embraced by my friends who always brought me chocolate. In my memories my dorm room that summer was a large hand planked wood and glass studio that stood alone in the woods.
I wore out two copies of Tom Rush’s “Circle Game,” because it expressed my feelings as I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t because my boyfriend told me that I was a better writer than he was and I had stopped writing.
Now he’s somewhat well known and about to become more so, and I’m not. I’m happy for him; I wrote only the beginning of our saga, and it was not at all explored. In this case I might vote for an unexamined chapter.
But when I walk into B&N or Borders or somewhere and see his name and a dedication to a woman I like who isn’t me. She’s his second or third wife depending on whether you count the time he told me we were married, my sophomore year, for reasons that helped him. You do have to count our marriage in what would have been my senior year had I remained in school. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
For the record, I bet with the side that said our marriage wasn’t going to last. Yes I bet against my marriage at my own wedding. And not for pennies.
This is not the man in the next story.