One of the friends I had while living in Connecticut was a woman with the same name. That wasn’t unusual. In fact, Debbie was such a common name, I had multiple friends named Deborah or Debbie for short. This particular friend was looking for a change. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend who had fallen in love with someone else and moved away to be with her instead. When I told Debbie that we were planning to move back to the west coast, she asked if she could join us. She was one of the few people around whom we felt comfortable having our child, and we realized that it would be good to have another driver with their contribution to the fuel expense, so we said okay. A few days before we were due to leave, her ex-boyfriend decided that he had made a mistake and wanted her back. She begged us to let him join us. After much back and forth, we finally agreed. I was worried about the fact that he had broken her heart which was still feeling raw, and we were going to be trapped in a car with them. Then there was the fact that there were now four adults and a small child, with all of the belongings we could manage to fit, in a Plymouth Valiant. Paul, always the optimist, assured me that all would be well. Boy, was he wrong.
The trip was stressful even before we started on the road. We had a couple of meetings during which Debbie and Steve argued. We finally told them that one of the conditions of continuing on with us was that they agree not to argue in the car. So, they often took it outside. The car was packed so full that even the floor in the back was packed right up to the seat, so whoever was in the back had to sit cross-legged. Jessie was in the back with two adults, and I hoped that whoever was back there would help keep her occupied. That didn’t work out the way I’d hoped. Steve decided to bring along his comic book collection. They were all encased in plastic sleeves and worth a lot of money, so he didn’t want anyone but himself touching them. Tell that to a two-year old. Not only was there constant tension between him and Debbie, who didn't actually fight inside the car, as per our agreement, now he fought with our two-year old in the car over his comics during the entire trip. He also ate sardines on the road, stinking up the car, making everyone nauseous, and there was no reasoning with him. I wanted to drop them off somewhere and let them find their own way, but Paul was insistent that we needed their monetary contributions and their driving abilities.
When we got to Ohio, they wanted to stay for a few days and visit with a friend of theirs. We wanted to keep moving and had a friend in Kansas City, Kansas that we wanted to visit. We dropped them off in Ohio and drove to Kansas. The plan was for them to hitchhike and meet us in Kansas City by a certain date or we would go on without them. I hoped that they would decide not to come or would come too late and we’d be freed from this burden. Just as I started to breathe a sight of relief, because the rides had been in their favor, they showed up right at the last minute, so we had a full compliment once again.
Paul and I wanted to get to Washington State, where Amber was waiting for us, as quickly as possible, but Debbie and Steve really wanted to see the Grand Tetons. We were traveling in May, and I knew from past experience that there was often still snow in May, but there was no deterring them, so off we went to Wyoming. We hit a snowstorm and ended up spending the night in a motel, an expense that we hadn’t expected or prepared for, but it turned out to be a good thing since Jessie had picked up some stomach bug and vomited all night long. By the time we reached our destination, I had a constant headache and was running on fumes from lack of sleep.
We had a lot of grand adventures during that trip including a trip to Wind River Canyon where Jessie was picked up by the wind and carried off, causing her dad and I to chase after her, finally grabbing her foot as she went sailing through the air. We connected with old friends along the way and finally made it to Husum, Washington where Amber had just had her first child. That was the most stressful trip we made, including one to come a few years later that, although it was stressful, there were lots of fun elements that kept us going. This one didn’t have a lot of fun. Even Paul, who was very easy going with friends, had enough by that time, and was starting to fight with Steve. Once during the trip, I thought they would actually physically fight but thankfully, we were able to avoid that. We did manage to stay friends with Debbie and Steve, after a little time went by, and grew to really treasure that friendship. They were both a big part of my first two children's lives. I'm so glad to know them.
I’ve been taking these blog posts, expanding upon them, adding details and more stories and turning them into chapters for a book. I’ve been wanting to write a book for a long time and just felt overwhelmed by it. Where do I start? What do I write about? Now I figure I’ll write different themed books. One will be about my travels, maybe about my childhood, teaching, who knows. This first one will be “Recollections of a Hippie Mama.” I only have a few photos from that time, but I will include some of those as well.