July 20, 2014

Being a Hippie in Suburbia. ~ Jen Donnell


Hippies used to be easy to recognize.

They wore tie dye, didn’t shave and smelled of patchouli. I was never that kind of hippie. I’m the kind who eats shelled hemp seeds but also wears organic mineral makeup. It’s not unusual for me to wear red lipstick to yoga class.

I use refillable glass water bottles topped off with filtered, oxygenated PH balanced water, but sometimes buy chocolate mints at the movie theater when having a fierce chocolate fit. I juice daily, but I drink coffee daily too. I still drink soy milk even though the real hippies have switched to almond or coconut.

I might seem normal (even with my idiosyncratic hypocrisies) except I live in suburbia where, by comparison, I’m a weird leftist hippie, like, all the time.

My neighbors worship Reaganomics, while I think daily about helping the bees. As I sign petitions to help wrongly accused minorities get out of prison, my neighbors have bumper stickers about how everyone should learn English and impeach the president. When we stop to talk at the mailbox, they complain about the homeless people a block away, while I try to remind myself not to be judgmental of them, as judgment begets judgment.

I used to try and find hippie friends, like myself, but it turns out I’m not hippie enough for them. I don’t smoke pot, ever. I don’t have any tattoos. I’m not convinced the pineal gland or third eye does all that people claim it does. I don’t sense the auras of buildings I walk into, unless they smell bad or have a really ugly outdated 1970s ambiance. I don’t particularly want to live in a commune or an ashram in India. I’m Reiki certified, but it’s never done anything for me that I haven’t experienced through a good massage.

Which might mean that I’m better suited with the non-hippies, but that doesn’t work well either. At suburban picnics, I can’t understand why the hot dogs people bring have 20 different ingredients. At wine and cheese parties, the cheese is made with BGH and the corn chips contain GMOs. Don’t even get me started on my being gluten free. If politics come up, I know I’ll either piss off half of the PTA moms or excuse myself from the conversation once I realize they don’t support gay marriage.

So, I take a deep breath and then another one. I try not to feel guilty that the only ujjayi breath I pause for on some days is one of exasperation. Other times, I’m happy as a dog in the sun and want to hang out with other happy people, but our optimism pendulums don’t always sync up. Sure, I think about moving…until I drive five miles to the beach.

The waves race to the shore, big and small, then smooth as satin. The pelicans and the seagulls coexist. The negative ions in the salt water leave me feeling renewed. When my hippie friends ask if I want to smoke weed in the bathroom, I say no. I offer them fresh made watermelon popsicles as a truce, but they won’t eat them because they contain cane sugar.

My suburban friends ask if I need to borrow some sunscreen since I forgot mine, but I tell them theirs has too many chemicals. Somehow, despite it all, we coexist like the penguin and seagull, the stingrays and the shore. We learn from one another, mostly about ourselves. It’s a work in progress.


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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons


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