I remember the day my grandmother took a step out of her shy and quiet self to talk about how I reminded her of herself in her early twenties. Upon this point in my life, my grandmother basically lived in mute until that one sunny August day in 2009.
Suddenly, without hesitation, my grandmother started talking about the Woodstock music festival, as if like she was having a flashback. With peace, love, and a wide variety of young hippies, she explained the life and love of how Woodstock changed her life forever.
“Boy, I’m going to tell you this because your vibrant, pot smelling, long haired wearing reminds me of the most glorious three days of my life. I was 23 at the time” she said “and I had no home other than protest rallies and random shelters I would stay at that reached all four corners of the United States.” She explained that two days before the festival, she and some other anti-war hippies were in D.C. at the Fight for Your Right march. The group decided that the next stop on their so-called peace tour would be Bethel, NY where Woodstock was going to be held.
“We packed our things and picked up a few more hikers heading up north. After a day and an acid trip later” she said they had reached Bethel. “Lines of cars, law enforcement and shoeless folks covered the road for miles that led up to the entrance of the famous music festival of 1969.”
As she was explaining this I could only ask myself, is this story going somewhere or is this story going to take a wrong turn only to try and scare me out of my free-spirited ways? Nonetheless, I sat there, stoned. I did not care where this story was going I was just enjoying her story of an event I could have been a part of.
With peace, love, drugs, and what I am assuming was not much common sense, my grandmother said the group ditched the van due to the traffic and walked their way up to the entrance of the festival. “Best part of the festival wasn’t the music, love or drugs but was not having to pay for our way into the festival.”
She explained how all three days played out in August 1969. From the acid trips, the nakedness, and even the overdoses, she said the festival was similar to that of a bi-polar person. “There were up’s and downs during the three days, but nothing is never perfect.”
She concluded her story: “son, you only live once, and you can’t find whom you really are unless you live the way you want to live,” not the words I would ever expect come out of my grandmother. I might be far from a peace loving hippy of old, however, I will continue to live freely and find where I belong in this world I call home.