Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Running Away to Join the Hippies

The reason I became a homeless 16 year old hippy was that I was desperate, just desperate for somewhere to fit in. I was sick of being misunderstood and rejected and attacked. I was fed up of being hated and lonely and messed about.
Several years earlier: the antipathy that was like a background noise to my life had spilled over into mob violence on the estate and something crystallised in my understanding of the world. 
My burden was not manageable after all. I was the centre of a dangerous vortex that would engulf those I loved as surely as it could me. I was not going to be able to handle it by myself. Not with stoicism or backchat or violence or with any resources I was capable of drawing on. My parents couldn’t protect me, they couldn’t even protect themselves. I was fucked.
I’d felt like an outsider and a freak all my life and could point to no end of incidents and anecdotes to prove it. Never mind that every incident was different. They all involved me and they all pointed towards my utter social unacceptability.
Never mind that the child who teased me school is responding to the difference of my second hand clothes whereas the child who throws stones at the house is acting out the trauma of her home life,
And the Jehovah’s witness neighbour who  broke my bike, throwing it across the length of the cul de sac believes that respectable children aren’t left to play in the street, whereas my own vicar who won’t let me shelter from the rain in his porch may just want some privacy to counsel his flock.
Never mind that the parents who disapprove of me as a friend for their children are annoyed that no one taught me the etiquette of middle class homes except for the others who are just unnerved by my intelligence and then oh, and the other Mum who was just a smack head and no one knows why she does or says anything.  
Never mind how different each situation was, never mind how little of it is directly about me. I’m in no mood to untangle these strings. I just know I want out.  
This is a picture of me just before I left home. I'm the one with tufty litte suede head cut eating a bag of crisps. I’m on a school skiing trip to Austria which I saved up for, for over a year, out of the wages from my first job. It was completely ruined for me by another girl who consistently bullied me until the last day when we came to blows and I finally beat her in a fight.
During this holiday I asked my then best friend what she thought was wrong with me that made me so unpopular. “I can’t put my finger on it” she said “But there definitely is something” I could only agree with her.
The hippies were my last hope. I’d seen the late 90’s road protests on TV and observed the crazy hairstyles and clothes, the freewheeling life.  These were my people.  They were freaks just like me and would surely welcome me into their lives.  We would band together for mutual protection in a hostile world.
Some people tried to point out that University might be a good place for freakishly intelligent working class kids to find a sense of belonging. I dismissed them out of hand. University would be just like school and work would be just like that again. Mainstream society had spoken. It had rejected me and I had little choice but to reject it in turn. The hippies it would have to be.  
To Be Continued

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