HALLEY’S COMET AND THE END OF HIPPYHOOD – Marilyn Armstrong

I did take a lot of drugs … but I never considered them a “religious” or otherwise “exalted” experience. They were fun. Music was magical and just being outside and watching the stars was a glorious experience. In all those years, I never had a bad trip. But I was always careful about where I used stuff and who I was with. I never did understand people who took those drugs and then did things like go grocery shopping.

Why bother? Just go grocery shopping. The drugs were a kind of mini-vacation for weekends with the people you loved to be around.

When Tom met Timothy Leary while he was working, he got to tell him that he had used his travel service many times. I wish I’d been there to say thanks, too.

I stopped using them when my body stopped reacting well. It was, in fact, my 39th birthday and I was in Jerusalem.

Halley’s Comet was in the sky and a group of us went into the Judaean desert. We theorized we’d get a better view of it the sky from the desert. What we hadn’t known was that Bethlehem kept its streetlights on all night and they were exactly where we needed to look for the comet.  Jerusalem’s turned off its streetlights at around 11pm, so finally, we gave up and went back to our house which was right on the edge of the desert (it no longer is — that area is full of hotels and restaurants and fancy clothing stores. Where we all discovered we could see the comet just fine from the sidewalk in front of the house.

I wrote about it and it was the only article I wrote that got published in the Jerusalem Post. I wish I had a copy.

I wasn’t a hippy. I was too busy to be involved in full-time hippyhood and I was too fond of living in a comfortable house and being clean. I had a child (and in Jerusalem, three children) as well as a full-time job, a house to care for, a husband (two, at different times)(and Garry makes three just so you don’t get confused), and a lot of friends.

My home in Baka, Jerusalem

I think I had so many friends because I was one of the only people (couples) who owned big enough houses and had enough food to provide a “base camp” to one and all. In New York, everyone else lived in the dorms at school or a rental apartment and in Jerusalem, we had a really big space compared to most people.

This made me an official weekend hippy. Regardless, my brain had to be clear and functional before the start of work on Monday. I had clear limits.

All of us — the whole gang — grew up to be hard-working and well-respected people who believed in the value of work and understood that drugs were fun, but not a lifestyle. I was one of the people who watched hippies on TV and wondered how they dealt with all that MUD and grunge.

It was a strange and fascinating decade and a wonderful time to be young. I had already recovered from having my spine “repaired,” so I was happy to be alive. I definitely needed a baby. I always remind Owen that he was definitely no kind of accident. I wanted him and it wasn’t easy to produce him, either. When one gets so close to death, making new life seems the way to go.

Those were great years. By then, I was out of that gigantic plaster cast and braces and could (mostly) do what everyone else did. Arthritis came years later and for the next 20 years, I was fine. That was when I also took riding lessons. I had sent my son to riding camp and I realized he was learning to ride, but I was still waiting.

Mount Gilboa when the wild iris bloom

From the other side of the mountain

So, I learned to ride and then to climb. I climbed Mount Gilboa to see the wild iris in bloom and climbed down Land’s End because my stupid ex-husband dared me to do it. I swam naked in the Mediterranean and played bridge all night. I never seemed to need sleep back then.

Other than the battles with the ex, the rest of my life was what I wanted. When I got upset, I got into my tiny little car and drove around the old city. It was amazing at night with the lights on the stone walls. I never imagined I would leave it and I still dream about it. In my sleep, I can still speak Hebrew.

People spent an awful lot of time categorizing people into “groups.” If you took drugs, you were a hippy. Never mind if you also worked a 50 hour week, hauled groceries and tended your garden and when the time came to not take drugs, you simply stopped taking them and life went on.

The Banias by Mount Hermon

There were some really great memories back then. I remember tripping high up on the Banias in the Golan and realizing — for the first and final time — that the problems in the Middle East were never going to be solved. Someday, the Arabs would get their act together and push little tiny Israel into the sea, just like they said they would. It wasn’t a bad trip, but it was a realization and a revelation that sometimes, what you most wish for isn’t going to happen. No amount of hoping, wishing, planning, and negotiating will make it work.

That was probably as close as I ever got to a druggy religious experience. We had been talking about The Country and all its problems. How we knew, even if the rest of the world didn’t seem to catch on, that the reason Israel had not been overrun was (1) American foreign aid, (2) American fighter planes. Nixon, in the middle of Watergate, stopped to make sure the fighters were shipped to Israel and that is why the Yom Kippur war wasn’t a national catastrophe. And why Israelis thought of Nixon as a hero — a thing I found hard to reconcile. And (3) that the Arab community was just as much at odds with itself as with Israel and that’s why they never managed a sustained military campaign.

That has changed since terrorists seem to have replaced armies, but they are still fighting each other. If they weren’t doing that, they would have enormous power to change their world. And everyone else’s.

8 thoughts on “HALLEY’S COMET AND THE END OF HIPPYHOOD – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. You’ve had some really good times and experiences, Marilyn, and the best ones seem not to have involved drugs. Great post. 🙂

    Like

  2. I love reading stories such as this. It shows that we can all get along IF we’re willing to. The hippies might have been bad mouthed by ‘the establishment”, but they had the right idea. Too bad it didn’t last. I was a child in the 60s, and although I saw my fair share of drugs (never did them, but I was around the culture) in the 70s and 80s (everyone smoked pot, except me it seems), I just never ‘got’ why people wanted to take them. Hubby helped explain it somewhat, with all his stories of the drugs he used in his day – he did most all of them except heroin I think – and I thought, at one time, how cool it would have been to have experienced ‘pure’ acid (the Timothy Leery (Leary?) kind) or mushrooms, but never had the opportunity. Later both hubby and I concurred that it would have been a very bad idea as my mental health status isn’t too stable to start with. Hubby thought a bad trip would have been inevitable, and I had read a book (can’t recall the title, but the writer wrote a lot of YA books in my youth), where one kid took LSD on quite a few occasions and messed up his DNA so he could never have ‘normal’ children (malformations and/or birth defects would have been inevitable). That scared me. I don’t know how factual that idea is, but hubby did get flashbacks now and then.

    Like

    • The deformed baby thing was a hangover from the Thalidomide babies of earlier years. Hard to know what would happen if you actually took a lot of drugs WHILE pregnant, but I NEVER heard of anyone having any problems making normal babies unless they were alcoholics. THAT is a real thing.

      The Thalidomide horror really scared the wits out of most girls my age and we weren’t taking any chances. If you were planning a pregnancy, you didn’t use drugs, didn’t drink, and often wouldn’t even take normal “over the counter” drugs, or for that matter, what some doctor advised because that’s how the whole Thalidomide disaster occurred.

      I don’t think anyone needed to take drugs to have fun, though. A lot of people didn’t take drugs but enjoyed hanging out with people who did. Also, some people liked booze and didn’t like pot. And vice versa.

      It turned out the pot was a lot less damaging than the booze. I never liked alcohol and still don’t, but I married two alcoholics, so go figure, right?

      The thing that was so wonderful about those days was the freedom to do what you wanted. We had a lot of freedom and I think we believed anything was possible. We believed in the future.

      That was the good part. The rest was entertainment.

      Like

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.