And i’m proud to be a hippie from olema
Where we’re friendly to the squares
and all the straights
We still take in strangers
if they’re Haggard
In olema, california, planet earth
— the prophet jesse colin young
We’re stuck in traffic in downtown San Francisco in an old pickup with a camper on back, the kind your grandparents bought if they lived through the depression and used their savings to buy a vehicle to see the world, or at least the world’s biggest ball of string. See the world today, in a Chevrolet. I have no idea where this camper came from.
Mo and I are in the back with an old guy I don’t know. He’s wearing overalls and he’s surly. He has a dog, an annoying little rat terrier sort of thing whose only redeeming value is that he’s wearing a bowler hat. Dogs and fashion. Hard to keep up.
Anna is up front at the wheel, which is odd because I think she’s 13 or 14 these days and as far as I know has no idea how to drive. But we’re leaving the city on a crowded freeway that has us pinned in, so I suppose driving skills aren’t required. I don’t know where Jami and Brian are; likely staying behind to guard the apartment. Rent control, you know.
Anna is smoking one of Brian’s cigars, so it’s hard to see her in the cab through the haze. Or maybe it’s the heavy smoke from the fire that is hanging over the Bay Area. I have no idea how we got here; only that we need to flee as the fire marches closer.
She drives with her left elbow propped up on the open window, the other barely touching the steering wheel as we veer from left to right to left, bouncing off vehicles and traffic barriers as the white stripes pass by. The painted ones, not the band. I don’t think they’re together these days.
The old guy in back wants pancakes. Mo explains that we can’t have pancakes because we had pancakes for breakfast before he showed up, and besides there’s no internet access here so she can’t look up the Martha Stewart recipe. The dog growls ominously. The old guy settles for oatmeal.
We drive for what seems like forever, but it’s hard to tell in dreams. The dog is an annoying whistler, which is unfortunate because he’s a Merle Haggard fan. I make a mental note never to take road trips with dogs who whistle. The traffic starts to thin out as we eventually make our way out of town.
We stop in Olema, so we can sing the Youngbloods “Proud to be a Hippie from Olema” spoof of Haggard, annoying the mutt greatly. And besides, it’s been an hour and Anna has to do her homework. Remote learning, you know. We get out to walk and to avoid possible algebra questions. The dog stays, whistling “Okie from Muskogee” while scowling, if little rat dogs know how to scowl, and apparently they do.
The old guy wants to play frisbee golf in the Olema park where we’ve stopped, using the leftover pancakes from breakfast. I point out that there aren’t any because we had oatmeal.
We compromise by playing oatmeal golf. It doesn’t work very well, but seems heart-healthy.
When we come back to the camper, Anna is wearing the bowler and the dog is smoking the cigar. Anna veers back onto the road, clipping a San Luis Obispo road sign and an ancient Volkswagen van. Flower power this, baby.
I hope the dog isn’t going to drive a shift. The old guy scowls, fishing oatmeal out of his pockets. We drive.
I wake up.