The year was 1967 and half the young people in the US (or so it seemed to me) were going to San Francisco to celebrate The Summer of Love. I had just left a bad marriage, taking my two small girls with me, and was working in a new job as secretary to an East Texas district judge. As happy as I was to be out from under the thumb of the husband, I sometimes felt that I was in way over my head. I'd been a stay-at-home mom and was learning that working a full-time job and then coming home to an evening of caring for energetic children was exhausting. Money was tight--very tight--so I worried constantly about that, and I worried that the job didn't allow me enough quality time with my kids. And I was lonely. Truthfully, I'd been lonely for a long time, throughout most of the six-year marriage.
I had watched with only mild interest the nightly news images of flocks of "flower children" showing up in San Francisco, but late that summer, just about the time I filed for divorce, my interest piqued, driven by one song that played endlessly on the radio. I was nothing even close to a hippie, had never done drugs nor aspired to, and didn't have one red cent available for traveling, but I fantasized regularly about joining those throngs of long-haired, bell-bottomed "gentle people" who were picking up and heading west.
Even if I'd had the means, I wouldn't have gone. I was a mommy, my girls were my life, and the proverbial wild horses couldn't have dragged me away from them. But sometimes, when it was late, when I was physically and emotionally fatigued, when the girls were wild and wouldn't settle down even after I'd put them to bed, I'd imagine what it would be like to thread a few flowers into my hair and shuck all responsibility.
It's rare today to hear that fantasy-inducing song played on public media, but sometimes it shuffles up on my iTunes. Even today it draws me into longings as deep as those I felt in 1967.
It's funny how something I never did has held a place in my heart for nearly fifty years.
The song is "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), performed by Scott McKenzie. Thanks to oMyBadHairDay for posting the video on YouTube.