Last Saturday we made our annual pilgrimage to Street Fair. We got up, packed and took off, (after stopping for breakfast, of course). We are only human, and we love breakfast.
The road was filled with orange barrels, screaming trucks and aggressive drivers. A direct violation of the spirit of Yellow Springs in general and Street Fair in particular. All the way past Catawba, Choctaw Lake, and South Vienna the battle rages, modern jousting matches between knights in black Mustangs and Ram pickups battling for a small edge, anything to prove who is king of the road.
Turning south on Highway 68 the air clears, colors are a little brighter, not so much soot, grime, anger crusted on the grass and wild flowers are lining the road. It is a little easier to breathe. Eight miles later things slow down, cars are parked on both sides of the street, bumper to bumper, people are walking down the sidewalks.
Music floats, just out of reach, a suggestion more than a sound. Everything changes. It gets crowded, it gets slow and it gets happy.
Street Fair isn’t an event, not just an event anyway; it is a feeling, it is a statement, it is a Grateful Dead song in the middle of a Ted Nugent album. There are no NRA booths, nothing about walls or bans. Oh, there is plenty of militancy, but it is about women’s rights, about the legality of being human, about the beauty of being in love.
It is a wellspring of goodwill, at least if you’re a liberal, I suppose. Although I did see one MAGA hat, and there may have been more. But mostly this is a homemade soap, liberal arts, love-your-neighbor little town, and if your neighbor is from Ethiopia or The Sudan so be it.
“No matter where you’re from you are welcome,” signs all over.
Walking back to our car we wandered past an old bus, all painted in rainbows, hearts, lightning bolts, crazy wonderful art, colorful and vibrant. It was an event, all by itself. It was friendly and welcoming, nostalgic and groovy. We decided to take each other’s picture with it.
A whirlwind of bustling smiling enthusiastic energy flies out of the door of the bus, breathlessly “Do you want me to take a picture of both of you?” There, in person was the living, breathing, happy spirit of Yellow Springs Street Fair. From her Rasta hair to her hand-painted jeans to her canvas sneakers she was “a free spirit.”
Her name was Amber, and she was outgoing, and she was happy. She was used to people stopping to take a picture of her bus, and I believe she was also used to snapping a picture of people standing by her bus.
She is from Indiana, and has driven her little home away from home as far as Nevada. Street Fair is a short hop for her.
We took the grand tour of her bus. “Forgive my mess I was getting ready to make a pot of chili.”
She was making a pot of chili! In her bus! I am confident she would have shared, gladly. In the true hippy spirit.
Across the roof of the bus are laminated concert tickets, she had been to over a hundred. She saved the stubs and spread them in a small solar constellation of good memories. She has a ticket stub to an Elton John concert with a $10.00 price tag. Talk about a golden oldie.
She told us about her daughter who was born on St. Valentine’s Day, and how much she has loved hearts since then. It was one of the things that drew her to the bus. She told us about taking her mom to the Hippy Festival in The Hocking Hills, and how much fun they had.
I gave her a cherished treasure, a hand-painted rock from an amazing artist in New Zealand. It had a VW bus on it with a Peace license plate. I didn’t plan on doing it, and thought I might keep the rock forever. It just seemed like it belonged with her.
And she was thrilled. We parted ways, but she gave me a “business card.” Her business is spreading happiness and the message of peace.
Amber was an example of the values that could shape our nation, live and let live, love and let love, kindness is always an option. We need to take heart in the fact that Amber is out there, that there are Ambers left in this world. We can make the world a better place.
We can be like Amber #MakeAmericaHippyAgain. #RiseOfTheHippies.
In the words of the Police;
“We can all sink or we all float,
Cause we’re all in the same big boat.”
You can follow her on Instagram at GeriatricGypsyBus. I am still trying to figure out how to find her on Facebook, but if I do I will post it in a later piece.