• Alicia: A Hippie in search of her dream

    by Erika Fiske

    Alicia is a hippie born at the wrong time. She keeps traveling back and forth across the country, looking for something that isn’t there anymore. Thursday morning she stopped in Monterey, but just for a moment. Tomorrow she’ll be gone.

    She managed to find the homeless community near Del Monte Shopping Center and was seated on a small crate by a young man named Josh. Even with a coat on and warm sunshine, the wind was icy. Josh explained that people like Alicia are known as “rubber tramps,” because they at least have cars.

    Thin and attractive, her hair held back by a long scarf, and wearing a long, multi- colored skirt, moccasins, six rings, three necklaces and a tiny ring in her nose, Alicia reminds me of my college days, when hippies were everywhere and protests were large and effective.

    She’s just 24 and sounds well educated, although she didn’t finish high school and never went to college. She travels with a handsome, three-year-old pit bull/blue terrier mix named Buckwheat.

    “My mother said, ‘You were definitely born in the wrong era,’” Alicia noted. “She believes in reincarnation because of me.”

    But Alicia’s mother also worried for years, while her daughter hitchhiked here and there. Luckily, she remained safe. “My mother said I was smart and artistic and felt I was wasting my life,” she said.

    But Mom is finally used to her daughter’s adventures and waits for each call, so she can look up the place on her computer, Alicia said. Right now she’s probably checking out Monterey.

    Alicia is on her way to Joshua Tree, where there’ll soon be a Shakti Festival for people just like her—complete with yoga, chanting and other hippie things.

    “I have some friends down there who are also homeless and have two kids,” she said.

    Alicia comes from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She grew up with abusive fathers (her mother married a few times), was expelled from high school for smoking pot and had a string of boring jobs that paid little—including one in a head shop selling pipes and crystals.

    Alicia couldn’t see herself stuck in that forever, so she hit the road.

    She left New York in 2009 and never looked back, traveling to 40 states already. Along the way she picked up a friend with a car, and that’s how she’s getting to Joshua Tree.

    I asked Alicia what she would like to see happen down the road. “Since I was a little girl I had a dream that I’d get a no- kill farm and live off the land with cows, goats and chickens, in Costa Rica or Peru maybe,” she said. But even Alicia has to admit she’ll need a good job someday to pay for such an adventure–something better than her mother found. “My mother had my sister when she was 21 and me a few years later,” she said. “She held two jobs most of our childhood.”

    Besides low-paying work, her mother used food stamps and welfare to make it, while Alicia’s father “beat the crap out of us,” she said. “I learned a lot about love from my mother. I learned what not to do.”

    And with that, she rose to retrieve her dog from a nearby tree and head off to find food—and maybe realize her dream somewhere down the road.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 29, 2012

    Topics: Homeless Chronicles

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