The first time I met people who lived in a school bus, was on Indian land.
In the Real World, Richard Nixon was President. The Vietnam conflict had ended. Young boys returned home as old boys. Peace and Protest songs morphed into tunes of spiritual quests. People set off on voyages of self-discovery only to find themselves, exactly where they had begun; older, not necessarily wiser with more lines on their faces, pounds around their middles and fewer hairs on their heads. They wanted to get away from The Man, whoever he was and to find themselves, wherever they had lost themselves.
In the world I lived in, that of Indian land, there were days when a cotton white cloud trail, broke the sky. My Grandmother told me that they were airplanes, metal containers flying across the world, delivering people from one place to another. When those cloud puffs appeared, I would rush out to the plains, lie down on my back and watch until the last one vanished.
Who was on the airplanes?
Where were they going?
What were they doing on the airplanes?
Could they look down and see me on the ground looking up?
I wished that they would stop and take me with them.
An airplane never stopped on Indian Land, but something nearly as spectacular did.
It was an old yellow school bus, that arrived in a swirl of dust clouds. The bus was decorated with flowers and stick figures, rust and peace signs, windows coated with grit on both sides. It came to a space, stopped, doors on hinges slid open, exposing an interior with beds and curtains. The people got out. They had oversized hair, wore hemp clothing and sandals, with four-stringed guitars and beads dangling from their necks.
Looking in awe at the desert surrounding them, they walked in circles. They could see there were no people or modern conveniences; no houses or automobiles, other than their own. This seemed to make them happy. The leader called out, “Far out man,” and the echo returned. This made them so happy that they unloaded their bus, right then and there; trunks, misshapen boxes, and piles of colorful clothes spread over the ground of Indian Land.
The Hippies had arrived.