Carol and I decided to get rid of our couch (which we got for ten bucks), so we put it on Craigslist for free. I heard from a few people who didn’t really want it, then a fellow named Gary who lives here in Geneva emailed and said he’d like to look at it. He came over with a friend, took one look, and said, “What a great couch, I’ll take it.” His friend, who was pretty quiet, said they were moving out to Sycamore, to a bigger apartment, and they liked the couch.
It is a great couch, comfy and friendly. “I’ll have a truck late Saturday, can I pick it then?” But I hope to start driving on Saturday, so he said he’d find a friend with a van.
Phone call next afternoon. “Dan, it’s Gary, I’ve got the van, can I come over now?” Fifteen minutes later a 10 year old Dodge Caravan pulls up. The driver is a woman named Sunny, who’s wearing a tie-dye tank top.
Gary and his friend wrestle with the couch, while Sunny and I move things out of the way. They’re trying to get it through the door, it won’t quite fit, and Sunny reaches over and unscrews the legs on the bottom of the couch. She’s the kind of person who knows to do things like that, and does them at just the right time. Her personality matches her name, too.
“Need rope to tie it in?” I ask. But no, of course Sunny has bungee cords.
As she’s bungee-ing the couch into the van, the three of us chat (the quiet friend leaves as soon as the couch is in the van). “Hey, if you’re not doing anything on Friday night, come on over to Sycamore Speedway,” she says. “I’m driving in the Demolition Derby.”
“What a blast,” I say, “what are you driving?”
“A mint-green Ford LTD,” she says, one from the mid-70’s. What a great car to do a demolition derby in. “I’m racing as the Menopausal Maiden from [and then she gave the name of her cleaning company, which I promptly forgot].”
Then the conversation turns to the Rainbow Family of Living Light. Do I know about them? Yes, I say, my cousin the Deadhead got involved with them for a while.
“People say, what’s the difference between the Deadheads and the Rainbow Family,” says Sunny, “They both wear tie-dye, right? –but I say, just look at the parking lot after a gathering of the Deadheads, and then look at our site after we leave. Trash everywhere with the Deadheads, but with ours, you wouldn’t even know we’d been there.”
She has pictures of this year’s gathering, and she shows them to us. “Hey, that guy’s naked,” says Gary, laughing.
“Peace, pot, and microdots, that’s our slogan,” says Sunny. “This one’s my husband. And this picture, you can’t really see it but this is looking across the meadow and that’s part of a circle of ten thousand people holding hands. I took like a panorama of pictures, one after the other, but the others are on another roll of film. And this couple got married at the gathering, on the Fourth of July.” I say, his shirt must be handmade. “Yes, and her dress is too.”
Sunny says a famous novelist often attends the Rainbow Family gatherings, which I didn’t know. I happen to know this writer’s daughter, and I ask Sunny if she has met the daughter, but she says no. She goes on: “I always say there are two most important jobs at the gathering: the shit diggers…” she pause, and Gary and I nod, of course they would be very important — “and the pocket trash people. I like the little kids who go around saying, pocket trash, and we all come out with our pocket trash.” Gary asks, what about the rest of the trash, but Sunny says, “What we pack in, we pack out. We all take our own trash out with us.”
“It’s all about healing the earth, and healing each other,” she says, “and having a good time.” We’ve been talking for a long time now, and Gary is clearly getting a little anxious, which I point out, and he says, yes he’s got a lot to do before he moves. So we all say good-bye. And maybe I’ll head up to Sycamore tomorrow, and look for a mint-green Ford LTD in the Demolition Derby driven by one of the nicest people I’ve met in a long time.