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Taken from Joan's book
AND A VOICE TO SING WITH:
Way up there on Struggle Mountain, peering up into the oaks, waiting for the sun to hit the top branches of the eucalyptus trees, I escaped with Gabe on a silent, wingless, flying horse.
"We lived in the Los Altos Hills on a quarter-acre of land we called
Mountain. Ours was a shacklike house attached to another just like it. A couple hundred yards away was a very old two-story house in which eight or nine people lived communally. We were all vegetarian, and we all had gardens. David and I used to sit out front on the stoop by the petunia bed, and God-knows-who would come by and invite themselves to sit down. Most often we’d make them tea, and David would talk about The Resistance and I’d listen and then get up and wander around and go make bread. Next door lived Robert and Christy. Robert was a draft resister, but his number never came up. He and Christy didn’t wear any clothes in the summer. Later, when Robert and Christy were more like family, he’d come in to use the pencil sharpener, and sitting down at the kitchen table I’d be eye level and two feet away from his groin, and could watch, or not when he sharpened his pencil. For a while after David’s arrest, I stopped wearing anything either, and so did most of the Struggle Mountain commune people who shared the property. One day the fire truck pulled up outside the fence and about fifteen firemen pretended to be looking for brush fires, but while glancing into the telescope, they also glanced over the fence, and I didn't feel uninhibited at all. I felt the way you do in a dream when all of a sudden you are naked and walking down Broadway.
I tried so hard to be a good wife. My demons attacked me ferociously, and I spent hours at the psychiatrist’s trying to change myself from being Queenie into being Wife.
David got a Samoyed named Moondog who was terribly appealing if not too bright. He was untrainable, but had a winning smile, and David let him wander in and out of our tiny house at will, smiling and tracking mud onto the kitchen floor and the triple pile rug that covered the living room. One day I blew up because I had just vacuumed the house when Moonie scratched once and yelped twice and David let him in. I cursed at the mud tracks, “Goddammit, David, I just finished cleaning, plus that dog is scratching holes in the door.”
David asked which was more important, the dog or a plank of wood, and I said, “You are forgetting something. Me. I’m more important.” But David said I was anal-retentive, and I said I needed to be taken out to dinner. H e said being waited on in a restaurant was counterrevolutionary, and I said I still needed to be taken out. I said he bought books and buying books was a bourgeois luxury that poor people couldn’t afford, and if he was spending thirty dollars a month on books, he could spend the same amount on me. It was mostly my money anyway. I just wanted him to make a fuss, over me!
One day three women’s libbers came up to register some complaints. They didn’t like the poster The Resistance had put out. It was a picture of Pauline and Mimi and me all wearing hats and looking like the three little maids from Gilbert and Sullivan’s
Pirates of Penzance
, and the caption said ‘GIRLS SAY YES TO BOYS WHO SAY NO.’ I thought it was clever. The feminists hated it because it said ‘girls’ and because the women shouldn’t have to answer to anyone, especially men, not yes or no. They wanted the poster taken off the market. I honest to God didn’t know what they were talking about. But I kept running back and forth to the kitchen, fixing them sandwiches and lemonade, while they nudged each other and looked in exasperation at the ceiling. David raved on about The Resistance and called women “chicks.”
In spite of our troubles, I was faithful, very faithful even when nothing was working, and I cried a lot at night, and h was endlessly patient and hoped everything would work out. Sometimes it did work out, and I was so proud. Proud that I could actually be a wife and feel calm and happy for a while."
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