Green Valley :: What I Did for Love
Like I said, my intention was to leave Buck Brook and go to California. Shortly after facing the world of underemployment after graduation, I'd started applying to graduate schools. Green Valley was my fallback plan. Within a week or two of landing in Orange City, I was awarded a full fellowship to Stanford.
It was the era of road trips. The plan was that my best friend Trish and I would rent or buy a car and head west and she would see me to my destination.
But my new boyfriend Paul had different ideas. The minute I moved from Abbey down to Buck Brook Farm, he began lobbying to get me to stay. I told him it was only a one-year commitment. He said if I left, I'd never return. He was sure of it.
Feminism was peaking and someone suggested that I talk to Helen Lee Barclay, the campus matriarch, the arthritic woman of a certain age who had seen it all, done it all, and always had it her way. She was an artist who wore smocks and presided over a wonderful art studio that I can't remember anyone ever using. She seemed to prefer gardening and bossing around little boys, who soaked up the attention. She harumphed.
I requested an audience, sat at her feet and explained my situation. Right off the bat, she was in favor of telling Paul to cool his jets and let me take advantage of the wonderful opportunity I'd been offered. Then a funny thing happened. She asked what I planned to study. I told her: Latin American Studies, with a concentration in Brazilian literature. I was interested in how individual authors used literature -- fiction -- to finally be able to tell the great traumatic stories of their lives and how those stories converge into the mythology of a people. Something like that. I thought it was an important question -- I still do.
"If you want to make a contribution to the world, I think you better stay here with Paul," she said and dismissed me.
I was crushed, but in an odd way relieved. I was captivated by Paul and all the values he stood for. I liked the healthy aims of the farm. I was still a midwesterner at heart, afraid of California, afraid of being sucked into a culture of personal abandon.
Trish came to visit and the road trip we took was to Chicago* and back to retrieve the remains of our lives there. I stayed and she stayed too, postponing the completion of her nursing degree.
An older woman friend in Chicago was horrified by my decision. I told her that I thought love was a rarer thing than schooling. I had always been successful in school, but this was the first time I was successful in love. She had to agree that the feminist party line couldn't hold a candle to that.
I never regretted that decision though sometimes I wonder what might have happened. I probably would have wound up teaching Spanish and Brazilian literature at a small college somewhere, . Even though I didn't live happily ever after with Paul, I did live happily ever after, so what is there to regret?
Green Valley School was a residential program for troubled kids and a sixties-style commune for its staff. I arrived at Green Valley School in Orange City Florida in February 1971. Around May, Lee Ricketts and I drove 10 kids north to the Catskills to start our own little farm adjacent to GVS' Buck Brook Farm. I left the Green Valley family, with my future husband, in August of 1972.
*Actually, I remember our renting a Chevy Econoline for the trip back but I can remember how we got to Chicago. Did we fly?