So Just finished reading North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Persons, I enjoyed it did find some solace ( as I usually do) in the fact that her childhood was more insane and mixed up then mine was.
She writes quite eloquently about growing up in Northern Canada and living in tipi for much of her young life. She speaks of commune style living and having parents who struggle with addictions issues as if that is just the way we all grew up and yet we managed to not repeat those patterns for our kids and instead worked hard to create something we never had.
Much like Cea I grew up in very non traditional world. I did not have parents who lived in a tipi but I did have friends who had lived in one and whose parents often took us to the nearby nude beach were they smoked pot and drank all day and then put us all back in the car and drove us home. Sometimes we got to sit on the hood of the car until they got to the main road which we thought was the best thing ever. It as the 80's and it was a small town and no one really thought there was anything wrong with it but they were high, drunk and probably still naked which may of caused some issues if we were ever stopped.
My parents were more traditional then some of their friends, we had a nice house, they both had jobs ( most of the time) there was almost always food. Unlike some of their friends we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted and until I was 12 I though Kool-Aid was juice. We were often left on our own and more then once I disappeared with my friends or alone and my siblings freaked out because they had lost me. I was always found and more then once I was missing because I wanted to go buy candy.
My parents would have huge parties when I was little and my sister tells stories about their ridiculous antics and leaving us with people who had no business looking after 3 young kids. I don't have a lot of memories of those events because they were 29 when they had me and by the time I was 7 we had moved to a city and they left most of their hippie friends behind but we did go back a visit a lot when I was kid. Living in the city opened had other adventures like getting trapped on the rocks of the beach when the tide came in and having to swim back to shore fully clothed at about 8 years old because other wise we would of missed dinner.
The summer I turned 12 they left me in that small town I been born in for 2 weeks with friends who were about 21 and had a young son. The couple didn't really care what I did or if I was there and so I spent most days tubing down the rapids with friends and then lounging around in our bathing suits eating candy we had stolen from the corner store. By the time my parents came to get me I had literally been in my bathing suit for days and had no idea whose house my suitcase was at. They did track it down and didn't seemed at all phased by what had been doing for the last two weeks.
There were always friends of theirs living in our house or camping in our driveway. It was not unusual for there to be a whole extra family camping out in the rec room for months while they got themselves organized. There was always enough food that could be stretched to serve another person or two and it was not unusual for a friend to conveniently show up right around supper time so that they could be fed too.
I had a "uncle" who used to visit with his laundry every few weeks and have dinner with us while he waited for it to dry. There were cousins who came and went, foster kids and developmentally delayed adults who lived in our for stint. We always had a big house and there was always a spot for someone else to stay when they needed it.
Perhaps one day I will write about it in detail. It was quirky and weird and definitely not the kind of childhood one expect that I had if you meat my parents on the street because they seemed so normal.