Bell bottoms are making a comeback. I’m not sure if this is making me feel old or young again? I save everything so for me it’s not about buying a new pair of bells, but about reaching into the darkest recesses of my closet and pulling out the dozen pair of bells I still own. With delight I carefully unfold each pair realizing that I don’t need to spend any money to be in style… the hippie look has always been in style for me.
As I try on my bells I flash back (no pun intended) to my youthful carefree days as a young hippie. Oh the beads, the fringe and the bells! Of course this was met with so much resistance from our parents; just as the earlier phase of the Beatles, miniskirts and Go Go boots.
My first pair of bell bottom pants was bought at the Navy Exchange which was the only place to get bell bottoms. I bought a pair of sailor denim bells, took them home and altered them to fit my feminine frame. Soon after that Head Shops began to pop up with all the beads, fringe and bell bottoms a girl could want. (Anyone remember head shops? They sold more than bells!) At last I found my hippie niche! Woodstock here I come! Bells, beads, sandals and more I danced in the mud, hugged perfect strangers and never regretted that weekend at Woodstock.
However, before long bell bottoms went main stream and that ended the hippie era. Or may-be it was just time to grow up and get responsible?
Now once again the bells are coming back to main stream and I must admit I love it. When I wear my bells I feel young again. I feel a sense of rebellion, curiosity, peace and love. And with all this new found sense of youth I realize that old hippies never die. They just go dormant for a while. In the eighties we all disguised ourselves as mainstream because it was easier to conform than keep pushing to the edge. Responsibility for children, mortgages and retirement planning gave precedence over love and peace. Maturity teaches you that life is not the idealistic fantasy of the young, but a long process of learning to conform, compromise, negotiate and get involved rather than drop out.
So I raised a family, paid my taxes, voted and lived as a law abiding citizen. But now the bells are coming out and I feel that anti-establishment, free loving, and rebellious young hippie emerging from the back of my closet. But she has aged. Her hair has flecks of grey and her body is wrinkling and crinkling into a senior citizen. She’s not about to go and sit in a pile of mud dancing and screaming to the beat of the Who. But she will always love rock and roll, incense and brownies.
I look at myself in the mirror all dressed out in my bells and I can’t believe how fast the years have passed. Here I am a Grandmother with a wild history of free love, anti-war rebellion and well you know all that “stuff” we hippies did…
Never throw away your bell bottoms. They’re a symbol of youth. As long as you have them they will remind you that deep inside of you there still is that young hippie with all the idealistic notions of a better world through peace and love. And you know what? With all the experience and all the wisdom I’ve gained over the last several decades I still believe that the world would be a better place if the hippies in bell bottoms ran the world. Peace would reign, love would be everywhere, we would eat healthy and we would be more concerned with the betterment of humanity than accumulating a bunch of stuff that only gets thrown away when you die. The more you own, what you own, owns you!
Idealism, they say, is reserved for the young. This unrealistic pursuit of ideal standards fueled by emotions and hormones is vested in naiveté. Equality is what we all want. But equality is an elusive creature. It’s easy to be rebellious and idealistic when you have nothing to lose. However, when your parents threaten to cut off your support line conformity most always rules.
Unfortunately materialism always usurps ideology. Money, politics and greed are mightily powerful force against a band of hippie. Conformity brought with it the era of the yuppies and the frantic rush to get rich. Brief cases, suspenders and wingtips replaced backpacks, beads and sandals. Then the yuppie era went bust and we all wondered what the hell went wrong. It’s just a recession and recessions happen over and over again. We learned a valuable lesson; things go up and things go down. We learned to ride out the roller coaster ride of the capitalistic market until one day without warning the bell bottoms came back.
This sliding back of time causes one to pause and reflect. Wisdom teaches you that life without music, love and peace is not really worth living. So don’t throw away your bell bottoms. They symbolize a sense of youthful freedom and that sense of youthful freedom will always keep you young at heart.