mostly about sally
When I began this reminiscence, ’twas early/oily Novembrrr 2009 and I’d been considering. Considering … projects — many — either undone, not yet started, barely started, in progress, virtual — and I reflect back to an uplifting thought I had many years ago. 1993? or so … while immersed and barely treading water (so to speak) endeavoring to “get a bunch of stuff done,” I realized: I WOULD NEVER GET IT ALL DONE. A big weight was lifted, and I’ve been going half-throttle ever since.
and … I should meditate and reflect upon sally.
I met sally in in the autumn of 1967 and knew her pretty continuously until I last saw her in mid-September. Why don’t I know her anymore? she departed the world and reality as most of us know it on Oct. 16.
John called that night. Predictably, and appropriately, the call was short. He asked me to call a couple people who were pertinent threads to our combined dance this life upon the planet. I also called Betty, who was in Wyoming with Rooch ‘n Ben at Ben’s brother’s wedding. She was joking-but-serious that I should NOT have told her that news, as it “ruined her weekend.” But I had to tell her right away, and we all know that.
I called Laurel, who, surprisingly, picked up her phone, and we talked a while. I next called my sister (both Laurel and sister were at John’s request) and left a message. I think. She called back later and felt real bad but she and hubby had been planning for some time to go to San Carlos, Mexico. Now — going to San Carlos is akin to visiting our parents at the cemetery. I had better explain: their ashes were deposited by all four of their children 5 years ago at about this time in the Sea of Cortez just off San Carlos.
I left a message with John ‘Huz’ Russell and also called Roy H Johnson. He picked up, and we talked a while. I also emailed Barb, sister of Kevin (asking her to inform K), and Gary Adney.
Barb later emailed back saying that she told Kevin. Gary and I have been e-corresponding since. I feel/felt embarrassed, but I forgot to inform “the other” John & Sally ’til about three weeks later. Yeah, Betty and I met another couple who also became good friends. “The other” John & Sally were British but in the U.S. (and in our town, Grand Junction) working. About ten years ago, they moved back to England. Sally emailed back right away, reminding me that since time is short we had better visit them in England while we could.
Things have changed slightly since 1967. College registration back then meant signing-up for classes in person in a large-enough space to accommodate many people. Lots of waiting in lines for popular and/or required courses. Sally and I were next to each other in a line for some mercifully-forgotten required class and struck up a conversation. Had this been, say, 7 or so years later, something called “pre-registration” (which did NOT entail any waiting in lines) was the way to do this, and we would not have met in this fashion. I don’t know the exact (or even approximate) procedures and sequences (I can guess), but we became part of the other’s social circle at Western State College.
I cannot exactly recall the mechanism by which Sally and I re-encountered. I think I must have recognized her (after not seeing each other since departing WSC in May, 1968) while walking past her apartment in Boulder in the fall of 1969. Ah, the mental fog caused by inadequate nutrition and a bit too much of not-exactly-healthy ‘supplements.’ John had just switched colleges from CSU to CU. And I was not a student then.
Until recently I used to think that we (re)-met while waiting in a line to register for a course at C U (Boulder). Ha! –> THAT was/is one of “those memory quirks” which i thought was true, but it isn’t.
Still, the re-encountering must rate several points on the coincidence scale of 10 — but (!) there would have been other scales ‘in play.’ The scale of continued cosmic significance? The scale of larger-and-expanded societal web and interweaving? The scale-less continuum of the all-inclusive integrated ultimately singular mass karmic conclusiveness? and maybe there just ain’t no such thang as coincidence. but the entropy sometimes does make one wonder, n’est-ce-pas?
I found out she lived in an apartment with three others about two blocks from where I lived with three or so others (including John). It wasn’t long before ‘my gang’ would frequently mingle with her gang — usually at their place as (1) it was larger and (2) much less of a mess than ours. And I’m sure it was much more likely that we’d get fed at their place rather than the other way around.
In short, she met John (among others) and it wasn’t long before she and John became ‘an item.’ They were married in early summer, 1970.
At the post-funeral-service gathering, there was a table of photos and scrapbooks and such. It was WEIRD to see the wedding photos. Of course I looked like such a hippie-wanna-be dork, but John looked like a young defiant Ben Affleck, with more and better hair. Sally’s high school gymnastics pictures presented her as … such … a babe. Dick Olson looked surly. Aspects of his inner tormented artist’s psyche were obvious to me. And I did not immediately recognize the young beard-less Roy A Johnson. A picture of Laurel holding little baby Melissa. Cliff Athey was at the wedding! And I was mentally over-amped when I saw a picture Roy A took of ‘the collective’ sitting on the stairs in front of a house we shared up from The Hill. I had an afro, curled bare toes, holding a cat, Navajo chief hat, silly smug look on my face. Dick lurked over all of us, the only one standing. Shawn Perry and Barb, so young and ‘fresh’-looking (Barb holding a cat). Emily Athey (sister of Cliff) seated just down from me (we were, uh, sorta seeing each other then) and a friend of Emily’s seated amongst us. And in front, to the left (from the photographer’s view) were John and Sally. The anchors of the bunch — not merely by virtue of being married — but that did entail a commitment to something more permanent, dependable, serious, than any of the others of us could have managed. Unlike seemingly everybody I then knew, they were much more seriously and long-termedly on their life’s path. The rest of us would have denied it at the time, but we were wandering. (Go ahead and say it: I still am.)
They were (like all of us) so YOUNG and clean-looking (well … not Dick and I). The photo was kind of like the first CS&N album cover — without the couch.
It’s been almost 40 years (39) since the wedding. Never-the-less, I was close to outright astonished over the pictures. Again: John did look like, say, James Dean. Really. Sally, not James Dean but someone Mr. Dean would date. There was Norma Burdick and I would bet that the Lowenbachs were present in some of the pix. John’s parents. Sally’s. Sally’s sisters.
And here many of us were together, 39-and-a-half years later. With kids. In general, more care to the tonsorial aspect of our appearances. And, I think, we were less constrained, a slight bit more comfortable with each other. Oh, and why were we all together? We were gathered about a common denominator.
John had arranged for everyone coming to the service to have opportunities to meet and reflect and socialize and such the night before — and afterwards. NeeAnn and I drove to his (their…) house in east Boulder before the “out-of-towner’s dinner” at a nearby Nepalese restaurant.
If I was to put a brand on the ‘vibe’ or nature of the convocation, I would tentatively suggest it could have been the between-courses-of-study lengthy refreshment break for some exotic Christian sect. Or a mainstream (not ascetic nor radical) Hindu or Buddhist seminar. Perhaps a session where we’re not to “talk shop” after the yoga convocation.
Sally’s daughter and son-in-law and their two young kids; and Damon and his semi-estranged wife. I hope they find a way back together. Many of “the kid’s” friends. John’s two cousins, both guys, with their wives and many or most or all their children. I thought we got along as if we, too, were part of the extended family. And Sally’s sisters — each a bright and unique spark of the human condition. Most of the sisters’ combined family swarm added to the tangible and homogeneous essence of the wide and fundamental shared aspects of the common denominator of the human spirit filling the house.
Oh, Sally. Obviously THE ‘common denominator’ behind and through and within all of this gathering. No, I won’t say that I knew she was there, of course she was, but she wasn’t.
People get together for weddings, for funerals, for reunions, and sometimes for no palpable reason at all. It’s the funerals which make most people reflect that it shouldn’t take ‘this’ to result in all of us meeting again. There will be more funerals, and we’ll hoist yet another toast to what was, and what it is. At gatherings such as this one, I think that a high percentage of people consider what will be. Expansion. Things are not narrowing down, more possibilities and paths are being presented.
The dance-of-life, as it were, had John and Sally’s movement on the ballroom floor interweaving and orbiting close to mine and Betty’s frequently. I don’t think there was any major or semi-major and many minor events in our lives that we did not share.
Decidedly non-Christian as I am, ne’er-the-less I was at each of their kids’ baptisms. (I am each kid’s “God-father.” A ‘Catholic’ duty I can only hope in some extra-dimensional way I am measuring up to, in whatever fashion, in more than just a miniscue extent).
I went to the wedding of Melissa and Janis (we missed Damon’s, but that event was NOT publicized adequately well in advance) — and Sally/John came to both our kids’ weddings.
And the illnesses — Betty had an especially inconvenient and drawn-out six or so months — many years ago and bears relatively little stigma(ta) from then; but Sally later had a hurdle which was never altogether cleared. One thing led to another, until mid October. Yet she was optimistic, upbeat, cheerful, as always. (If she wasn’t, she either hid it or didn’t come out from beneath the covers that or those day(s).)
Betty and I met another John and Sally, and inevitably they were introduced. Sally-from-England (and maybe John) even stayed with “the other” Sally (and John) when her business trips took her to that area.
Sally and John came to Eagle for my son’s wedding in mid-September. She attended the ceremony, and dinner afterwards and John took her back to the hotel. He returned by himself. I’m sure that it was because he didn’t get the opportunity to “get out” much, and as he knew all my family and several others in attendance, celebrated the nuptials a while longer. And — I’m glad Sally had another opportunity for a reunion with her family as she attended yet another wedding a couple weeks later.
As I think of the people I know who are no longer among us physically, we must consider the last time we saw them. I saw Sally at my son’s wedding, but it was like the group/collective vibe was so intermingled (smeared?) by then that I have no discrete singular memory of her at the ceremony. I’m glad I took the time to visit with them for an hour or so when they arrived at the official wedding motel that afternoon. Betty was at that precise moment going off with her brother and sister for lunch, otherwise she would have stayed and talked with John/Sally also. We probably mostly reflected and opined and rambled on about the inconsequentialities of the moment. I am really good at that, in case you haven’t noticed.
I think we also had breakfast together the following morning, but the clarity of my memory started to dim and spread out as the wedding festivities unfolded. I continue to feel a sense of being adrift, a disconnected spirit perhaps, in-between abodes or suitable haunts.
OF COURSE part of me is gone! It couldn’t be any other way. What we all must hope for and believe is that, correspondingly, something has been added. Together we are always a sum greater than simple addition of the individual components. And my belief that life in what we consider the physical realm (¿ the real whirled ?) is by no means a monopoly on what really is.
larry plume adds:
Thank you for reminding me how special Sally was!
I would only add one comment: From the time I first met Sally (she and John were already living together, and at the time in a motel I believe west of downtown Boulder near the creek) I was struck by the depth of their partnership. Even then I thought that JohnandSally was one word, and over the years it has only become moreso.
gary adney continues (rambles on, actually):
thanks. when we returned to colorado after hawaii … year about 75.
I had resolved that if I were to contact any of the old gang cept huz, who had come over to hawaii for an extended stay; I would only do it by chance. i.e. they would have to find me.
lo and behold, babs and i went to a boulder street festival one afternoon. before that, i had dropped into freds back kitchen to see if anyone remembered me. clyde might have been there or an asian guy who vaguely remembered.
no problem, though. on another occasion, eric meyer was in a place we went to
eat and we did a u turn to avoid him.
also i saw someone else linda and i knew, but he didnt know who i was … and didnt count anyhow.
So i digress… Lo and behold Sally about runs into us at the crafts or whatever fair… and her eyes bugged out and she said “Gary???”
we went to their porch and sat around one afternoon while filling them in up to date etc. Roy a was there … unchanged it seemed lol.
One evening they or maybe bloo (rosco) was there too … all drove over to invade our lafayette apt. but we werent home … i always felt bad about that.
huzz would drop in now and then to our various places during the next few years, as did bloo and wife towards the end of our colo stay.
odd how even at the distance and the changes back then … there was still a connection to them, even for me.
They helped me during that tumultous winter of 71 by helping get me into grindees basement below their rental house on university … i think it was.
bloo knows that nightmare … farleys boots and me totaly going paranoid with a failed attempt at recapturing a first love (funny how that is now … hahahah, talk about random)
Dick Olson with that guitar drinking homemade apple wine … hah upstairs while i enjoyed the hongkong flu and plans of suicide … but i digress.
it all worked out; this friendship and deja mc vooz.
thanks bloo for sharing.
A note on what Gary reminisced:
Though it seems like he takes a shotgun to whatever target — I think it’s appropriate to append here, as that’s how things were. Dances within dances. Wandering thru’ the street fairs. Spur-of-the-moment decisions (which were the norm) to go this way and not that. Sally calling out to Gary and re-connecting. We didn’t need to plan most stuff long in advance nor assign a committee to the group’s wonks and winkings. Strange, he mentioned E Meyer and U-turning — but Norm Meyer (bro’ of E) manifested out of the æther after the service — then began circulating, a lot of which was going on.
Memories of a whole life…….
It’s what keeps us company , nowadays , doesn’t it?
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You know, lots of times when I’m commenting on your articles, I like to copy/paste a phrase that really struck me, but it’s hard to pick out anything out of this one. Not that none of it struck me, but more that it all did, despite not knowing Sally or any of the other people and only knowing you through WordPress.
I don’t want to say what I think about any of it because it’s a personal reminiscence and it’s not my place, but it’s affecting because you can do what most writers can’t and find what’s universal about an experience and then articulate it. You can see what things MEAN. You understand the human condition, and maybe reality too, to the extent that it’s possible. It’s what separates great writers from good ones, and maybe great people from good ones as well. Glad you happened across my blog.
Oh hell, let me pick some stuff out. I liked what you said about coincidences; I think a lot about those too. So many are so specific and meaningful, as you well know. And I liked “bright and unique spark of the human condition.”
And this: “OF COURSE part of me is gone! It couldn’t be any other way. What we all must hope for and believe is that, correspondingly, something has been added. Together we are always a sum greater than simple addition of the individual components. And my belief that life in what we consider the physical realm (¿ the real whirled ?) is by no means a monopoly on what really is.” It’s always true. You write a blog post, you destroy a blank space on the screen. No new or gone, just change.
It’s been a few years, but I’m sorry for your loss anyhow. Sally was lucky to have known you.
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i just now lafft at yer phrase “you destroy a blank space on the screen.” gotta be one of the bestest compliments, for me, ever.
(you should-a been at the jam at the Fruita (Colorawdough, Cavalcade) club tonite. you would-a been up there, really)
1. no, i was lucky to have known her. and she met her life-partner ’cause o’ me.
2. HECK, MAN! if i had this (your) comment early on, it’d be part of the essay! (it was originally posted elsewhere and it elicited the two comments, part of the post.)
3. my next post i’ll try to scare whoever wanders the remote haulways of WP as i think i’ll say: see bleu N thiss lite for a better descript of psychotropix.
4. thanx, man. i seen yer pixure when i googled (i axually use “dogpile”) and i think yood be a good front man (with yer banjo?) for my banned … (i dogpiled mitchTheSinging …)
5. i’m temporarily bumd. got a neg review on my (last nite) semi-public performance. i allegedly hogged the stage. HOPE TO DO THAT this coming weekend when i do the annual “Jose, Puede Ver”. heh …
awesome post…u are an amazing writer dear
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kavita: i’m sorta cheating … the posts which are better than my average are those i wrote awhile back. and i took time. thought about it. massaged. edited. re-edited. (not like my usual superficial spur-of-the-moment posts)
thank you, DEAR !
hehehhe..I think I know what you mean as I usually never shared other people’s posts and tried to write all originals but I guess I am doing this as well at times sharing which is alright but then other times writing even when I know not much will come out as either I am too tired or busy…I know exactly what u mean dear..but u are so creative that everything u put there is good :)
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