Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Still Crazy After All These Years

some of you may have noticed that we get occasional comments from "jsk." maybe even noticed that in comments on my post about tree planting jsk described seeing the camp i was talking about. and then RD posted about a visitor. well. JSK, whom i have known since 1968, is our visitor.

we met in kitzbuhel, austria. i and my first wife had quit our jobs and gone traveling. we wanted to ski so we rented a studio apartment there. the language of austria is, of course, german, of which we knew just enough to be to be polite tourists. for the first week we had no conversations, outside our own, beyond bitte, danke, zwei bier, drei wurst. (please, thank you, two biers, three sausages) one day in the post office the fellow ahead of us in line turned around said "hey, you two from california?" we were from berkeley. he was from bakersfield. we got along anyway. he offered us a ride back to our place and as we pulled off in his vw bug he pulled out a pipe and a baggie of weed and lit up, passed it over to me and leaned out the window to offer a smiling "gross gott" (a polite greeting in public, literally "god is great") to the policeman directing traffic. our new pal introduced us to the small circle of ski bums in this high end resort town. one of them was his girlfriend, jsk.

we fell right into the group. mostly americans, or united statesians. there were also scots george and the two frenchmen, and someone was canadian. we skied together a lot. on non-ski days we gathered at somebody or others' studio apartment to hang out, smoke dope and snack. we once tried to make tortillas with cornmeal. doesn't work, the right stuff, as we learned subsequently, is masa harina. as it was winter and cold we all wore long underwear of some sort. the apartments were always toasty warm so the norm was to walk in and shed down to long undies for lounging. somewhere in the deep of winter we got word from the bigger world about tie-dyeing. so we all did our long thermals or unitards or whatever. we were a colorful lot. at least in our undies.

to go skiing we would take a tram up to the ski area, ski around up there where there are lifts, and take the tram back down to town. there are ways to ski down. one way is one of the world class downhill runs, the hahnenkahm. we did that once. lots of sideslipping and falling. another time we followed jsk, who knew the whole mountain, having been here many times with her family, down the "backside" through pastures. we crossed fences. we went through tree lines. we were in powder snow 10 feet deep. in the middle of one huge, sloped pasture we were ten hippie ski bums schussing through virgin snow and the leader raised his arms and yelled "close your eyes!"............. and we did! well, for seconds at least at a time. it was fun. we did have a mile walk back to town at the bottom.

so jsk and i have been friends since then, supporting each other through marriage, divorce, love, despair, and happiness. though she lives far away now, in times past we lived nearby and sometimes in the same house through pregnancies (hers and my wife's) and births (daughters, a week apart) and the early years of our children. we have shared the high of skiing and the mundane of diapers. we have shared wacky adventures. she is second mother to all my daughters. she and RD are pals. her hubby and i were, til he died of ms several years ago. i recommend to all of you the value of a friend of the opposite sex. or gender, whatever. a cosmic sibling. love, support, and friendship, without romance. an ally in life.

that's me on the right with the green hat. RD took these pictures when we all went walking in the fog.

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