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Turning 50

PART II ~ Be Cool

It’s not lost on me that I am the same age as my dearest friend was when she passed away five years ago.

As I said before, all of my friends were older. But my favorite friendship was with Kari. She was the coolest!

I met Kari in my early 30s. I was wild, sure. It was what you did when you were sassy, single, and new to town. But she was wilder, cooler, more established as a Goddess among mediocrity than I. And I adored her. Kari was the kind of energy that made you believe in magic. She exuded cool.

No matter where we were, what we were doing - or even when she was leaving the hospital late in her illness - she was perfection. She was always dressed in what I’d call Hippie Chic. She would be in funky platforms, shaded by a big-brimmed and barely shaped chapeau, complete with a fabulous scarf. Her hair was long, thick, and always perfect. She was fucking fabulous!

Austin was a small, music-centered town for a long time. Lots of street musicians found their way to fame. Kari came of age during this time and she had the the opportunity to know the right people and eventually ran with some connected coolness of old Austin fame. Everyone knew everyone that knew someone. I only got to meet a few people, but she always seemed to be in the know. Our friend Pam nicknamed her One Call Kari. She could make one call and we were all on the guest list at the sold out *enter any artist here* show!

It looked to me as if - in most situations - she got everything she wanted. She was a calming presence and could make you feel at ease and special. Soon you were under her spell and she was convincing you that what you wanted was what she wanted. She once told a lady at the door of the old Austin City Limits that she could have more than one guest to see Matthew McConaughey. And the lady just stared blindly and smiled and said, “Oh. Okay. Go right on in.” I’ve quipped many times since then that she had the power of The Force, essentially telling the woman “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

One of our favorite things to do together was to see live music. We went to every Austin, TX favorite. We saw Austin legends. We went to music festivals and moved through the crowds with ease. She always knew the best back stage bathrooms and where to find the shortest lines. She was so much fun.

But at 49, she declined to the point of no return. Perhaps before that. But she was prepared. She had forgiven all of her transgressors; worked to say all the things she needed to say; released her worldly burdens and emotional anchors. It was impressive.

In especially tense situations, Kari used to always say, “Be cool.” One day, towards the end of her journey, she made my wife and I watch the scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson says “We're gonna be like three little Fonzies”. She could barely hold the phone up while it played, but she wanted to get the message across… no matter what shit goes down… no matter who fucks with you… be cool.

We celebrated her 50th birthday. She was so excited, so beautiful - even strong for that one day. One week later, she was gone.

I was 45 when she died, healing from my own internal wars and forgiving myself of my own failures. Fifty was still another world away for me. I had so much to accomplish. I had one year and some change of floundering before the pandemic hit. My life came to a screeching halt. I got more education in wellness. I started painting. I started writing. We moved to NM. And suddenly, my 50th birthday.

Where does the time go.

I want my friend to live on. I will continue to channel her kind spirit, and her take no shit attitude. And of course ~ be cool.

I miss you, Friend.

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