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Gail Colleen

Castroville. My sister Gail was born fifteen years and one day before I was. I scarcely knew her when I was young; she was away in college at Centenary and then she got married to Sam and they lived in California, where he was from. Sam's folks ran a health food store in Castroville starting way back, I think in the 1930s. Very early hippies. There were two things we got from Sam's folks: alfacon and salve. Alfacon was compressed alfalfa pills; I suppose the con meant concentrated. You had to take a lot of them. They were supposed to improve everything about your health; alterative is the herbalist term. Salve was aspirin powder mixed with petroleum jelly, and it was actually pretty good for minor skin irritations.

eden ahbez was one of the earliest hippies. He wrote this song and gave it to Nat King Cole's manager in 1947. Nat made it into a hit record. eden was living under the Hollywood Sign at the time.

Forever. The fifteen year interval between our births fascinated me. I learned some math from it. One day I announced that when I turned fifteen I'd be exactly half her age. I was six at the time. After that every year we'd be closer. I'd be closer to her age than the year before. I said that without using words I didn't know, like proportionally. But I had the idea right. Birthdays became a connection between us. In Melbourne that connection got drugified. We celebrated our joint birthday with joints and endless toasts. After I left college and the Fishfarm, we drifted apart. Gail and Billy followed me to Boulder and joined a Self-Harmonizing group. They didn't stay very long. A few years after I migrated to Seattle they followed me out here but lived in Shelton. The big adventure here was our joint trip to Spain. In the late 1990s Gail and Billy were regular visitors at the house I bought with the help of my dad. Thanks Dad. That's when I saw Gail leave me, during those years. We'd have big fancy dinner with lots of wine, augmented with pot by Gail and Billy, and at some point Gail and I would go for a walk together alone to renew our old connection. I watched Gail get progressively vaguer and less present through those years. Finally, when I looked in her eyes, there was nobody there. Just a drunk stoned old woman looking at me vaguely. I held my own internal memorial service for Gail. My old friend had left me forever.