When I was 16 I moved from my band Blue Mist in the county to my new band in the city. My buddies, Dominic and Benet, had a townhouse in Laclede Town West and we could use their basement as a rehearsal space.
At our first meeting I walked in from the patio door to see Dom sitting on the couch with his arm around the most beautiful blond girl I’d ever seen. Her name was Lora and she was the little sister of our lead guitarist John Steffen.
John went on to become the youngest priest of a religious order in
Lora used to hang out at rehearsals. I ran through a couple of girlfriends before I even thought of asking her do anything with me. By then we actually felt more like buddies.
This was probably around 1975. Back then
We’d go back to my Soulard apartment and rave wildly as the stereo blasted. I couldn’t believe I found a girl who loved King Crimson’s “Lark’s Tongues in Aspic” and Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” as much as I did. Lora later confessed what she really loved was my enthusiasm.
Dominic turned us onto gin and Squirt. One night around three in the morning Lora and I spread a picnic blanket on a green at the
When I moved back to the West End Lora taught our group how to make batiks. We made films together. My band was in full swing but there was always enough time for another project. Somehow our relationship kept changing from intimate to casual. We were always on the same wavelength about that.
My buddy Bill Schmidt started hanging out with us. One night they left my apartment together. Stopping together in the doorway, they turned and asked, “This is okay isn’t it?” “Absolutely,” I said.
My buddy Tracy always had a crush on her too.
Years later we drifted back into each other’s lives. She followed me around the country when I was skydiving. Our friendship was stronger than ever. The casual nature of our relationship was different than anything I’ve ever experienced. There were intimate moments I wish I could tell because they were interesting and fun. Maybe they’ll find their way into a work of fiction someday. One day Lora asked, “Why don’t we just do it?” “Why don’t we just get married?” That thought evaporated almost as soon as it appeared.
I took our relationship for granted. I met Kim at the drop zone. When I ran into Lora again I had to tell her. Before I could even get it out she looked into my eyes and said’ “Oh no, you’ve met someone!”
Lora came to the wedding.
Last year my friend Marge threw a party at her farm in the country. Man we’ve all gotten old! Lora was there. A group of us were hanging around talking about our favorite drinks.
I said mine was strawberry wine. Lora looked at me and said, “Me too.”
Portrait of Lora by Matt O’Shea. Serenading Lora and her broken leg with my uke at the