March is a hard month. It’s a weird month, weather-wise. We change the clocks, we welcome the season of spring. I have long thought of March in terms of death—several people I know died in March. Also, some good friends were born in March. March seems to be about opposites: it swings us back and forth from life to death; from a blanket of snow to the first flowers popping through the earth.
Smack dab in the middle of March (or so) is the anniversary of something important that profoundly influenced me and gave me the centering point around which my entire life revolves: twenty-seven years ago, on March 13, Kris-jon Klopstock chose to live a sober life. I wasn’t there then so I’m not at liberty to describe the circumstances of his life when he decided to live a whole new way, drug and alcohol-free, but I am one of the many beneficiaries of his decision and so on this day we raise a glass of ginger beer to this wise man.
I met Kj when I was twelve years old. We went through elementary school then junior high and then part of high school together before he left Saratoga High for boarding school. Over the past forty-two years we have come and gone from each other’s lives, checking in, catching up, moving on, looking back, dating, not dating. It doesn’t even matter what we call it anymore; our lives and families are inextricably interwoven. We have depth of history, friends in common from when we were kids and a shared love of the town where we grew up. We know where all the secret alleyways are; we get the draw of the smelly mineral water bubbling up out of the ground there. We remember the original Mrs. London’s, Mabou, Image, the original Adelphi Hotel and we have a wealth of terrific stories about our high school years.
Eight years ago I was in the depths of a truly shitty phase of my life and it was while I was in a remote place in Alaska, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Kj came to me in a dream and then he returned to me in real life and then he helped me get sober. He came into my life exactly when I needed him and he offered to me precisely what I needed, which was to clean up my act, and that began with my choosing sobriety. I had tried to do it on my own; I had tried to do it by going to AA meetings, nothing was working. It was Kj’s love, compassion and empathy, his story, that gave me the courage and strength to turn away from booze and toward life.
Today I offer to the heavens a prayer of gratitude for one man’s decision to stop drinking, to live clear and clean, that led to this woman’s decision to stop drinking that I hope might inspire someone else toward a similar path one day. This is how it works, we hope.
I have always said and I stand by my words: I have yet to see alcohol improve anyone’s life. No one gets funnier or smarter or nicer when they’ve been drinking. My grandfather died when he was 27 years old from alcoholism. I have a hundred stories of how booze has screwed with people’s lives, made a fucking mess of things, ruined relationships, burdened children and caused loss of life, work, love, bodily parts, hope, dignity and on and on and on.
I don’t want this to be a soapbox moment about how much I hate booze and its insidious effects in our lives. I came here to pay tribute to Kris-jon Klopstock, a proud, present and adored grandfather now, for his bravery, for his strength and for his compassion. Because I have reaped the rewards of his awesome choices and so have my kids. Everyone who means anything to me has benefited from my sobriety which I would not have if it weren’t for Kj’s sobriety and I would imagine he can trace the lineage back further, too, but that’s his story to tell.
Thank you, KjK; 27 YEARS is a THING. ❤️