I entered the University of Toronto in 1970, at the age of seventeen. St. Michael’s College. One of the first people I met was Jan Longhurst, then at Victoria College, also from Ottawa, and also seventeen, as I recall.
She was a brilliant writer of notes and letters, as I soon found out. She was also someone with a dreamlike quality about her.
Some people talked about countercultural attractions, while others were on the edges, with decidedly permanent mainstream roots. I was in the latter group. Law school, 1973, instead of hitchhiking across the country a year earlier with my then girlfriend, in search of…something that ended up seeming like nothing.
Others went there and stayed there.
After first year university, Jan disappeared. Someone told me she went to California. She had a unique first name, at least to me: Janferie. When I found a link to a Janferie Stone, it turned out that it was her. She was still in California, had earned a doctorate in Native American Studies and was doing research on the history of communal movements in that state, among other matters. She is also a dojo teacher. Very much blending past and present.
We all have unique experiences and talents that often don’t get translated into maximum benefit for ourselves and others. Janferie Stone, or Jan Longhurst to me, appears to be an admirable exception.
Forty years seems like yesterday. A rush of time so easily wasted, or so carefully used. Most trying to move to the latter.
Postscript, April 22, 2011: My recollection is that Jan’s family was originally from South Africa. Perhaps the name Janferie was popularized there. The fact remains that I have never met a person, before or since, with this distinctively attractive first name.
Postscript, November 13. 2011: I became aware, through the internet, that Jan was involved in a number of conferences, reflecting on the California communal experiences of the 1970s. In February of 2012, a paperback version of West of Eden will be published, involving a number of oral histories and other reflections of that time, and with respect to which Jan is involved as a co-editor. She is also described as a communal “sojourner” in the early 1970s. Where she went, from where she had been. Two worlds. Like a Nancy we both knew, wanting to be called Rue.