David Lumley: The most time I spent with Jos was when he was still Jeremy, a Junior in high school. I was housesitting for 2 weeks with him while his parents were traveling. Normally I anticipate what others are thinking or saying way in advance, but with Jos it was shocking and humbling how quick he was, having a conversation with him was a high-speed challenge just to keep up with and absorb what he was thinking. The word "breathless" comes to mind. It was a fun and exhilarating challenge to talk with him.
We went grocery shopping, and he was like a kid in a candy shop. He insisted we go to "Whole Foods" since I hadn't been there yet. He liked that they had organic food and were environmentally friendly. He wanted to buy things like "dutch crunch" bread (I think it was called), which he expounded was the best bread around, and that we must buy some and make sandwiches for dinner with it as soon as we got home. He would say things in the store like "Have you ever tried...", and if I said No, he'd say "Well then let me introduce you to..." and we'd buy some. He was having a field day. I've never seen anyone so enthusiastic about something as mundane as grocery shopping. He saw all the fascinating color and detail in everyday things that we normally take for granted.
We got home and unpacked the groceries. I remember he was disappointed when he found I had selected single-ply toilet paper instead of his usual two-ply, and then suggested Canadians must be really tough! What could I say? It was hilarious.
He was into a lot of the same music as me, except he knew some newer bands that were pretty edgy. I had my guitar over and played him some of the wild stuff, which would then prompt him to bring out another new band to show me how wild they were. And so I would try to up that. And so on. It was a fun evening.
One time he told me that his father drove him to school every morning, and he was somewhat sheepish about it. So I teased him a bit. Then he explained that since his father worked such long hours all the time, it was one of the few moments they had together every day and that he really valued that time to talk with his father on the way to school. I thought that was really neat, and I have often thought about that with regard to my own daughters now, the balance of work and family and how important it is to children to spend some time regularly with their fathers.
He carefully budgeted the grocery money to make sure we had enough to go to a Thai restaurant one night. He knew the proprietress by name as if an old family friend, and said his family had all been there many times together. In this respect he was like a teenage version of a grandfather, going around saying Hi to everyone, knowing them all by name and on very familiar terms. A very different attitude.
Much later, I remember he had some crazy job and he was trying to find a buyer for a large ship. He was telling me about all his phone calls all over the world to find a buyer. He was 16 years old. He'd called many third world countries and managed to speak to some very high-up brass in the local military and government. but they invariably wanted something else thrown in to the deal, so he'd have to call other countries to look for that. The deal was getting to be increasingly complex chain, but he seemed to love the thrill of the chase to put it all together.
The last I saw of him must have been the January before he passed away. He was demo'ing webtv for me and was totally excited about it. He remembered my wife and daughters and asked about each of them, not in a conversational way, but as if he really cared and wanted to know how they were doing. I was surprised he even remembered them since it had been many years and even then he hadn't seen them very often. Pretty special.
Maybe I shouldn't say this last part, but it's part of my experience with him. He really was the perfect example of a shooting star to me. I felt this immediately and intensely when I met him. He had so much energy and life and creativity and curiosity and intelligence. He was maxed out about everything all the time. I worried about him a bit, but I didn't imagine he would be gone so soon. He seemed to live his life almost as if he was in constant freefall. It was hard to expect something that burned so bright could last a full normal lifetime. I think in a strange way he knew that, and perhaps that is why he did so much, and was so curious and energetic, and friendly with people, all in such a short time frame.