Paul M.: The thought just struck me, somewhere along the way, of where I'd been a year ago at this time [Halloween] wandering the street with Jos, dressed to the nines, among this huge throng of people. I don't think I'd seen that many people in that small a place at one time in my life.
I think I've told you, but he really did stand out among even the weirdest of the weird, a 6 foot 4 man dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The only reason I got any attention at all was because I was standing next to him. Every group of out-of-towners who came by wanted their pictures taken with him (sometimes us, but mostly just him).
This reminds me of another funny story: I have the picture of me and Jos in costume posted on my cubical wall, and just before I left for the UK, my mom was down in Seattle for the day, and she came by my office and we had lunch. She saw that picture and I told her about the events surrounding it. So we had lunch, and she went off shopping or something and I went back to work. She met me at my apartment after work to drop some things off, and in that time had managed to work up the nerve to ask the following question: "So, Paul...um...I noticed that you said you and Jos went into the Castro District for Halloween. So, uh...are you and Jos gay?"
Now, you don't know my mother at all, but you have to imagine that in the intervening time, she had worked it all out: "Ahah! That's why he broke up with Donna and came back from New York City. Because he realized he was gay! That's why he's 26 and still not married." But I had to dash her hopes and her attempts to be a sensitive new-age mom by telling her that no, both Jos and I were both staunchly heterosexual. I suppose that it's not as funny if you don't know my mom. But I just have to compare that (my mom's assumption that visiting Castro District = Gay) to watching you make alterations to the dress your son was wearing as non-chalantly as if you were making him a sandwich for lunch.
[added June 14, 2005] Jos was clearer, more articulate, smarter, funnier, and more real than anybody I ever knew. He had that thing that you want, that you want to be around all the time. He was that person whom you wanted desperately to like you, and then he did, and you couldn't believe your luck.
Jos and I met in college, where a long, slow conversation about life started. We carried it on via the U.S.P.S., and then later electronic mail. Every couple of months or so I'd write something long and involved and then a couple of months later he'd write something back, and I'd go about my daily life and sift it over and then the next time it came into my head, I'd write him back.
There was the part of the conversation where Jos realized the value of faith in something you couldn't experimentally verify (yet). It didn't matter whether you believed there were aliens in spaceships on their way to bring us peace and love, or that the unified universe is made up of tiny pieces of vibrating string of unmeasurable length, or that there was a girl out there that was your one true soul-mate. The important thing was to believe it, because that was what was getting you where you were going, and that was making the universe go around. I never really stopped to think about it in an analytical way, but I think that idea got absorbed right into my core tenets and it forms the basis of what I'm doing with my life now. I miss that conversation we were having. But then, I guess I'm still here, having it.