Amy Powers: The first time I met him, Jos, then Jeremy, came to visit his brother Andrew in Boulder in Spring of 1992. Andrew had been pushed from his rental house in Nederland when the house sold and was consequently living -- on and off -- in my dorm room on campus. There were two single beds in my room so while Jos visited he stayed in one while Andrew and I shared the other. I can't remember other details of that visit, except that it was a girls dorm so Andrew and Jos, two 6 foot-plus men were hard to smuggle in and out -- and bathroom visits had to wait until late at night.
The next time I spent time with Jos was in Spring of 1993, a year later, when he, Jon, and Diane came down to Costa Rica from California and Andrew came up from Ecuador. I was studying in the countryside and they came out to see our research station -- then we spent a few nights in the city. Funny thing is that now as I recall, we were again in the same sleeping arrangement during that trip -- single beds in a hotel room with Jos in one and Andrew and me in the other. He was quieter in those days than I came to know him over the next several years -- but he still brought lightness, humor, and creativity into the conversation. I have a vague recollection of him making a funny video in an outdoor restaurant after we finished a day of white water rafting. Those memories of Costa Rica are so fuzzy, so many huge gaps in what I can even begin to wrap my brain around.
The next encounter with Jos came not too long after, in Ecuador that summer of 1993. (Jos diary in Ecuador.) I was living with Andrew up at the Finca and during the last few weeks of my stay there Jos came to live in Macara. He lived in town, with a family who had a son with heavy metal black velvet posters all over -- what was that kid's name? V - something -Victor? And what did Jos call himself in Spanish? In English he was still Jeremy. I seem to recall a funny name... was it Jeronimo?
I suppose the next encounter with Jos was in an equally exotic locale -- Hawaii for Yasuko and Martin's wedding. Right around this time he had taken a semester off from school and was living up in Homer, Alaska working on a fishing boat, for the Green Party, and for a Country and Western Magazine. My chronology is entirely gone but I'm fairly certain all three of these were his sources of livelihood at one time or another. I was amused to learn that his pseudonym for magazine work was, appropriately enough, J. "Hoss" Claerbout. I took to calling him Hoss with relish. It was around that time period when I remember hearing many amusing updates on what career path was currently tickling the ever adventureous Jos's fancy:
I often described to friends this brother of Andrew's who had more zest for life than anyone I knew and a refreshing inhibition about sharing his hairbrained schemes, real or fantasized, with the world. I'll admit that when he finally nestled into a desk job in the computer world I was entirely surprised, though when he excelled, impressed, wooed and brought inspiration to his work at WebTV was no surprise at all.
But, Hawaii -- Martin and Yasuko's wedding and the days of travel and leisure before and after, Jos was warm and accepting -- he made me feel at ease and welcome, as welcome in this family structure. He and Andrew bantered, made us all laugh over dinners and on car trips where I would sit wedged between two long-legged Claerbouts in the back of a rental car. His ready flow of words, stories and quips made me feel less pressure to grapple with which of my own words I wanted to say.
I suppose a few years passed then -- I don't recall Jos visiting us in Aspen -- until last September when he came out to Vermont for our wedding celebration. Andrew and I had been a bit anxious about the Grand Meeting of the parents, an event we'd planned for the night before the wedding. An Indian feast was to be eaten around our giant dining table and all of our immediate family members, except Martin, were to get to know each other. We hoped conversation would be stimulating but pleasant and that our parents would discover enough commonality to enjoy the evening; we hoped they'd become friends, at best, and at least approve of our impending union. What ensued was the best possible scenario -- an evening of comic relief M.C.'d by the youngest of our crew, Jos. My mother still remarks that she cannot recall a time when she has laughed harder. Jos not only broke the ice, but he chipped it into slivers, melted it down, and warmed it into a comforting cup of tea over which to share an evening. And of course there was his poetic touch contributed to the beautiful photo chronology that Diane created of Andrew's and my "parallel lives." My understanding is that each of his 20 or so limericks were not only unsolicited; each was concocted in a matter of minutes. A genius with words that boy.
Since then I saw Jos once, in California this past spring. He again performed his magic of livening up conversation creating a whole new mood and volume level in the house. He introduced me and Andrew to the world of Parappa the Rappa -- and video games in general for that matter. Over dinner at a Chinese restaurant on I believe the night before Andrew and I left for home, Jos's talk of Tuesday night Buffy the Vampire Slayer viewing rituals with Diane had me doubled over. He affected a gossipy, chatty, Cathy demeanor and ranted about how he and Diane managed to swap dirt on the show's themes, even when they were watching on sets across town. We visited his office at WebTV which I had been eager to see since it managed to bring the world of the internet into my home for the first time.
I'm so glad that Andrew had the chance this summer to visit the cottage and spend quality time with his brother. The first thing he shared of the visit upon returning home was how good it was to have time alone with Jos to re-connect and get to know his little brother again. As for myself, I will miss being taken in his long strong arms looking way up at his lofty stature and hearing, "Hello there, Big Sister".