As I searched my shelves for a book to take to bed with me on Monday evening, hoping to take my mind off of you for a short while, my eyes were drawn, for the first time in a long while, to Moby Dick; the first book you chose 2 years ago for us to read at our recently founded Rebel Book Club (aptly named after we all naughtily stole each other from someone else’s book club).
As new friends, we were all too polite to tell you that this literary epic was at least 800 pages long and near on impossible to get through in a fortnight, so we all gave it our best shot (just the half-glass-full kinda group we were)!
When we met to discuss it on May 11th 2015, 2 years ago almost to the day, Sarah and I said, defeatedly, we’d only managed to read to Chapter 12! What a chore of a book this was for us mere mortals. You couldn’t believe it…you’d only gone and finished it in an easy 2 weeks leaving us to eat the dust left behind from your astounding reading speed!
In your humble excitement, you took your copy out of your bag to show us the cover, and proudly presented us with your 250 page abridged version…
How we laughed, heart-fully, and it became a running, monthly, joke; that time you chose Moby Dick. Month after month someone mentioned that time and it was just as funny as the first time, and every time you would look at the table, shake your head, and laugh “I didn’t know it was so big!”
When this photo was taken back in February ’17, we all subconsciously felt that our bookclub was nearing an end. We couldn’t say why, and so I took this photo just incase it really was; some lasting evidence of us all together.
Everywhere the book club went, from The Portland in Kingsland to Mezze in the CBD, two years worth of different bars and restaurants in and around Auckland, will be a joyous memory of you, Jeremy. Many will only dream of finding a place to surround themselves with fascinating like minded creative, curious, lovers of literature, and we had found it in our group. Your vivid imagination, non-judgmental attitude, and simply wonderful sense of humour brought something special to our group, and, of course, you were the only male perspective we had – no matter how hard we tried to find another man to side with you!
You introduced us to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, too, and you and I were so enthused by it’s literal literary magic that for a while after we could talk of not
hing more. Over 7am coffee in Scarecrow we lit up with excitement at the revolutionary contents of this masterpiece. I later found The Little Book of Hygge, a book on Danish Happiness with concepts of space and light entwined, and I knew this would be a book for you. So, you were going to buy a copy and meet me in the next few weeks to talk about it over another 7am coffee. I wonder if you ever bought that book?
When you never came, after another one of our loose arrangements, I thought you were undoubtedly just busy on one of your adventures that were spurred on by your infectious vivacity for living, and I knew that as always our paths would cross at the right time as they always did.
But this time you weren’t busy, Jeremy, you were gone.
It’s Thursday now, and I’ve sat here in Scarecrow double-taking every 30 something’s silhouette, and for a few moments I think it’s you, but I quickly remind myself that you’re gone and even then, for a split second, it feels like there is a chance you might walk in soon, smile, order coffee, sit down, and we’ll talk about the books you’ve been reading, are hoping to read, and all the articles, podcasts and essays we’ve read or listened to recently, and then with your contagious curiosity you’d go away and find out more on all the things that took your fancy.
Even then, after imagining that every morning over and over and over again, I have to take a few more moments to tell myself that it will never be you walking through those doors, or capturing so perfectly the world’s architecture (being the most talented photographer that you were), having dinner with your family, finally settling down with the love of your life who you found, and how it hurts.
The day I found out, I found out she was watching sunsets on your boat without you, revisiting every place that made you happy together, remembering you drinking coffee, checking emails, the simplest of things we take for granted. She’s keeping the spirit and love for you alive, though, in those powerful photos she captured of you laughing, kissing, cuddling, simply being together. I can’t wait to meet her, it really looks like you found a soul mate in her.
You were such a unique friend, and an enormous ball of kindness, full of subtle enthusiasm and wonder, which made this world a very colourful place to be. I’m not sure I ever looked at you and didn’t see a smile on your face, thinking about it. When you spoke, something transformative and insightful would just roll off of your tongue, a whole new world of perspective for us to hear; and how I regret not hanging off of your every word now.
To make up for missing your memorial, I hope you somehow, somewhere, know how much of a friend you were, and I will endeavour to carry the great memories I have of you in every novel we ever read, and every novel I know you wanted to read.