Jamie and I knew each other without knowing each other. It was in that way you know there are countries out there, rich, warm and fascinating places that you’ve never been lucky enough to visit. Jamie was another country to me… a place louder, brighter, faster, darker and bolder than I had the courage to be. He was somewhere off my usual tourist map, I wasn’t sure we’d understand each other’s language. But we did.
I can’t remember how it started, chats over making the first cuppa of the day at evolving. Crude jokes, teasing that gave way into meaningful questions about which book I was reading, or a poet I rated. Questions that became discussions on Wilfred Owen or the prequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. He knew about things I loved, really knew about them. And he was original in his opinions and penetrating in his insight. This seemingly wild country was also a place of deep reflection, a well not just of knowledge but of wisdom about the human condition.
He complimented me when I offered some snippet of information on an author I’d stumbled upon somewhere, then floored me with an assessment of that author’s work, illustrating that if I dipped my toe into books, he swam in them. He knew the currents, the pull of the tide. His conversation was a powerful wave crashing over you.
I left evolving. We didn’t really keep in touch for a number of years. Until we did. From time to time we ‘talked literature’ as he called it. When I experienced my own loss he expressed heartfelt sadness on my behalf which was deeply touching. He was there. I can’t claim I understood the inner workings of his country but he seemed to get mine.
I’ve never known a mind like his, and feel the loss acutely that I never will again. I was and always will be in awe of it, grateful for the tip of the iceberg I got to see and so sorry for the ways it was hard for him.
Thank you Jamie for the ‘John Lennon love’, I hope for you it does stretch across the universe ‘like a million eyes calling us on’. Your friend always in ‘brightness and literature’, Natalie x