Jamer reminded me of my friend Peter who also passed away at a young age. Even though they were polar opposites physically (Peter was a giant and Jamer was a shrimp) they were both bigger then life personalities.
Both were men about town. Everyone knew them or knew of them. They both smoked like chimneys. Both were captivating story tellers. Both laughed easily and would draw you in with their smiles. Both men were attentive listeners who would cock their ear and listened earnestly when you spoke.
Everyone Peter came into contact with felt like they were best buds with him and judging from the outpouring of love and affection on Jamers facebook page … I would say that Jamer had the same gift.
I used to help run the indoor skatepark at Esquimalt Rec center in the early 90’s. I think I was about 19 or 20? So what did that make Jamer? 14-15? At that time the gap between 20 years old and 15 was huge. I felt like I was an adult and he was just a “kid”. I mean – I was paying rent in a drafty rental house on Bay Street with my long-time boyfriend. I had a credit card and was working a full time job. I felt like a proper grown-up.
One day we ended up together in the bathroom of the rec center together. Why? I can’t recall. I think I was shooting photos of him for a zine? Who knows … but what I do remember is our conversation.
“Dude, you’re such a bro!”
I was like “Huh? What do you mean?”
“You know Dude. You’re such a BRO! I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s not like you’re a dude. I mean – you let your boyfriend skateboard whenever he wants. You don’t give him any grief. That makes you such a BRO, dude!”
Sometimes we wouldn’t see each other for years and sometimes I’d bump Jamer every day but no matter how much time passed in between – he’d always greet me with a giant smile and a hug.
My last conversation with him was a couple three weeks before he died. I was walking down Pandora (near China Town) and saw Jamer across the street. It had been a few months since I had last seen him and I had heard that he had lost his job and had been struggling with his addiction again. I could see in his face that he wasn’t well.
“It looks like you have a giant marshmallow there!” he said grinning and pointing to my very full shopping bag.
“I actually have vegan marshmallows in here.”
“WHAT!!” Jamer looked into my bag in disbelief.
We laughed at the absurdity of our conversation and I gave Jamer a hug and said “See you later.”
As I walked away I thought about how unwell Jamer looked and I kicked myself for not asking him if he was ok. I guess I thought I’d get another chance …