During my final season playing with the Cypress SQ I lived with my mom in my childhood home in Danville, anywhere from 35 minutes to 2 hours from downtown San Francisco depending on the ever-worsening traffic. For many years up until that last season I had been living with my wife and kids in a small house in San Francisco's Outer Parkside district, but when we began the long process of moving to Canada - my family moved first, while I stayed in California to wrap up my work with the Quartet - we rented out our house to some friends who were being bought of their apartment lease and needed somewhere affordable to stay in the city. So my family moved to Canada and I moved in with my mom. Usually I would drive in to rehearsal or whatever else was going on, but sometimes I'd take the bus from my mom's place up the valley to the nearest BART station and then take the train across to SF.
On one of my first Bus-to-BART commutes I met Justin, and thanks to his awkward but outgoing personality we struck up a conversation on the bus ride to Walnut Creek. Before we parted ways that first time I offered him a Cypress "15th Anniversary Album" CD I happened to have with me, as a gift. He couldn't have been more delighted to hold it in his hands, turning it over and over, his smile wide as could be.
Later in the year following a number of other encounters with him, I wrote this about the experience:
"I don't ride the bus very often, but it seems whenever I do, Justin is on it when I board. At first I thought I'd just say "Hi" and then read the news on my cell phone, but he always wants to chat. One day he told me his mom had been sick and described a bit about it. It reminded me of how kids talk together at school.
Today he was there, and I hadn't been for a couple of months. I settled into a seat across the aisle from him and we began to talk, just checking in. I told him about being tired after a late night out. He told me about a Secret Santa event at work. I told him about visiting Europe on our recent tour. He asked if I'd had any good dinners. I told him yes, and lots of bread and cheese.
Then he dug around in his backpack and pulled out a very tattered, faded CD - the one I had given him months ago. After turning it over in his hands several times he pried it open (the cardboard cover was sticking, he must have spilled something on it earlier) and began to read the liner notes out loud. It was like a child's safety blanket, or a Seattle teenager's coveted autographed Nirvana CD they've listened to a thousand times... He was having trouble pronouncing some of the words, and he would either point to the ones he couldn't read or I would correct him on others as he went... This picture is of Justin reading the liner notes on the bus this morning.
We went through the notes and then he asked where "viol" comes from - "why is it called a viola, or a violin?" It was a good question - I could explain the instruments were part of the same "viol" family but I couldn't explain exactly what the word meant or where it came from. So I looked it up on my phone, so we could both learn - and realized it had been so nice to talk to him for the duration of the bus ride instead of reading the news or checking Facebook on a screen.
We parted ways at BART just as the first time we'd met. I expect I'll see him again soon."