The last time that I saw John would have been in September or October of 2015—I can't quite remember which month it was, but I do remember parts of our meeting. I had come to visit in London and met him at Symposium Cafe on Richmond Street. It was just cold enough that our server seemed surprised that we wanted to sit outside. John was intense—he'd missed me. I'd missed him too. I think he ordered an iced coffee. It was golden hour. He had recently made it clear through a text message that he wanted me to visit more often. I don't remember all of what we spoke about on that day at Symposium. Self-administered tattoos, at one point. A book that he was writing, at another. He told me that he wanted me to read the first chapter. I agreed, but never got the opportunity to.
When it was time to go, he took out cash from the outdoor ATM at Richmond and Central. He didn't want me to take the bus home alone, despite my having lived in downtown Toronto the entire school year previous. He insisted on a taxi. I think he must have hailed one for me. All I remember after that is looking out the back window of the cab at him as we drove away. He was standing in front of the Starbucks, striking up conversation with someone beside him who was huddled up against its front wall. They laughed together.
Not two months later, John's funeral was held within that same city block, at Saint Paul's Cathedral.
I gave up on drawing and painting faces years ago. I used to draw portraits for my family and grew to not care too much for it—it's just not an artform that I tend to feel a connection with. Stitching a face feels odd. I've got maybe 5 colours on the go right now and am nervously awaiting the moment at which I'll recognize him. I guess this whole project is a way to allow myself to recognize him.