My friend Jeff Haskins died on Saturday. He was 32.
Jeff and I played in a band called The Jones together for about a year in DC. The last time I played with him was sometime in late 2007 at my friend Mat’s studio in Baltimore. I think that may have also been the last time I saw him in person. He moved to Nairobi, Kenya around that time. And I moved to…New Jersey.
I took the above photo during a photo-shoot we were doing for the band on January 6th, 2006.
Even though we didn’t hang out at all over the last five years, Jeff was an ongoing part of my life through social media. He was a sporadic Facebook user, but he did take a lot of photos and he was good about posting them to Flickr, so I would get emails in my inbox whenever “haskinsjeff” had new photos. The last one I got was on June 30th. The photos were part of an album called “Naivasha Weekend.”
I admired Jeff because he seemed to me to do life passionately. That made him fun to be around, and even though I knew him for a short time, I have lots of great memories. The things he loved, he loved unconditionally and strongly. My favorite conversations with Jeff were about music. We shared a fondness for Wilco, The Black Keys, and Fiona Apple, among others. I liked listening to him talk about music, or anything he loved. I liked hearing the excitement in his voice. I liked when he got loud. I liked when he laughed. And the times I remember, he was often excited. He was often loud. He was often laughing.
I also admired the way Jeff didn’t have bad things to say about people. He didn’t dwell on negative stuff. I didn’t ever hear him judging people. As with any group of young people who try to make music together, there were often tensions in our band. But Jeff was a good ameliorator. He knew how to smooth things over. What I liked about being friends with Jeff was that he seemed happy when you were happy. He was happy because you were happy. When he traveled he bought gifts for his friends. He bought me a scarf which I still wear.
I am sad about this. I am sad for his wife Meredith, who he loved. I am sad for her and his closest friends, who must be devestated. I am sad because he was so young. I’m sad because wherever he is, I imagine him sitting right like he is in this photo. Smiling and happy, even though he didn’t get more time with the people and things he loved.