I'm definitely one of those believers that people who remain connected to each other do so for reasons that span beyond our lifetimes. I wouldn't say that Bill and I were intensely connected or ritually connected, but enough so that bumping into him was always special.
Bill (as we all knew) was a unique human being. He radiated the stuff that makes us glad we're alive. I can never fully describe it...and I know better writers could get closer to it, but you know what I mean. He was the kind of person I looked forward to seeing at work at Wired, because regardless how stressed he might of been or if he was rushing by, he was always smiling, funny and so kind. This was a big plus for me in those heady days of Wired, because by the time Bill joined the magazine, there were a lot of very talented by totally egomaniacal types. He wasn't one of them!
One of my most memorable encounters with Bill was bumping into him at a war protest in downtown LA in February 2003. I moved to LA 6 months earlier, and well, everything in my life really sucked. It was my birthday, and earlier that day I got in a phone argument with my mom about why I chose to spend my birthday at a war protest that she didn't really understand let alone agree with. Not feeling particularly happy, I saw Bill on a corner and he turned, saw me, and immediately his face lit up. It's like someone hired Bill to track me down and cheer me up. We hugged, caught up on things the way you do between hundreds of people bustling around and Martin Sheen on loudspeaker. The day got better.
The last time I bumped into Bill was at the Latin American Club about a month before his death. I had moved back to SF a couple years ago and missed the Wired reunion parties, so hadn't seen Bill since LA. Paul Donald and Amy Johns were also there. "Hello beautiful!" was Bill's reaction to seeing me, and I think I said something of the same back. Rarely do I hear that anymore! I loved him for just being a classic, charming and totally in the present guy.
Like a lot of others, I am deeply saddened that he died so young and so suddenly. I also feel that hell, if you're gonna go, do what you enjoy. All my future runs are with Bill.