I met Amir on my first day at Stanford. It was lunchtime during orientation to our doctoral program in education. My first impression of Amir, I am embarrassed to say, was so stupidly knee-jerk. We were talking politics, and Amir asked my impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Amir told me he was “middle of the road” polticially…pretty much on par with the rest of America. I thought “who is this guy?” I pretty much dismissed him. Since then, Amir has taught me much.
There is not one conversation I had with Amir that could be described as mundane. Amir’s inquisitiveness sometimes rubbed me the wrong way, particularly when he would ask questions like: “Aurora, you’re gay, how do you feel about religion” or “Are gay people attracted to themselves?” and he always caught me off-guard…these were happy hour, end of the week type questions. What I loved about Amir, is that he had the courage (audacity?) to ask the questions and did so in such a good-natured, friendly way that all I could do was give a little sigh, turn to him, and answer honestly. He made me reflect and give a little more of myself than I think to give. And to me, that was a very profound gift.
I am haunted by the long conversation Amir and I had about what kind of car he should buy. He was so excited about the Honda Element, and wanted to know a woman’s opinion… would it attract the girls? I told him I would prefer the Subaru wagon he was considering, but that he should go with what makes him happy. He couldn’t wait to get on the road with his new car. I wish he had dropped his work and joined the cohort trip to Tahoe… I wish…
Amir and I talked about relationships. I had just ended one, and he had a lot of good wisdom for me about endings. Amir got drunk on margaritas at my house and sang Les Miserables duets with Colin and told funny stories. He said nice things about me. I thought a lot about him after that.. about how first impressions are not always correct, about how complex people are, about why I hold back. Jon and I ran into Amir while hiking the dish. He had been running, and Jon and I were both impressed. They talked about climbing the wall sometime. I smiled at Amir. He said “have a good spring break if I don’t see you before then.” It was two weeks before spring break, and I hoped I would see him before then, but I didn’t.
Amir didn’t hold back with people, at least not with those of us in the SUSE cohort who knew him. I learned a lot from him in the few months I knew him. I think I can honestly say that Amir was one of the most unusual people I have ever met. My faith does not help me understand what happens to souls when they move on, but something in me believes very strongly that Amir’s soul is doing some profound work for our world, and my hope is that his friends and family feel his love and amazing presence even now.
Amir, you were so clearly a gift to everyone who had the privilege of talking to you even once… thank you for your time here. I hope you like where you are now. I will miss you.