My memories of my last few months in high school are among my most cherished largely because of Amir. More than any particular episode, I remember certain feelings. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of Amir’s car as he was driving to Englewood and feeling like I was one of the luckiest people alive because Amir had let me into his world. And what a unique world this was. In this world, literary allusions shaped daily experience, social status served as a source of comic relief (as he wrote below a picture of two of our classmates in my yearbook: “Look, a tier 1 person talking to a tier 2 person, and they say these shots are candid!”), and everything, from the profound to the absurd, was questioned and discussed. I also remember admiring Amir—for his gift with language, for the intimacy of his friendships (were there best friends, other than Amir and Jon, so close that they wrote passages in each others journals?), for his clarity of vision, for his originality, and for his honesty.
During college, I remember looking forward to the refreshing insightfulness of Amir’s letters. I was forever in awe of Amir’s ability to simultaneously provoke laugher and thought. I also remember being struck by the breadth of Amir’s intellectual curiously: he somehow managed to straddle both the world of science and the world of the humanities; and he challenged me to do the same, always giving me grief for not applying my mind to some greater discipline, like math, physics, or computer science. Most of all, I remember trusting Amir, feeling like he was someone in whom I could confide.
In more recent years, other than a few lucky chance encounters, Amir and I had somehow, and to my great regret, fallen out of touch. Just recently, in early March, I came across Amir’s profile on Friendster. I remember feeling incredibly happy to have found him, even if only in cyberspace, and having immediately tried to add him as a friend. I then remember the tremendous happiness, weirdly out of proportion to the occasion, that I felt, when, within moments, Amir approved my request for friendship. I was hoping it would be a renewal.
For a period in 1997, Amir signed his emails with this quote from Alyosha’s “Speech by the Stone” in the Brothers’ Karamazov: “I want you to understand, then, that there is nothing nobler, stronger, healthier or more helpful in life than a good remembrance . . . You often hear people speak about upbringing and education, but I feel that a beautiful, holy memory from early childhood can be the most important single thing in our development. And if a person succeeds, in the course of time, in collecting many such memories, he will be saved for the rest of his life.”
And so Amir, I thank you. I thank you for saving me with these memories, with these memories of feeling. There are truly no substitutes.