February 28, 2015

Silliness

As children, Yael and Amir and I had our share of fun times and adventures, memorable family trips and lazy summer weekends in our backyard. Being so close in age, we had similar shared experiences within the span of only a few years, along with shared tastes in music and many friends in common. Like most siblings, we also had the occasional disagreement or throwdown (three of us sharing one bathroom, particularly as teenagers, led to some epic shouting matches and disgruntled compromises). But, for the most part, I recall us getting along as though we were close friends in addition to being siblings.

May 1996
Once we became adults, our relationships deepened in wonderful new ways. Along with turning to each other for guidance and advice and exploring new avenues together, we constantly cracked each other up with our steadily maturing humor and sarcasm. We bitched and laughed with each other about our parents. We were equally entertained by the cultural differences, malapropisms and various foreign accents of our parents, grandparents and other family members constantly floating around us. We ditched family gatherings early to go to the movies together or for a post-event cocktail or dessert--just the three of us. We took a memorable road trip from L.A. to San Francisco, during which we laughed off the rain that pelted my little Nissan and forced us to change our route, turning a 6-hour drive into a 12-hour adventure along muddy, deserted backroads. That's a story for another time.

This photo was taken at my grandparents' L.A. apartment after a particularly lively dinner when we were in our 20s. By this time, Amir had already moved to northern CA and it was the last year Yael and I would both live in L.A. I remember the three of us banding together at one end of the dining room table. Wine was flowing. Amir was cracking us up, as usual. Someone (maybe Dad?) captured this silly moment in a photo that embodies so well the dynamic between the three of us as adults--probably making fun of our elders but, more than anything, competing for the ultimate prize: making each other laugh.

February 11, 2015

A Bright Light - by Jude Feldman

From Amir's high-school friend, Jude Feldman:

I remember Amir as a bright light; a cynical genius who also maintained a charming and quiet faith that everything would ultimately work out satisfactorily. He was one of the finest road trip companions ever, and we wrote endlessly entertaining (and frankly terrible) free-form, Beat-style "poems" together on the road. We would hike for hours, with friends, in the splendid silence of the redwoods. He introduced me to the work of authors and musicians I never would have found, and his good taste informs my library still. He was brilliant--one of the smartest people I knew--and tremendously funny and self-effacing.

Amir had an incredible, dry sense of humor, and recalling some of the absolutely straight-faced, hilarious things he said still makes me laugh all these years later. He was a master of perfectly flat delivery, while his eyes sparkled with barely-suppressed mirth.

I sincerely hope that remembering the gifts Amir brought into peoples' lives will help comfort you in this most profoundly difficult time.

February 7, 2015

The Luckiest Hand I Ever Drew

What I read at Amir's funeral on December 2:

At my wedding, 2009
New York Times writer Frank Bruni dedicated his memoir to his siblings, calling them "the luckiest hand I ever drew." I couldn't agree more, when it comes to the hand I was dealt. Lucky me--I hit the jackpot twice in the sibling department.

Amir and I were kindred spirits and shared a particular closeness neither of us had with anyone else. He was both my patient and my counselor, seeking guidance and providing it. He often sought my wisdom and was always responsive when I asked for his. He was my sounding board for all measure of ideas and plans. I was proud that he looked up to me and Yael and I hope he knew we looked up to him as well.

From a young age, Amir and I shared the same passion for music and often quizzed each other or made bets based on our mutual encyclopedic knowledge of the most trivial of music trivia. I'd say we were about even in our accumulation of useless knowledge, but when Amir lost a bet, no matter how humiliating the defeat, he always accepted it with grace. And he always paid up.

Amir and I shared a singular and sometimes twisted sense of humor, a love of history and wordplay and a deep-seated yet good-natured sarcastic streak. Amir could rouse my sense of humor and make me laugh in a way that no one else could. He knew precisely what I'd find funny because he found it hilarious himself. In many ways, we live​d in our own little bubble of inside jokes, making an art of cynicism and mockery with an underlying kindness.

Through his smart and insightful approach to just about every subject, Amir even managed to occasionally spark my interest in sports. We exchanged frequent texts about hearing random or obscure songs in supermarkets or stumbling upon favorite childhood movies on late-night cable TV. We shared regular emails outlining the finer points of particular books or new movies and we enjoyed long conversations about politics, history and current events.

Amir was one of the most well-read people I've ever known--he devoured books at an impressive rate. I must take partial credit for this, recalling those special early years when he'd asked me to read to him regularly. I cherish the memory of riding in the car with Amir and him asking Yael and I, "What does that sign say?" and "What about that sign?" Teaching Amir to read street signs made long car trips fun and entertaining long before DVD players and iPads.

Climbing with Dad in Chatsworth Park, 1981

It's nearly impossible to imagine a world without Amir in it. It will certainly be less bright for everyone who knew and loved him. I will feel his absence every day for the rest of my life. But though we gather today to say goodbye, Amir will always be with us.