April 30, 2016

Gentle and Jaded

I recently heard from Amir's friend Amanda, who met him when he was in his late 20s:
Amir would leave me funny, pithy notes at work, made me amazing CDs of his favorite songs that I thought I should know and love. He gave me an amazing love letter in his neat and distinctive handwriting, at turns funny and heartfelt, with references to Madonna, Heart and Cheap Trick songs.
In 2013, we met up for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant Amir chose. He looked great, healthy, and he seemed happy (in his way). Even though I hadn't seen him in years, the conversation came as easily as if we had never not been close. He listened as I told him about my fucked up life. He had this way of listening and responding that was simultaneously gentle and jaded. He made me feel like he really heard me, he understood, he could relate, he cared.
We walked around the neighborhood and talked about music and his job at the athletic club, about our cats, our families, his girlfriend. We ate gelato and smoked a cigarette. He walked me back to my car, gave me a hug, and we said, "Let's do this again soon." That was the last time I saw Amir.
I miss know that I could always send him a text asking him the name of that one Chicago song, or what he thought about the recent Super Bowl halftime performance, or what did Meatloaf mean when he said he wouldn't do "that," or did he see this awesome article from The Onion? Even when our friendship went dormant for years, I liked knowing that he was out there in the world somewhere.
I hate that this is no longer true, that we are now living in a world with no Amir. It feels unbelievably wrong.
Thanks, Amanda. I wholeheartedly agree.

April 23, 2016

All Good Things, They Say, Never Last

Am I the weaker man
Because I understand
That love must be the master plan?
Prince - "Diamonds and Pearls"

I have adored Prince since the first time I heard "I Wanna Be Your Lover" on the radio when I was 8 or 9. We flew back and forth between New York and L.A. several times when I was a kid and my favorite part of flying was the little analog radio dial in the arm-rest. They played mostly current pop and rock hits, which I'd listen to for hours while staring out the window at the Earth below. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" was on one of those loops and, to this day, I associate that song with flying cross-country as a kid.

I once drove to the original Penny Lane Records in Venice Beach to buy a rare, expensive vinyl copy of Prince's "Black Album." In the audience at his "Lovesexy" tour in 1988, I marveled at how his energy never waned during a nearly 3-hour set. And Yael and I had a blast dancing together at his "Jam of the Year" tour at the Hollywood Bowl in the mid-'90s.

Amir enjoyed and appreciated Prince and we had many a discussion about his genius. He even indulged me in watching Under the Cherry Moon (a crap movie but its soundtrack remains my favorite Prince album). Still, I don't connect or associate Prince with Amir as much as I did David Bowie, though I know Amir would be saddened by his death as we all are.

The song "Sometimes it Snows in April" holds incredibly deep meaning for me, going back to when I was about 15. It's an intensely personal song about friendship and loss that has touched me since the first time I heard it, prompting tears on almost every listen. In 1986, my friends and I would sit on the floor in my bedroom, with lights out, eyes closed, listening to that song and not speaking the whole time it was on. Sounds sappy, but the song evoked that kind of reverence, even in a bunch of teenagers.

Even before Amir died, I often skipped it when shuffling through my music because it evoked too much emotion. But since Amir's death, I have associated the song with him. Amir was born in April. It will always be his month. Hence, I have not listened to that song since Amir died. I simply cannot do it. Yael and I have talked about it and (whaddaya know?) she feels the same.

Understandably, the song has been played a ton since Prince died. Starting Thursday afternoon, my local public radio station, WFUV, played Prince songs back to back through the evening. Naturally, "Sometimes it Snows in April" featured in the line-up. As soon as I heard the opening chords, I had to yank out my earbuds. Who wants to start crying at their desk at work?

Prince's music touched my heart and soul on so many levels. He made me dance, he told vivid tales of characters and places, he made me want to fall in love, he taught me that sex was beautiful and fun and vital, he made me think about my own spirituality and sexuality. His songs were the backdrop for so many moments and realizations in my life.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to listen to "Sometimes it Snows in April" without the emotion welling up inside me uncontrollably. Amir was born in April. Prince died in April. It's too much.

April 7, 2016

Another Birthday

40 years ago today, Yael and I got the wonderful gift of a baby brother. And our little worlds changed forever and for the better.

Our beautiful Amir would have, SHOULD have, turned 40 today. The mere thought of him not reaching 40 makes my heart physically hurt. It aches. He should be here, we should be celebrating with him, he should be following Yael and I into a new decade, with all of its ups and downs. He should have reached middle age. Hell, he should have lived to be an old man, still pondering the meaning of everything, reading every book in sight, making us laugh and offering sarcastic, witty pearls of wisdom only Amir could have offered.

Summer 2005
I remain utterly heartbroken that he's not here, that we've been deprived of his gentle presence in this world. I'm angry that he was cheated out of so many years. I miss him so much that I want to scream to the heavens to reverse history and bring him back. I revisit history in my mind every day and night, thinking about his 38 years on Earth, what they meant to everyone who loved him and how important that time was to me--the time I had a brother who was also a playmate, a sounding board, an encyclopedia, a books-and-music recommender and, most importantly, a trusted friend and confidant and amateur psychoanalyst.

Today, I am pondering and longing for Amir at 40--who he might have been, where he'd have been in his life and who he'd have been working toward becoming. I will do my best to celebrate and honor him today, as I do in smaller ways each day. I encourage all of you to celebrate him in your own way today.

Amir, I wish I could tell you how much we love you and miss you, today and every day.

April 4, 2016

Reflecting on Photos

I have several childhood photos of Amir on display around my apartment. They bring me comfort and make me smile in spite of missing him and wanting so badly to go back in time. I especially enjoy studying childhood photos of Amir, Yael and I together--smiling, laughing, playing, teasing each other and growing older and taller alongside one another.

Yet, as much as I can handle looking at childhood photos, I often find it difficult to look at more recent photos of Amir. I visualize his death looming and it hurts to not see in his eyes what we could not have known was coming. The same is true for Jason. Photos from the last few years of their lives are particularly hard for me to look at.

Someone (sorry, I don't recall who!) recently sent me this photo of Amir and Jason in 1988 or '89, when they were about 13 and 14.

Dueling mullets, 1988 or '89
Such innocence and optimism in those boyish faces! Here were two incredibly bright, sensitive kids, so curious about the world and just starting to experience their lives beyond the cradle of childhood. Both Lakers and Dodgers fans. Both itching to learn and explore, sharing interests in girls, musical theater, sci-fi, sports, music, performing and making people laugh. And, of course, the carefully-tended '80s mullets they were so clearly proud of.

I still cannot fully grasp the reality that they are gone. Some days, I find it hard to believe the sun continues to rise each day and the world continues to turn without these two beautiful souls, so deeply loved by so many. My own world has been thrown so far off course by their deaths that I struggle every day to find the right direction in which to move forward without them.