My Best Friend

Friday, May 06 2005 @ 12:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Contributed by: dpgreenbaum

Amir was a source of strength, inspiration and unwavering friendship for me. I have always looked up to Amir. When I first met him, in college, I admired Amir’s brilliant mind. Amir effortlessly absorbed culture, science, philosophy, and assimilated them into his own compassionate, and quirky life-perspective.

Amir was cerebral, but I always felt he was happiest when he was able to translate his ideas into positive action. To me, the best example of this was Amir’s love for bicycling.

- On a philosophical level, Amir believed that bicycles were a much cleaner form of transportation than cars. Amir felt that more people should bike rather than drive, in order to preserve the environment.

- Amir also loved the visceral experience of biking down the Hudson river bikeway, past gardens and the boat basin to his work every morning – even when it rained or snowed. When I asked him if this wasn’t uncomfortable, he said emphatically “No, its no different than skiing – you just have to dress for the occasion.”

- Perhaps above all, Amir loved to maintain his bicycle. He was intimately familiar with every gear, shaft and spoke of his bicycle. He bought a truing stand to perform routine maintenance for the bike in our apartment. And Amir’s facility with assembling and disassembling the bike and the joy he derived from this represented his drive to understand everything he learned and believed inside and out.

It was a privilege to be a student with Amir at Brown – to have such an independent and original friend to share the experience with. After college, and when Amir moved back to NYC, we had conversations that stretched for miles on the hiking trail, at night on the stoop of his and John’s apartment in New York and on the slope of the dustbowl after an afternoon of Frisbee.

Living with Amir meant having access to a constant stream of his unvarnished opinions on nuclear proliferation, the Simpsons, video games, the degradation of popular culture, and radical environmentalism. For example, I remember his wry smile when he said “I’d like to found a plebiscite political party.” This was typical of Amir’s statements – half serious and half provocative.

Amir drew great strength from his family, and in turn was a pillar of strength for them. He had the strongest, sense of ethics of anyone I have ever known. He told me that as a teenager he returned to a store where he had pocketed a candy bar years ago to repay them. Amir’s honesty was particularly apparent when it came to matters of business. I remember several conversations where he fretted that his Ultimate Frisbee league was turning a profit. This would make many people happy, but Amir vehemently refused to personally benefit and sought my advice on the best way to return the profits.

Amir’s disciplined and scrupulous behavior was such a strong testament to the character of his parents and his upbringing. Amir loved his brother, sister and parents. And he knew that they loved him as well. I was touched every time he would make the bike ride back to Englewood to spend Shabbos when his father was sick.

Amir’s strength of character, personality and generosity made him the natural leader of our group of friends. Amir, talented as he was, was generous with his time, intellect, money and friendship. Amir loved to give. He volunteered to walk shelter dogs, As a mentor he prepared intricate scientific experiments for his “little brother” including sampling central park pond water under a microscope, building an engine and assembling a model aircraft. His generosity extended to his childhood friends, those he met later in life, as well as to complete strangers.

People are lucky to have one best friend in life – Amir was mine. He was also the best friend of so many of us in this room, which is extraordinary. He was the epitome of a devoted son and a loving brother. I take some solace in the knowledge that Amir will continue to influence the world as we hold onto memories of his generosity, courage, convictions and his commitment to positive action.

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In Memory of Amir Lopatin
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