I have a hard time writing about Alex. It isn’t for lack of things to say, rather it’s a lack of words that I feel can do justice to his memory. In truth, it was hard even when he was alive to describe what I thought of him; to try to explain to someone that didn’t know him the strength of his conviction or the way he could cheer you up with a smile and a word was a wasted effort. No one could truly understand what was so special about him because there was no frame of reference – there was no one else like him. Even so, though I could never hope to capture in words what it was about Alex that made him so special, I want to try to share a little bit about why he was so important to me. Alex and I were fast friends and from the moment we met until our last goodbye I can’t think of a single moment I didn’t appreciate him being by my side. On my short and ill-fated tenure with the crew team he kept me motivated during practice when my enthusiasm waned. He encouraged me, mostly by example, to work harder and be more responsible in school and when the work was done he was ready to play as hard as anyone else. Whether it was watching Steven Seagal movies or playing Super Smash Bros., he was always there smiling and laughing. I’ll tell you this much: that is no small feat in a group whose video game grudge matches, often as not, result in insults not suitable even for the latest of late night TV. Somehow though, it wasn’t so bad when Alex was around because, as so many people have repeated in the past few months, Alex seemed to bring out the best in people. Where other suites of roommates broke up and went their separate ways ours stayed together, even growing from year to year in both size and closeness. I promise you that it wasn’t my eneffable early-morning charm that made our friendships so strong – it was Alex, his contagious love of life and his selfless devotion to the happiness of others that he so generously shared with all of us. In short, Alex taught me about life, about how to embrace it and cherish it. Though my time with Alex was regrettably short, shorter even than the little time he was alotted on this earth to share with us all, I take comfort in the fact that people aren’t measured by the length of their lives but by the difference they make in the lives of others. There are so many people that are blessed to live long lives but are never enlightened enough to know how to make the best of them, going fifty or seventy or a hundred years and leaving this world just as it was when they came into it. Alex, on the other hand, had a way about him that put him in a class far apart from such individuals. He had the rare gift to touch the lives of not an occasional few but of nearly everyone he met. He changed the lives of so many, making their personal worlds better places just for having been a part of them, as I know he did mine. With Alex gone there is a hole in my heart. Over the past few months the love and support of my family and friends has helped to make life without him more manageable, but still I can’t imagine a day will ever go by that I don’t think of him. It hurts, but I know this is a good thing because it means I will never forget the things he taught me or what he meant to me – no, means to me. In this I know I’m not alone and that is a comfort too not because I wish to commiserate but because it reminds me that his legacy will live on. All it takes is a little love, a little kindness and a little effort as we all try to live a little more like Alex Capelluto. I’ll never forget you, Alex. I love you, man. Your friend and roommate, Jeff Tierney Log in to Reply
I have a hard time writing about Alex. It isn’t for lack of things to say, rather it’s a lack of words that I feel can do justice to his memory. In truth, it was hard even when he was alive to describe what I thought of him; to try to explain to someone that didn’t know him the strength of his conviction or the way he could cheer you up with a smile and a word was a wasted effort. No one could truly understand what was so special about him because there was no frame of reference – there was no one else like him. Even so, though I could never hope to capture in words what it was about Alex that made him so special, I want to try to share a little bit about why he was so important to me.
Alex and I were fast friends and from the moment we met until our last goodbye I can’t think of a single moment I didn’t appreciate him being by my side. On my short and ill-fated tenure with the crew team he kept me motivated during practice when my enthusiasm waned. He encouraged me, mostly by example, to work harder and be more responsible in school and when the work was done he was ready to play as hard as anyone else. Whether it was watching Steven Seagal movies or playing Super Smash Bros., he was always there smiling and laughing. I’ll tell you this much: that is no small feat in a group whose video game grudge matches, often as not, result in insults not suitable even for the latest of late night TV. Somehow though, it wasn’t so bad when Alex was around because, as so many people have repeated in the past few months, Alex seemed to bring out the best in people. Where other suites of roommates broke up and went their separate ways ours stayed together, even growing from year to year in both size and closeness. I promise you that it wasn’t my eneffable early-morning charm that made our friendships so strong – it was Alex, his contagious love of life and his selfless devotion to the happiness of others that he so generously shared with all of us. In short, Alex taught me about life, about how to embrace it and cherish it.
Though my time with Alex was regrettably short, shorter even than the little time he was alotted on this earth to share with us all, I take comfort in the fact that people aren’t measured by the length of their lives but by the difference they make in the lives of others. There are so many people that are blessed to live long lives but are never enlightened enough to know how to make the best of them, going fifty or seventy or a hundred years and leaving this world just as it was when they came into it. Alex, on the other hand, had a way about him that put him in a class far apart from such individuals. He had the rare gift to touch the lives of not an occasional few but of nearly everyone he met. He changed the lives of so many, making their personal worlds better places just for having been a part of them, as I know he did mine.
With Alex gone there is a hole in my heart. Over the past few months the love and support of my family and friends has helped to make life without him more manageable, but still I can’t imagine a day will ever go by that I don’t think of him. It hurts, but I know this is a good thing because it means I will never forget the things he taught me or what he meant to me – no, means to me. In this I know I’m not alone and that is a comfort too not because I wish to commiserate but because it reminds me that his legacy will live on. All it takes is a little love, a little kindness and a little effort as we all try to live a little more like Alex Capelluto.
I’ll never forget you,
Alex. I love you, man.
Your friend and roommate, Jeff Tierney
One of my favorite things about Alex Capelluto was his laugh. It was the laugh of a giddy little kid. And I think sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by their laugh, his wasn’t mean-spirited or maniacal it was happy and incredibly infectious. Have you ever been in the presence of someone who when they smiled, could make you smile, and their laugh could make you giggle. For me, Cappy was one of those people. Whether we were arguing over something stupid like why surf ninjas is the greatest movie ever, or just sitting watching a movie in his common room (scratching his head) I always had a good time hanging out with him.
I’ve always admired him. He had strength of character that you don’t see very often, and I wish I had. His dedication to his school work, his crew team and his friends was truly something out of the ordinary. When you’re young sometimes you don’t have your life in order, I know that I don’t. But Cappy had it down, and I think that was because he realized what was most important in life: loving and being good to the people who were most important to him, and knowing that the rest would just fall into place. It’s kind of intimidating to be friends with someone who has it all together, but I never felt out of place with him.
One of my favorite memories of Alex was the Berkeley trip to six flags last fall, when he skipped crew practice and we snuck him on the bus. There’s just something about amusement parks that bring out the little kid in everyone. We had so much fun riding all of the roller coasters, and there’s this awesome picture of Liz, Dan, Haruko, and Cappy on the nitro roller coaster and Alex has this fabulous expression: his mouth is hanging open and he has this look of extreme excitement with a little fear. I love that expression. That trip to six flags still stands as one of the best days I’ve ever had. With Cappy everything was all good and I will miss him dearly.
Alex was a unique in the truest sense of the word. There is no one I have ever met who possesses his self-confidence, his zest for life, or his integrity. He was effortlessly an amazing friend, never judgmental, always happy, and most importantly he was always there for his friends in moments of doubt or weakness. He had the ability to easily distinguish between what he could and couldn’t control, dedicating all his time to one, and laughing off the other. He was relentlessly cheerful, even in the face of disappointment. Many times walking back from physics he would tell me about his goals and expectations for his next time trial or race. Often I would ask him how he did later. It didn’t matter if he had succeeded or failed, he was always optimistic, always planning for the next opportunity.
Alex may have lived one of the happiest, most fulfilled lives that I have ever seen, despite its length. Most remarkably, the happiness was truly earned. He got the most out of every minute of life, never content to be bored or to be boring. He understood the value of living in the moment, and the value of planning ahead, a rare combination. He could buckle down and work towards a goal that was months or years away, yet could at the same time know when to drop everything to enjoy the simple pleasures of a summer day. His life was filled with these seeming contradictions. He was kind to his friends when it mattered, sharp, witty, and biting when it didn’t. He was relaxed yet determined. He was always filled with happiness and yet could empathize with the suffering of people hundreds of miles away. He worked relentlessly towards his goals, yet withstood failure effortlessly.
Though I only knew Alex for two short years, I will cherish them as the most important in my life. He was a teacher, a role model, and a friend. He showed me how to make the most of the short, precious time we have on this world, and I will never forget it. For those of us he left behind, it is all we can do to try to live our lives by his example. We owe it as much to him as we do to ourselves.
Goodbye Alex. I’ll always remember the little things, your laugh, your jokes, your terrible taste in movies. But most of all I will remember what a privilege and honor it was to, however briefly, have you as a friend.
Alex was my best friend throughout middle school and high school. My memories of him in these years are similar in tone to what his Yale friends have identified: Alex was always happy and always smiling; he tried his hardest at everything and, as a consequence, never shortchanged himself or anyone else. In fact, in many ways it was for these other people that Alex tried so hard–Alex was the most selfless person that I ever knew. He is a model that everyone should aspire to emulate. Yet despite all of these qualities, if I had to identify the one characteristic that best defined Alex it would be that he was a problem-solver. It did not matter whether the question was academic, athletic, social or common sensical; when Alex was confronted with a problem or an obstacle he ALWAYS found a way to solve or overcome it.
With that in mind, rather than sharing a specific memory of Alex, I would like to address one problem relating to Alex that I am not sure anyone has been able to figure out. This problem is, quite simply: how do you describe him? Or, more aptly, how can you describe Alex? Is it possible? How many times has the reader tried to describe Alex to someone who hasn’t met him; tried to explain the void that exists in the world now that he has gone and known that the listener did not truly understand how special Alex was? I have never been able to convey to someone how amazing Alex was, and I am sure that it is the same for anyone reading this. To understand Alex you had to meet him.
Language, which is itself a conceptual construction, inherently limits what we can say, and every ounce of Alex transcends even the most descriptive, most insightful words in the English language. A catalogue of his character traits is, no matter how long, inexhaustive because Alex was so much more than words. Likewise, the use of terms like “ineffable” and “indescribable” fail in that they have become cliches. In fact, it might be cliches which are the most apt descriptions of Alex, for such expressions were likely thought up to describe people similar to (but never the same as)Alex. Unfortunately, people have overused these expressions and stripped them of their meaning. So, how do we describe Alex?
A few months ago, over dinner with Alex’ parents I expressed to them the thought that I am about to share with you, and while I do not think that it is perfect I do think that Alex the problem-solver would have appreciated the following description. Theodor Adorno, a German philosopher of the Frankfurt school, wrote extensively during the 1930s and 1940s. Early in his career he argued that the traditional Hegelian/Fichtean dialectic was inherently flawed in its assumption that it could truly understand reality. Adorno called the flawed Hegleian/Fichtean dialectic “positive dialectics.” As an alternative, Adorno proposed what he termed “negative dialectics.” While the concept is certainly a complex one, it can best be described as the realization that some things cannot be accurately described because linguistic concepts cannot adequately describe reality. For Adorno, there were some things which were immeasurable and unquantifiable. These “qualitative elements,” while intangible, were no less important to understanding the essence of a thing. I lthink that we can all agree that Alex was far beyond what any of us can describe in speech. So, to solve the problem that Alex has inadvertently posed to us, I like to imagine that Alex is the quintessence of negative dialectics. He was so special, so amazing, so perfect that we need to recognize that we will never do him justice.
Alex, I love you, and I hope that this description brings the smile to your face that we all remember you for.
I didn’t know Alex as well as many of the people here, but our short times together were always hilarious and wonderful. I knew him through FOOT and through the planning stages of HBC.
During August training, last fall, organized things the FOOT leaders had to do around Old Campus had slowed down, leading Alex and some other partners in crime a little extra time. I turned around to see him and several others running full speed and diving onto a couple plastic tarps spread out in the mud, with a hose providing a little bit of lubrication (who knows where he got it from…). However, after the 20 minutes they spend diving head first down this mud strewn, glorified saran wrap, Alex had big red welts on his chest and back. He looked down, and started laughing hysterically at them and me.
He then folded up the tarp and snuck it over to my house, storing it while he was out on his trip. He then promptly called me after returning, scooped up his SlipNSlide treasure and used it again in the Berkeley Courtyard a couple more times before the weather turned…
Although I didn’t know Alex well, the few times we spent together were ones that I will treasure.
I redshirted my freshmen year, and, as a sophomore, I rowed on the Freshmen Heavyweight Crew with Alex. I found out about the accident while I was studying abroad in Beirut. I don’t remember much of that day, except that it was paralyzingly heavy. I won’t pretend that we were particularly close, we were just bonded in the ordinary way that teamates do, but that simple headline on the YDN website struck close to home. I guess at this age you never see something like that coming. The world back at Yale, across two oceans, somehow seemed to lose its intregity for me. If someone so solid, so real and confident and vivacious could disappear just like that, what was to stop the rest of the world I left behind from crumbling? In a way, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more helpless in all of my life.
What I remember about Alex is that he was remarkably courageous, indomitable, and possessed intensity that you could almost sense as soon as he walked into a room. He was also kind. When I was forced to leave the team in the spring with a painful knee injury, he wrote me this “good luck with everything. and i look forward to seeing you killing small dogs and tearing ergs in half.” I loved the humor.
Sitting at his memorial service this year, I couldn’t help but wonder how few there really were in the world who could engender such an outpouring of love and admiration. A death is only as quiet as the lips of one’s friends. And in that sense, Alex left this world with a bang. And as I left, I couldn’t help think that I’d missed a tremendous to spend more time with him. I hope that some day, I’ll deserve to be half as loved as Alex.
This is what I said at Alex’s memorial service in September, and a month later it is no easier now than it was then to be at a Yale without Alex— we miss you Alex.
Alex Capelluto was one of the people I most deeply respected and admired at Yale from the beginning of my freshman year. I remember going to eat lunch in Branford one Friday afternoon and sitting until long after everyone else had left the dining hall talking about what we wanted to do in the future, and what kind of families we wanted to have. Alex wanted to provide his children with the best education. He wanted to be able to spend time with them, teach them things and pass down traditions he’d gotten from his own parents. Most of all he wanted them to value the things he valued–family, kindness towards others, hard work, service to the community. And as the dining hall workers kicked us out, I remember thinking what wonderful father Alex was going to be and how lucky I was to get to get to watch him as he went forward.
I was so impressed, and awed in a way, at his level-headedness and his clarity about what kind of person he wanted to be–and was. It was just so Alex to talk about the future not in terms of career goals but rather in terms of how he wanted to treat people and values he wanted to uphold.
Alex was spontaneous, he was joyful, even silly at times. During the time when he sported what in my opinion were an absolutely ridiculous set of mutton chops, we had an eleven e-mail exchange debating the merits of muttons which escalated into a full out debate on muttons, mullets and what I called bad hair in general. I was staunch in my position, convinced nothing could ever bring me around to facial hair. But wisdom, even in his most playful moments, was characteristic of Alex, and I remember being annoyed at having to admit defeat when he wrote:
To look at it another way, much of the fun of doing it is that
there’s absolutely no good reason to do it. Many people pull stunts that fit that description when they’re drunk; i happen to pull a few, occasionally, when i’m sober. there’ll come a point when i am no
longer amused by my chops, at which point i’ll shave them off and start
myself on some other, equally pointless project– like seeing how long i can
go without saying the word “mitten”.
The muttons were just a small example of Alex’s enthusiasm and sense of humor; his willingness to try anything, to do everything to the max. We had so many adventures and laughs and silly experiments, just to see how things would work out.
One of my favorite things to talk about with Alex was his family who I felt like I knew long before I finally met them. Alex’s stories about his sister Katherine were my favorite–however, less for their content than for the chance to watch Alex tell them. I loved to watch Alex talk about Katherine–his expression changed, his face lit up, his voice was full of admiration and pride.
Two years after graduating high school, I realize how few people you can actually keep in touch with after graduation. You only remain close with those who mean the absolute most. I never doubted that Alex would be one of those lifelong friends. I will never find the words to describe how much Alex means to me, or the magnitude of his impact on my life, but I have realized over the summer that that impact will be endless. As I go forward I will carry with me not only Alex’s memory, but his friendship as well. I will forever be inspired by his character, his enthusiasm, his love.
Everyone can attest to Alex’s spirit, there’s no question that he was one of the greatest guys I have ever gotten to know. I personally had two experiences that stand out to me as places where I choose to preserve his memory.
I rowed with ACapps freshman year on the heavyweight team, and you couldn’t have asked for a better guy to row with. Unfortunately for him, he was the ninth guy in a boat of eight, in a league where you needed the biggest guys possible to compete, so he spent the season practicing with us but sidelined during races.
Tampa training trip 2005: a quintessential part of the spring training trip is the Casino Padre, a Saturday morning race between the team which lasts about 45 minutes, a hell on earth if there ever was one. The format is 4 boats, chosen by captains the night prior; which make the bridge loop twice, a trip out by the casino, around a small island and the finish in the bay. ACapps wasn’t picked, but the night before the race a guy who was chosen to be in my boat (who was on the verge of quitting) decided he truly didn’t want to race. We looked somewhat reluctantly to the guys who hadn’t been picked and saw Alex, so we okayed it with Coach if we could switch him in. With ACapps sitting right in the middle of the boat (the engine room, as we call it), we suited up, had a very smooth row and won that Casino Padre by two minutes.
That freshman year we didn’t have a great boat, we had worked so hard that everyone was tired for most of the practices. The boat felt slow, heavy, and sluggish. The week before our league championship our head coach decided to have practice with all 4 boats competing that weekend: the Freshman 8, Varsity, JV and 3V; so we summed up all our energy to show the team that we were ready to compete. The problem was, that day our 5 seat (the strongest member of our boat) was sick. We put in Alex to fill in (again, right in the engine room), and immediately the boat picked up. Our boat felt lighter, more energetic, and ready to compete. For all of the pieces we dusted the JV and 3V, two boats that would go on that weekend to take bronze and gold medals; and lost only by 2-3 seats to the Varsity on each set. In a season that I usually don’t remember fondly, I regard that practice as the best we had all year.
I had so many great experiences with Alex, but those two memories from that freshman season stick out to me as a testament to his selflessness and determination, because I believe Alex already embodied everything about the sport that keeps me coming back.
Just thinking of you, man, not that a day goes by when I don’t. Anyway, I thought it would be good to write to you since I don’t like just thinking it because I feel like a schizo and if I talked out loud I’m afraid the neighbors would think me slightly perturbed. I’m sure you understand. I find it striking how it’s the little things that are sometimes the hardest. The big ones I expected and dealt with in due course, but its the random little things that really strike a chord in me. I don’t think I’ll ever look at meatloaf the same way and I think your Halo character has a permanent home on my X-box. I’ll try not to let anyone use him unless they promise they’re going to lose – wouldn’t want to break your streak. Matt and I started this thing with our HBC friends. We call it Meat and Movie Mondays (or MMM, M cubed). We just get together and eat manly meats (no chicken allowed – dead and red, baby) while watching bad action movies. We started out a few weeks ago with hamburgers and Above the Law; I thought you’d be proud. Not sure what we’re going to do next. I’m thinking maybe a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven double-feature. I know they aren’t action movies really, but they’re still pretty manly. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We met Bruce Campbell! No joke, honest-to-god, in-the-flesh, zombie-slaying Bruce “Gimme some sugar, baby” Campbell! It was pretty much the awesomest thing ever. You would have loved it. I miss you, Alex. My thoughts and prayers are with you always. Yours truly – Jeff “Danger” Tierney
PS: What do you think about the middle name? I’m thinking about making it official, then I’ll always have something to say at those lame events where you have to make introductions by saying your name and something interesting about yourself, as if anyone cares and remembers the name of the guy sitting next to them five minutes later. I could save time though by doing both at once so I would be super popular because I get everyone out of there faster. Name and intersting fact wrapped into one – score.
I missed you in class today. I couldn’t hear a word the professor was saying, I just stared at the empty chair next to me. You would have loved this year so much, I know it. So much has changed, and so little at the same time. Sometimes there is only an empty space around which life simply moves on. Some things just can’t exist without you. There are still times where, for a moment, I forget that you are really truly gone and I take a half step towards some curly-haired guy walking in front of me, only to remember that it can’t be you. I’ve had this image of you bobbing your head to the chorus of “Peaches” stuck in my head the last two days. It still makes me smile. So many of my best memories of you have songs attached to them. Some of them have become my favorite songs, some of them I doubt I’ll ever be able listen to again. I just want to have a few more minutes of pointless banter, one more late night conversation. I still ask myself what you would say, but I don’t have the imagination to answer. I hope you’d forgive me if I screw it all up. I miss you, always.
I somehow keep expecting that I’m going to see you soon and we’ll do that sumo thing where we run at each other as fast as we can and do a chest bump. Like right after Door. Or right in front of the library finals week last year.
I wore the sky diving shirt and everyone new about the sky diving comment, but you weren’t there to say it. I haven’t gotten called Denbe or T-Rex in ages. I miss you.
I was talking with Agnes about people being smart. You were one person I felt lost around. There were things you said, problems you solved that I knew I could never approach, no matter how hard I tried. Its finals week now and papers and tests are coming like mad and I just keep remembering last year at this time when you were doing a comp sci problem set and I came into your room. You’d finished and you were still looking up the better way to do it online. Finished but you weren’t satisfied with the right answer. I miss your spirit. I miss your enthusiasm for doing things right and for learning the right things.
I feel the need to call you. I told my dad in seventh grade that if I had one phone call to save my life, I would call you. You were the best friend. Not only mine, just the best friend I’ve ever seen. So many people trusted you. And I don’t even think that it occurred to you that that was special. And you were special. Alex nobody likes the smart kid. People hate to know that someone can do something they can’t. And you could do anything and everyone loved you anyone. Voted you valedictorian. In high school you were comfortable with every clique there was. You could walk all over the lunch room and talk to everyone. You were so comfortable with yourself. I admire that so much. I miss you so much.
The new Bond movie came out. I think you’d hate the new Bond. He’s blond. Cool movie though. I have the program from the memorial service on my wall at school. You look so happy. So foolish, just grinning. I want to see your smile again. I want to know what you think of my mustache.
I want my best friend back. I miss not having you
The video is amazing and I will keep it close to my heart forever.
The first picture of Alex at Guilder Boathouse is an amazing one. I think
it is fitting that he is placed at the spoon of the oar. It symbolizes
Alex for me, as he was always in the action whatever he did. More
importantly the spoon in rowing is what makes boats move and that is the
important part of rowing and in life. When I see him in the boat racing
it fills me up with complete happiness and emotion.
When I left Alex in 2005 he was rowing, but in the pictures and video I
see a fine oarsman in the bow seat. Watching that 8+, moving down the
Housatonic, it makes me feel so happy as he is moving that boat with his
great physique. Seeing him win and smile is all I wanted from the first
day I met him and I can take a little credit that I helped in a very
small way to achieve that.
He is rowing a little short, but we can work on that when we are in
Heaven, rowing together as the sun rises.
Alex was a special young man who touched my life by simply being himself – cheerful, funny and compassionate. I will always remember Alex sitting in my Honors Physics class in Pforzheimer Hall. He would frequently eat a huge sandwich that was bigger than his head and between bites he would amaze his peers and me with not only his powerful intellect but also his laughter and insights. A very special person, indeed.
I was looking at some old birthday pictures tonight, and it amazes me how little people have changed. Suddenly they are looking for jobs and making plans and slowly turning into adults even if they look the same. Somehow you managed to hit that balance of youthful adulthood right at freshman year. Adulthood is the wrong word, because it implies that age is related to character, something you completely disproved, but it will have to do.
I was coming back from lab yesterday when I remembered the only time I ever saw you really angry. It was after a 5 hour lab fraught with technical difficulties and bad equipment and we were spend. After it was over we cursed and yelled at the top of our lungs about the stupid equipment, laughing from the sheer insanity and frustration of the afternoon. We slowly laughed it all off, and the stress of a otherwise miserable afternoon melted away in a flurry of frustrated obscenities and vague threats toward a nameless electronics company.
We’re all going to miss you today, but you were far too cheerful and full of happiness for this to be a sad day.
Happy Birthday Cappy…
Not a day goes by that your friends don’t think of you, but even that is ill preparation for dealing with days like today. As much as it hurts though, the prospect of not remembering hurts infinitely more. You needn’t worry about that – no one will be forgetting you any time soon. Some people celebrate you with smiles and stories, others with tears and others yet by simply and quietly reflecting upon what it was that made you special to them. Everyone’s stories are different and their reasons for loving you unique, and that alone is a testament to the myriad ways in which you touched the lives of others. Despite those differences, we all loved you and we are all thinking of you today. In that, at least, none of is alone today. I hope only that all of your friends and family can take comfort in that commonality and in all their remembrances of you, both sad and happy, on this special day. We’re all thinking of you, Alex. I hope they have 40s in heaven. Love – Your friend, Jeff
On a day like today, when in all possible senses Alex would have become a man, I am amazed at how Alex could have so profoundly touched so many people before the landmark of his 21st birthday. One of the most important ways that Alex has affected all of us–and it is attested to in that which is written on this page–is that Alex is not just remembered; rather, people reflect on Alex and who he was. What I mean is that Alex is not just remembered, he is a living part of all of us. How he lives on in us is different from person to person; we all see him and feel him in different places and in different things. For some he has even replaced our conscience–the question becomes how Alex would judge something (even though he seldom judged at all–and if he did he would never let on that he was passing judgement). In this way Alex is a constant part of our thoughts.
In thinking about Alex over the past week leading up to his birthday, I have finally been able to articulate my feelings over Alex’ mind–one of the most amazing that has ever graced the world. Being able to articulate such a thought is particularly exciting in Alex’ case because I am always at a loss for words at how I can possibly do his person justice.
What made Alex different was not his brillance. While that cannot be denied, after a conversation with Alex one would never walk away thinking, “Wow is he smart.” In large part that is because he was so humble, so modest that he would never let himself seem “that smart.” What Alex could not help doing, however, was seeing the world with a CLARITY that I have never experienced and likely will never experience again. It was this ability to see the world for what it truly was that made him such a good problem-solver, such a good student and such a good person. Alex was able to strip the world of all the extranneous material and see the foundational elements of whatever the problem was–academic or social. In short, his pattern-recognition, his ability to make connections and find answers was just so much greater than anyone else’s. It was this which made him so intelligent, and it was this which mae him wise beyond his years. There is a reason that Occam’s Razor is so named–because it is so difficult to see the simple solution among the complexity of the real world.
The only thing that has ever been as clear to me as the world was to Alex is that he will be missed more than even he could ever know. I think he would be happy to know, however, that his legacy does not just comprise of passive memories but rather it consists of active reflection on his life and personality that yields these occasional insights into how someone so amazing could be understood.
We all miss you and we all love you. Forever.
Thinking of you today. And every day. And especially yesterday on your 21st – I’m sure you would have had a great party with your friends at Yale last night. I hope the party today with your friends and family was fun though.
The other day I was thinking about when I was in Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s the summer after freshman year, and I looked over the racks of dresses in the dress department and I saw Alex rising out of the elevator with the hugest grin on his face. I think that ranks as one of the times I was happiest to see someone coming up the elevator to greet me.
I can still hear Alex’s voice — the way he called my name every time I stuck my head into the doorway of F11 on the way up to my room. I remember the first time I looked in and was greeted with an enthusiastic “Laura!”. I was so flattered – he greeted me as if he had been waiting for me to come by the whole time, or like just having me there had made his day. And hearing his voice that way would always make my day. Alex had an incredible ability to treat you like you were the most important person to him when you were with him, no matter how close you were to him. I think this is partly why everyone who knew him is so profoundly affected by his absence.
For good or ill, many of my most vivid memories of Alex involve Berkeley Dining Hall. I can see quite clearly Alex eating an almost sickening number of hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, Alex allowing the table to share in his kosher muffins at Passover, Alex trying to convince my on-that-day-very-ill self to come to his 20th birthday party last year. Unluckily, and sadly, I wasn’t able to go, but I can still remember the conversation as if it were yesterday: “But Shannon! We have champagne! Lots of champagne! C’mon, just stop by for a little while.” Alex always was the life of the party; I think we’ve all been able to recognize and enjoy that fact. His enthusiasm was infectious, his smile was contagious, and he was wonderful, amazing, and fun. I’ll never forget the H/Y 2005 party in North Court that ended at 2am because our overly exuberant antics drove the residential fellows to call the police on us. And I know that none of us will ever forget Alex.
I’ve been thinking of Alex constantly over the past few days. Our friendship was originally founded on our shared birthday — although it grew to encompass the other 364 days just as much. Still, as our birthdays approached, I found myself planning for him as well as myself. I feel completely inadequate to celebrate the way Alex would have had it. After all, there are half as many birthdays. Plus, nobody can plan a party like Alex. The last time I spoke to Alex was in the first week of May, and — more than half a year in advance — we were discussing party ideas. Nothing was set in stone, but there was definitely going to be karaoke. Even if Alex doesn’t get to help decide on venues or DJs or dates, my birthday parties will always be for both of us.
When I think of Alex, I think of the F11 party with the punch in the bathroom. I remember I came by late and was just sort of awkward, pretty content to sit on the corner of the futon and bask in that crazy green light. And I remember that Alex, who I didn’t know especially well, would not let me be separate from the rest of the group, and despite him being surrounded by his roommates and friends, kept pulling me in, getting me involved, trying to get me to drink some of that really gross looking punch. Alex seemed to be kind without thinking; even multiple cups of punch into the night, he was looking out for everyone else. Two and a half years later, well integrated with Berkeley, and I still remember that kindness.
I continue to be inspired by Alex and note how many others feel the same way. We are all at the same time cheated by his loss and yet so enriched by having known him.
It’s been well over a year and a lot has changed, but still not a day goes by without you being remembered and missed. You’ve inspired changes in a lot of people, and though I’m not sure I’ll ever live up to your example, I hope to honor you with my efforts. Just wanted to let you know that although time goes by and memories fade, you will never be absent from my thoughts. You’ve become one of the most influential forces in my life, and I know that I’m only much better off for that.
I think you’d be proud of me. I got a job. I’m no longer a worthless person. I’m even a FroCo… you’d be terrified for all the freshmen. I miss you man. Living in the city this summer, I couldn’t help but think about how different things were without you. The Upper West side just isn’t the same without you there. Mike and I went to Saigon Grill las night and… guess what… the bill worked out perfectly. Of course. I don’t really know what to say now. I’m listening to silly music and bawling cause I wish you were here to mock me. I’m going hiking soon, you’ll have to check out the bombing packing job. I miss you.
If there was any day where I needed your advice, this would be it. I just hope I did right by you, you always seemed to know the right thing to do.
Always and forever: you are my inspiration.
I missed Harvard-Yale again this year. You know that means the only time I went as an undergrad was when you practically saved my life (and definitely my sanity) sophomore year. I hope you don’t mind, but I told that story during my bio. You turned what could have been one of my most bitter memories into an incredibly meaningful example of how great and giving of a friend you were… I still owe you one, for sure.
I’m not really sure what to say except that I still miss one of my funnest friends immensely, even on a random Monday in December.
P.S. I’ve conducted a random survey of all Yalies in all sorts of locations and have found that no one dances like you did in F11.
I remember riding the subway from cross country practice after school back to the upper west side and having great conversations with Alex. Usually they would be about something with a philosophical bent but with real life implications, and I recall always differing with Alex in the small details, usually just so I could claim to be winning the discussion. It was always understood between us that the conversations were just for fun and wouldn’t change anything in our relationship, but they did mean a lot to me. I learned a lot about his character in the idealistic tone his side of the discussion always had. There were times when I thought he was not being realistic, but even so, he always acted as though his ideals were reality, and through that he taught me a great deal. I miss having those conversations and am sure that I always will.
Was at Toads tonight. I miss you so much. All I can do now is listen to good guitar playing, think about you and cry.
Alex I miss you.
thinking of you, nico.
not that a day goes by when i dont, but i havent been on here in a while and i thought it would be good to post. somehow its easier to believe that you are listening when you write it down.
the boys and i are going on a little canoe trip in a couple weeks. wish you could be there, because im sure you would have loved it. it reminds me how we were always planning on spending some time on the lake back home, but never got around to it. next time i make it back to the big sky state (whenever that is..) ill be sure to pour one out for you.
in other news, steven seagal has had a busy year. he has produced (or has in the works) a bevy of mostly straight-to-dvd titles with excellent names this year. among the highlights are “Against the Dark” and “Driven to Kill”. In the latter he plays a Russian mobster named Ruslan Drachev. Classic. it is a promising start after a slow 2008.
maybe some other people will browse their way back here and be encouraged to log some thoughts now that ive tossed my hat in the ring. ill admit it is a little intimidating to be the first to write after a while without posts for fear of not having something significant enough to say. hopefully i shattered that notion (like a bad guy’s forearm) by writing about something decidedly not serious: the inestimable mr. seagal. serious of not, i thought you would like that.
As Ruslan would say: Do svidánija, comrade.