Dear Michael: In the days since your passing, countless memories of us growing up have passed through my mind. Many of your friends have reached out to me to tell me what a great friend you were, how funny you were, and how you loved your softball and your cars. You touched many people's lives and you are missed. I miss you very much.
Your good friend Karl set up this blog for you, and I thought it was a great idea. I bet you never thought that your friends would be seeing these pictures of you and hearing these stories about you. But I hope that you enjoy this short trip down memory lane, and know that it is written out of love and reverence for you, big brother.
The Wonder Years
Your friends would get a kick out of knowing that, even as a kid, you loved the Coca Cola.
In the early 1980s our parents made the brave decision to send us to the United States to study, and we settled in Southern California. They made the even braver decision to let us grow up mostly on our own. Sometimes I wonder how we didn't end up as juvenile delinquents! You didn't always have an easy time because you were just becoming a teenager when we moved. Some of your new classmates picked on you because you had an accent and brought a different-looking lunchbox to school. But you persevered and made lots of good friends. Here's a picture of us goofing around in our backyard.
Here's a picture of you on your mountain bike when we were growing up. You know how you remember certain things about your childhood? I remember once asking you whether my bike was better than yours. You said that yours was better. I then asked mom, who said that my bike was better. Upon hearing that, you said, "mom's just telling you that to make you feel better." Of course, years later I realized that you were exactly right. Even as kids, you never sugarcoated anything. You "kept it real," as the kids say these days.
Your love of baseball and softball began when you were just a teenager. Here is a picture of you aspiring to be a major league catcher. The other picture is a picture that you made me pose for, pretending to catch a fly ball in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 7 of the World Series. We forgot the ball though!
Of course we did all of the things that L.A. kids do when they grow up, including going to Disneyland.
You took good care of me when you were in high school. It was fun having an older brother who was hip and cool. You took me to my first action movie ("Top Gun"). We were regulars at McDonalds. We always ordered three large fries. One time, you thought that given that we always fought for the last french fry, we should order four large fries. At the end of that debacle we vowed never to do that again.
You went on to Berkeley after finishing high school. I know that you were intimidated at first because you told mom and dad that you felt like a small fish in a big pond. But you made lifelong friends in your architecture program and your fraternity house.
Because of our family circumstances you had to rent an apartment in Berkeley during your freshman year and have your pesky little brother with you! That was no way to start off a college career. Yet you did it anyway because we were family. The first time you were going to a fraternity formal you asked me what the right way was to dance. You asked me this question when I was in seventh grade and sadly, I gave you terrible advice.
There was the one time that I got a really, really bad cold. You gave me Tylenol, NyQuil, and Chloroseptic at the same time. That was pretty neat, because then I had my first hangover the next day. Ha!
You were so happy to graduate from college. It was on to a new life in Southern California! That is, until New York called . . . .
Anyone who knew you will know that you loved your cars. And you cycled through them like most people cycle through clothes.
Below is a picture of your very own first car, a 1986 Toyota Corolla SR5. It barely had more horsepower than our lawn mower, but it was all yours. You washed and washed that car like there was no tomorrow. And even though it produced less horsepower than your average Budweiser Clydesdale, you were not afraid to get involved in a "demonstration of speed" with your fellow motorists. One time, you came back home and hurriedly parked the Corolla in the garage. You then came to me and said "I don't want you to drive the Corolla for a few days, because I just got into it with a few mean looking dudes and they were kind of chasing me." That was pretty funny.
Here are pictures of you with your cherished BMW 325is. I promise to always keep it in our family.
I must confess that I had some pangs of concern when you first told me that you had gotten a fire-engine red Honda S2000. At first you adored the car, driving it every chance you had. But after a few months, even you came to admit that the car was a bit too nutty. But you loved it anyway.
I hadn't expected you to say anything at our wedding, but you gave a very touching speech about our childhood together and how we survived being on our own. I haven't forgotten that speech since.
I'll miss you big brother. What I regret most is that your nephew won't have the chance to hear all of your stories and take rides with you in your cars. But he'll have these pictures and plenty of stories about you from me. I know that you're smiling down on us and you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about, but that's because we love you. Until we meet again.