Behind a cloud of smoke, and a camouflage of abrasive anecdotes, stood a genuine man.
A man from Blagoveschensk, with a soul deeper than the diamond mine at Mirny in Yakutia.
A broken man, who understood me perhaps better than almost anyone else ever has, or ever will.
A man whose personal life consisted of a maze of betrayal, guilt and redemptive work, who taught me by example: this is how you get through, how you balance your accounts. Line by line.
A well-read, well-rounded man with the quirkiest sense of humor, who introduced me to both Vasily Grossman and South Park.
A brilliant, humble, brutally honest man, behind whose facade I glimpsed a boy shivering in the cold.
A gifted interpreter, who bridged worlds with a shrug.
A man who called himself mockingly, "uglier than nuclear war," but whose eyes glowed deepest aquamarine clear across a room.
A friend on whom I turned my back.
In this world, it is too late for me to apologize, so I am posting a version of Bella Akhmadulina's poem (sung by Alla Pugacheva), in hopes that the message might reach further.
For Goroshek. And for Anya, who was faithful to him till the end.
The elevator was never ersatz, Goroshek.
Here is a link to an excellent article on Akhmadulina's poem, by Alexander Anichkin.