I remember all those nights in the library stacks when I fled my duty, the cold embrace of the Chinese Remainder Theorem, to find you in the shadows of back shelves, waiting for me. You always smelled vaguely of horses, Central Asian dust, and Middle Eastern spices. You beckoned with tales of adventures; you spun yarn of thrilling, if also horrifying, bloodshed; you promised new-found worlds, lying just slightly beneath the shifting sands of time.
I have the sad realization that our moments of magic together probably cannot be recaptured. Sadder still, I think that if you were around today, we would’ve never even met. Your standards of scholarship would be considered too flighty in this hyper-credentialed world; reviewers of your work would’ve torn into your sources, ripped apart your easy connections of cause-and-effect, and destroyed your beautiful stories. I would now be deterred by such reviews and so wouldn’t even know to regret our lost opportunities.
I’m glad then that we had the naive days of my youth together. They were lovely, and I did learn at great deal at your feet. (I will never think of Cyrus without thinking of you.) And, Harold, if ever I find myself with the prim & proper Chinese Remainder Theorem again, please know that I shall always prefer you.