Always Be Remembering: Ali Pearl's Eulogy for Jake Adam York, Delivered at His Memorial in Denver This February
I always used to write down the wonderful, often hilarious, always perfect things Jake said in class and in meetings and at the bar and in emails. [I kept meticulous notes about almost every day of my life from when I was sixteen just up until a few months ago.] Jake always used to tell me to take notes, to carry around a notebook because it could be the prosthesis that held everything I could not always carry. He also said, constantly, “ABW, Ali. Always be writing.” So I will always be writing.
In the spirit of remembering, and because there is nothing else I have the capacity to do right now, here are some examples of the things Jake used to say, the things he used to do, the ways in which I used to react. These are all from my journal back in the fall of 2007 when I first took a class with Jake [which is to say, I was newly nineteen when all of this transpired, and brilliance was a new thing to me, and Jake was a new thing to me, and I was in awe every day that I spent with him]:
I got to know Jake first through the comparisons he always made. He would pair two seemingly disparate things, and in doing so would make the kind of observations that exploded my mind:
Jake’s encouragement was always the highlight of my day:
And somewhere in my journal, toward the end of the semester, this:
I want to tell you all the other things Jake said, how supportive he was, how he gave me the strength to fight the things I fight every day. Not just in my career, but in my life. When my Facebook status read “feels like someone poured acid down my insides,” he was the only person to ask if I was feeling less acidic the next day. Whenever I would rush into a meeting late because of some ridiculous thing or other I'd been mixed up in, he was the first to make sure I was doing ok. When I got stuck in a riot during the DNC in 2008, I told him my mom said that if I were arrested, she wouldn't bail me out of jail. He told me it didn't matter, because he'd bail me out of jail, no matter how ridiculous my crime. When we last met for drinks, as we left Bull and Bush, where we always met to catch up, he hugged me and said “You're not going to understand this right now, but I just want you to know that anything you ever need from me, ANYTHING, EVER, just ask me, and it's yours.” You could tell he'd been saving this till the end of our meeting. I was speechless. I felt, suddenly, like everything was possible in my life, because I had such an incredible person on my team, always.
But I don't need to tell you this. Because if you knew Jake, you know how he took care of his people. You know that he would do anything for the people he loved. He always used to tell me, “That's my problem, Ali. I always say yes.” He taught me to say yes. To take care of my own. To fight for my place in this world. He taught me that I am smart, that I am talented, that I am capable, that I WILL get whatever it is I decide I want.
is a PhD candidate and doctoral fellow in English literature & digital humanities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her work is published or forthcoming at Quarterly West
, and The Fiddleback