Back in June, circa 1998, I flew to Chicago for the first time with my aunt Liz. While there, I fell in love…with the city. I was also quite intrigued by my concierge, Alister. I was 17 and he was twelve years my senior. While waiting for my taxi to shuttle us to the airport, I had the opportunity (and misfortune) to talk with Ali. As the time passed, I learned of the vast similarities we shared despite our age difference. Twenty minutes of conversation inspired what later became a decade of friendship. Ali came to visit Little Rock once. I was dating someone seriously at the time. I mention this to prove Ali and I shared a purely platonic relationship.

Through the ten year course of our friendship, he encouraged me to visit multiple times. Perhaps it was my fear of flight, the timing,  or intuition that forced excuses and left me Arkansas bound. Ali worked at the hotel part-time enabling him to finish medical school. He often mentioned working long hours which made it difficult for him to visit more.