I spent the weekend processing this news, which mostly meant sitting around, avoiding thinking about it, and then writing this out. It’s been sitting in my drafts, and now that the news of his passing has spread it felt appropriate to post it.
My friend Ryan Davis.
I got a text from John Drake at 2PM on the 4th of July asking if I was awake. It was the middle of the afternoon, which made it a weird thing to ask, but a couple more texts revealed something was up and John needed to call and talk to me. A few minutes later I learned that our friend, Ryan Davis - someone whose wedding we had attended so recently that we were still a little jet-lagged from the return trip - had died suddenly.
I had the chance to actually hang out with Ryan in person fewer times than I have fingers and toes, but his absence is already felt because, of all things, Twitter. We became friends over Twitter - through a shared sense of humor, and through his personal appreciation for breaking my balls, and encouraging our mutual friends (my girlfriend Hannah chief among them) do the same.
Here’s a thing - at their wedding reception, Ryan and Anna made the rounds, and when they reached The Boston table they asked me to pay close attention to the place-card listing the guests seated there. Every other name was listed alphabetically, but mine was out of order. They had VERY SPECIFICALLY put it last on the list, and took a moment out of their big day to make sure I saw it. This is what I’m talking about.
My normal reaction when someone is giving me a hard time is to roll my eyes and write that person off. But with Ryan, it didn’t bother me*, instead something about the guy made me want his approval. Some chemistry of his personality and humor triggered a different response in me and I very badly wanted Ryan to be impressed with me. I certainly wasn’t close enough to him to think of as a big brother, and I never had a big brother, but “little brotherly” is the only way I was ever able to describe this impulse. He’d let me past the prickly goofs at my expense often enough to know I was one of his friends, and if there was anything Ryan loved, it was his god damn friends.
The last real-life moment I had with Ryan was him grabbing me and Eric Pope at his wedding a week ago, squeezing us tight and telling us how glad he was that we flew out to San Francisco for the event. He rubbed his giant sweaty palms over each of our faces, knowing exactly how slick and smooth and just a little disgusting it was. And the last thing I said to him on Twitter was to tell him that it was like being licked by a dinosaur.
There’s nothing but tragedy in Ryan being taken from all of us so young and so soon after getting married to an amazing woman who loves him, but I am grateful for these moments being so fresh in my mind. And while I don’t get to drink with him at conventions anymore, or hear his very deliberate decision on which new pop-hit is or is not a Summer Jam, or catch hell from him for saying the wrong thing on Twitter… I’m grateful that he was a part of my life enough that I miss these things already. I don’t think he was ever impressed with me in the way I wanted, but I’m glad that I could count him as a friend.
* Though it did occasionally make me nervous! Once Hannah found a hideous photo of a long-dead Elks Lodge president that people claimed looked like me, and I drunkenly begged her not to Tweet it, declaring dramatically, “Ryan Davis would have a FIELD DAY!”