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"Ryan" from Get Stoned and Read This Book

March 20, 1994

The shirt read, "The mind, the body, the spirit, the soul". Hedonism in Jamaica. We were so excited. Four of us, on a plane, going to Jamaica, going to HEDONISM.

So we get there, we get on a bus to the resort and we start getting high. All fucked up. We stumble off the bus, go to our rooms, drop our shit, and hit the beach. Hedonism is one of those all-inclusive places, too, so we eat and drink as much as we wanted whenever we wanted. A glutton's paradise.

The trip pretty much goes that way until Wednesday. That afternoon, I get two messages in my room, one from my roomate back in Boston and one from my mother, five minutes apart. There are no phones in the rooms there, so I walk up to the main building to call home. All I can think of is my Grandfather died.

I'm nearly in tears when I get the connection home. My father answers. "We've got some bad news for you." He hands me to my mother (he has a tough time dealing with these things sometimes). My mother gets on the phone. "What's going on mom?"

"Ryan died."

Ryan was my freshman year roommate at BC. That's a weird time-- being away from home, starting fresh with your whole life. We were fast friends. I describe our friendship as we always had an inside joke on. I would walk into a room, see him talking to somebody or pulling somebody's leg, and I'd know immediately what was going on. And he knew that I knew what was going on. He transferred after freshman year, but we stayed in touch. He was a good friend.

The next few moments are a bit fuzzy. I don't have all the details, the service was today, he died on Sunday, his mom called, it's too late to fly to California. I kinda just remember hanging up the phone and being back in my room crying to my friends.

I spent the next two days between excessive binging and being an emotional wreck. Lots of crying. Just not real stable. At dinner that next night, I'm kinda sobbing, waiting for the post-meal entertainment. I'm sitting with the boys, and all of a sudden, through the tears and my impaired vision, Ryan is there too, sitting in the empty chair across the table from me.

I look at him, and my mood immediately changes. I think to him (myself?), "Ryan, I'm going to tell Fitzy that I'm too upset to go the bar myself, and I'm going to get him to get one for me." "Dude, you can't do that." "I'm going to-- 'Fitz, my friend just died, would you go get me a beer?" "Oh, man, that is so fucked up..." And I smiled. And he laughed, and was gone.

My life has been different ever since.

About a year later, one of my co-workers left my company, and left a mounted SI cover hanging in his cube. I still have it hanging in my bedroom. It was from BC's defeat of North Carolina during March Madness. The date of the issue is March 28, 1994. The date of the game was March 20, 1994.

March 20, 1994. The day we left for Jamaica, the day Ryan died, the day my life changed.

I just found out about it four days late.
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