Not too long ago, I gave a best man speech for my brother Ryan, who has been like a brother to me.
Watch the shitty Youtube video that my girlfriend took (just kidding, came out great didn’t it?!) or you can read along below…..
Hi everyone, I’m Matt, Ryan’s younger brother.
I’d like to start by thanking everyone who traveled great distances to be here for this special day, like Alyssa’s parents. What a treat that they could make it.
With Ryan, I never understood how lucky I was to have a built-in best friend. I just always assumed that that’s what a brother was.
As we were only a grade apart, Ryan did everything first. His life experience acted as a buffer to my anxiety and as a stress-reducer. Questions like (what’s high school like, what do I have to do to get my permit, how do I get an internship) were common and additional homework that Ryan had every night.
And each time Ryan would guide me through it, teaching me to drive (although not well), even taking a job driving an ice cream truck with me when both our futures looked bleak the summer we didn’t get those coveted internships.
But it wasn’t always so easy. Growing up, I liked sports and Ryan liked literally everything else. The running joke was, what is Ryan into this week?
Whether it was paintball, skateboarding, guitar or shooting a potato cannon onto our neighbor’s front lawns, Ryan’s hobbies were expensive and sometimes dangerous.
Everything came to a head around middle school. We fought so constantly that we were forced to go to counseling. We had to do exercises where we said, I feel blank because I did blank and now I blank.
One of the lasting things from that time period were our many endearing nicknames for each other, like Shit For Brains, Hot Dog Boy and Same Song Boy (all his for me).
Once we got into high school, however, everything changed. We had to band together.
In high school, at a certain point, being bored with my friends I started to realize I enjoyed spending time with Ryan and his friends more than my own. For a brief period of time, I literally replaced Ryan in his group of friends.
But it was during that time that we became inseparable. Anywhere that Ryan went, it was never asked but often just assumed that I would be there.
This was buoyed by the fact that girls didn’t like us.
And while building that bond I started to realize the things I had taken for granted so often before.
The little things, like the time that I was dying of boredom one night and couldn’t get anyone to go to a nearby football game with me, so I begged Ryan. And having no interest in football, he still took me, the kicker being that I couldn’t drive yet.
Or there was the time that he brought home a gift for all of his roommates and family members when he came home from a trip to Asia. And now, when I travel I always make sure I buy one person one thing, no matter where I go.
Ryan always inspired me to be a better person, and always made me feel like anything was possible.
In a way, I’ve always been chasing Ryan. After I got out of college and he had moved out, whenever I saw him was always a reminder that I could be better. When I’d hear a word I didn’t know, I’d say “Guess I have to read more” or when he sent me his newest short story I’d say “Guess I have to write more”.
But that was never the point, Ryan just always wanted everyone to be happy.
And nothing made Ryan happier than girls.
He always wanted to have a girlfriend, one that cared about him and prioritized him as much as he did them, even as he constantly overscheduled himself with friends as he got older.
Then he met Alyssa, and I still remember the day he did. Ryan came home and ran up the stairs to our loft.
He ran up, and his expressions and mannerisms could best be described as frantic. “Dude this girl is so cool. You would not believe this girl.”
He ranted and raved for about 20 minutes, while I fit in a question here and there.
He gushed about her, and he never stopped.
And once we all got a chance to meet her we new why. She was driven with her schoolwork, but spontaneous enough to live in Australia for a year. Extremely grounded but incredibly cultured.
Sweet, inviting and personable, it was easy to see what Ryan saw in her.
And this summer we were fortunate enough to have Alyssa join us for a family vacation in Rhode Island, where we had a blast going to the beach every day and cruising with the top down in Alyssa’s convertible, may it rest in peace.
What she didn’t see in him, at least initially, is that he was becoming increasingly interested in sports.
In fact, no one saw that coming, but I just wanted you to know, he never lied to you. He really used to not like sports.
But that shouldn’t matter, as they’ll always grow together and support each other’s passions, except for Ryan’s video game race car setup that Alyssa has said to me on at least one occasion “I really don’t like it.”
Today, I will channel what I learned from all those counseling sessions. I feel (excited) because (my brother is marrying his best friend) and now I (can’t wait to annoy them for the rest of their days).
So on that note, cheers to Ryan and Alyssa!