Had to check back where I left off.
Having gotten back to the bar early (or so I thought) I was quick to discover that a small crowd had started to gather in front of the ‘Stop. We quickly delegated jobs to the folks who had agreed to help and ushered everyone else upstairs. In time the bar was filled with BME folks coming to say their farewells to Shannon, to relive a little bit of the old IAM meetup magic, and to generously donate to our memorial raffle.
Despite my lack of sleep I was fully energized. The volunteers (led by Sahra, Kevin and Perk) were kicking ass. People were buying jello shots and raffle tickets, prints and shirts. Brian had prepared a few gigs worth of photographs to be displayed on loop via the theater on the top floor; walking into a crowd full of BME kid sitting quietly watching a slide show filled with so many great memories while Djs John Stanley and Robert Drake played their eclectic mix was something to see.
I knew that I had a speech to give later on in the evening, and this was it. Nothing written. Nothing prepared or rehearsed. This was Shannon’s legacy for me. Not the body mod stuff. Some of us were well versed in the modification world before we met him… but the social part. People brought together from all over the world united by something we cared about. Photos of old BME meets being projected; our younger selves smiling and laughing and as I looked around the room- there was Rana who I first met in Mexico, smiling the same smile as she was in the pics and still as lovely as the first time I met her. There’s McErin and Bucket, there’s Shannon back when everything was much simpler.
Eventually I delivered my speech; with Perk behind me (he’s always there, watching my back. “I’ve got this, Shawn”) and Falkner in front of me. Bethra and Bethany close by. A whole room full of amazing people and I just started talking. I hope to god I made some sort of sense and didn’t come off like a blathering idiot.
Shannon Larratt invited me on a journey 18 years ago; I’m glad that I’m still enjoying the ride.
There are so many more Stay Calm memories I could share with you; finally making out with a woman who I’ve waited a decade to ask me to kiss her, the hugs from Bethany and Bethra and Allen. Finally helping the last few stragglers out (“Shawn, I’ve lost my underwear!”) and getting home with Bee and crashing hard. The stories will get told one day, at a BBQ or a party just like this one and I’ll remember why BME and Shannon- good and bad, played such an amazing part in my life.
Rest in Peace, my friend. I wish you would have stuck around a little while longer.