Dylan McKay Will Always Be My First Love—An Ode To Luke Perry


Dylan McKay. Fred Andrews. Luke Perry.

To me, you’ll always be Dylan.

Either way, your memory is forever etched into the hearts of countless people.

What a legacy to leave.

Dylan McKay, you were dreamy. Sultry. Sexy. Intriguing. I’m pretty sure I had your face taped to the walls of my bedroom for a large chunk of my teenage years. I may have written you fan mail, too. You were my forever crush, my first love. You didn’t lose any of that charm on Riverdale, either. It’s nice to know that some things just stay the same.

Your James Dean, bad boy look is what made us first crush on you, but your heart is what made us fall in love.

Dylan McKay stood up to bullies. He made poetry cool. Dylan McKay taught us even the “bad boy” teenagers can take AP Literature. He made reading sexy. He made us want to go to Europe. He’s the first person I ever knew who lived in a hotel. He made it obvious that money doesn’t equate to happiness. He stood for his principles – when the SAT Board tried to say that he cheated, he didn’t stand for it.

Dylan McKay made us all want to surf, and ride a motorcycle, and go to Baja, and fix cars.

Dylan McKay showed us the humanity of addiction. He reminded us that addicts have hearts, too.

He showed us how to love, and how not to love. He showed us how to stick by our friends, and what it means to stick by someone who is hurting, who is struggling to stay afloat. He showed us how to let go, too.

Dylan McKay showed us that sometimes your family is not one you’re born into, but the one you make.

He showed us what betrayal looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. He showed us what happens when you isolate yourself in times of bone sadness, and how that can manifest itself in destruction, in depression, and in the kind of break in a soul that is palpable.

Dylan McKay showed us about redemption. He reminded us of the flaws in all of us, that nobody, is perfect. Dylan showed us what it is to be swallowed up by the fires of hell and the gaping hole of loss, and how we can climb our way back to the other side of darkness.

Dylan McKay taught us about life.

The greatest actors, whether it is in a movie, or a theatre piece, or a television show, will make you feel when you watch them. They’ll make you think that they are their character, that the person that they brought off the page is a living, breathing human. The greatest actors will bring the writers words to life in a way that breaks through the screen and into your hearts.

Luke Perry did that. And then he did it again. His gift for storytelling is but only part of his legacy, and what a beautiful legacy it is.

I’ll always think of him at the beach, listening to the waves – forever at peace.