Chris Hicke doesn’t always find it easy to find it easy to make friends, but once he got into the metal scene, he really started to understand gratitude.
This Thanksgiving, I’d like to show appreciation for something fairly typical of this holiday: friends.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never considered making friends to be particularly easy. I don’t have a problem talking to people in general, but I’m not particularly good at starting conversations with people I haven’t met before. I’m generally fine with anything that starts through a mutual friend; it’s approaching someone for the sake of being social that’s not been my strong suit. That, coupled with my strong preference for smaller, more intimate gatherings over meeting up at loud bars (especially on game day) leads me to value what friendships I do make all the more.
I met many of my closer friends and acquaintances while living and attending school in Los Angeles, as well as the subsequent time spent as a performing member of the local music scene and metal community. They’ve come from all sorts of places, some within America’s borders, such as Texas, Florida, and New York, to countries as far away as Iceland, Finland, Romania, India, and Singapore. While I’ve never crossed an ocean (much to my eternal dismay), simply meeting these people has opened my eyes in ways I couldn’t have imagined beforehand. The look into other cultures, foods, lifestyles, and even music, to the extent one can learn them from only a handful of people, is something for which I don’t think I’ll ever quite figure out how to express my appreciation for.
The Los Angeles metal community, especially, is one that I’ll never forget. I was a part of it for almost two years, both as a performer and a fan; I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend experiencing what kind of camaraderie I’ve found at shows. You will be hard-pressed to find people as loyal and supporting anywhere, I guarantee you. Even if, like me, you’re not the most sociable of people online or by phone, these people will greet you at each show like a brother.
I am, of course, especially grateful for the people who have become particularly close to me. My best friends from high school who, even if we don’t talk or see each other more than once or twice a year, I know I can turn to for crude banter and good advice. The bros I hung out with while taking classes in LA who, for whatever reason, put up with my proclivities for the better part of two years. And, of course, two of the finest women I’ve ever met. From Romania and Iceland, I met them both out of sheer dumb luck. For better or worse, they both had a lot to do with tearing off my proverbial shell, and I honestly can’t imagine living without them.
I don’t know about any of your readers, but, while I can remember when I met most of these people, I can’t pin down exactly what or when they went from “person I see in class/parties” to close friend, but I suppose that part isn’t important. It matters more that they’ve come to occupy a part of my life that I hadn’t realized was empty, that our pieces fit to create something unique and invaluable. I may not be great at showing my appreciation in person, but these people these bonds, are nonetheless from where I draw my strength, especially when things get rough. It’s a love and thankfulness I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to accurately convey.
Photo: Flickr/Julie Gibbons