A Toast to Alex and Autumn

Alex and Michael at wedding

Yesterday I got to attend the wedding of the man most of you know as the writer of Black Snow, but I know as my good friend Alex Siquig.  There were some really nice speeches given, and my wife really thought I should do a toast, but I did not.  Why?  Well, I am a very shy person with a pretty crippling fear of public speaking.  I also did not have anything prepared, and I don’t feel I’m the best off the cuff guy.

Then there was the intimidation of the speeches I heard as they came one after another.  They were all really good.  One thing I found a little bizarre was people felt the need to stake their claim on Alex’s friendship, and the speeches were as much (if not more) about themselves than Alex.  One started with “I’ve been Alex’s best bud for a long, long time.”  Another started “I’m Alex’s oldest friend” and later reiterated a few times “I was his very first best friend.”

Why did everyone feel the need to establish to the crowd how close they are with Alex?  Where did I stack in these rankings?  I don’t know.  People seem to have some kind of sense of pride from letting the world know that Alex has a relationship with them.  Well, I guess it’s my turn.

Alex is my best friend.  I don’t have a ton of friends, and really that is by choice.  As mentioned earlier, I’m a shy person and I don’t feel the need to put myself out there with people all the time.  Does that mean I’m some antisocial shut in?  I wouldn’t go that far.  I’d generally just rather stay home with my family than go out with friends.

Not that I’m super unfriendly.  I think I’m a nice enough guy.  And when I say I don’t have a ton of friends I mean close friends.  I’ve got a lot of acquaintances that you could call friends, but when it comes to real close friends I keep a small circle.

Alex and Michael over the yearsI met Alex at summer camp, I believe it was 1998 and we were 12 and 13 (I’m a year older).  We hit it off pretty quickly, despite vying for the affection of the same stupid girl.  Any rivalry that existed was overwhelmed by a connection we established, mostly through a similar scathing sense of humor.  We were a couple of weirdos who did things like pretended to be doormen while talking trash about everyone we saw.

I never went to school with Alex, I didn’t live very close to him, and beyond camp we didn’t frequent a lot of the same circles.  But a friendship was formed and we were bonded in a way that caused us to seek each other out.  It wasn’t a forced friendship or born out of convenience.

Why was I so drawn to him?  I couldn’t say, exactly.  Alex is a really unique guy, one that I have trouble even describing accurately.  One of the recurring themes of the speeches yesterday was Alex’s ability to bring people together, and inspire them.  And those things are true.

He always has something going on, and surrounds himself by new and old friends.  He has introduced me to a plethora of interesting people over the years, and invited me into all sorts of bizarre, wonderful situations.

As far as the inspiration, and this is the part that really pertains to you Black Snow fans, these comics would not be happening if Alex had not gotten me to start drawing.  I’ve said before that I’ve been drawing all my life, and while that is basically true there was a period starting in middle school that carried over into high school were I didn’t draw much at all.

I was always a very frustrated artist, never knowing what to draw, and hating most of what I did.  Original creations were especially hard.  But when your friends with Alex you just do things.  Like write an impromptu comic comic book.  Then draw it.

And even though looking back at the art of Black Snow issue 1 is pretty painful now, Alex never criticized any of it.  He made me feel good about what we were doing.  As much as I love to draw and it has become a pretty big part of my life, I don’t think I’d be doing it if it wasn’t for my friend.

For most of our friendship Alex and I haven’t seen each other on a daily basis.  Now that he lives in Baltimore I see him a couple times a year.  But no matter how much time passes, every time we see each it feels exactly the same.  It is like I saw him only moments before.

And over these some 17 years (wow, that is a long time) we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve also always been there for each other, even in our toughest times in life.  When we talk we cut right through the bs and are able to speak honestly.  We’ve been though a lot.

So where does that place me in his pantheon of friends?  I don’t know.  Am I his best friend, was I ever?  Does it matter?  Not really.  I’m not some teenager obsessed with status and labels (anymore).  And over the years I’ve realized I have little control over how others think of me.  All I can really know is how I feel about others.  And I know how I feel about Alex.

Alex and Autumn wedding ceremony with Mike Park

By now you might be wondering what about the woman he married?  Do I have anything to say about Autumn?  To be perfectly honest, I don’t know her very well.  I’ve met her a few times, but most of my experience of getting to know her has been filtered through talking with Alex or seeing her Facebook feed (ugh, Facebook feed relationships).  But I know she must be something special for Alex to fall head over heels for her in such a short time, and drop everything in his life to be with her.

When he first told me about meeting  her, then her leaving for France two weeks later I didn’t really know what to think.  But the hopeless romantic he is, being on the other side of the world was not a deterrent and a relationship blossomed.  When she came back for a couple months before moving to Baltimore for school he was torn on what to do.  I thought he was a little nuts when he told me that he decided to move to Baltimore with her.  He was leaving behind his family, friends, the job where we worked together, and pretty much everything in his life.

My initial thoughts were selfish.  I was pretty sad he was leaving and I wouldn’t get to see him.  I wouldn’t get to work with him.  I wouldn’t get to hang out with him.  I didn’t know if we’d get to keep working on the comics.  And it was all for a girl I hadn’t met.

Then I met her at his going away party.  Clearly she was a unique person, and they had formed something very special.  I could see why he was ready to gamble it all on her.  And it is a gamble that paid off for both of them.

So I wish them great happiness on their continued adventures together, and I feel honored to be a small part of it.

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