Isn’t it odd how you can pass and meet so many souls spending time gaming online, yet only meet a couple? Like there are forces at work beyond all those zeros and ones. Energies travelling along with the virtual transportation of pixels. Energy belonging to the person controlling those very pixels…
“Heading out… south it is! Otherwise I won’t get this bloody orc to level.” As I turn my warrior around my mind is flooded with memories of Gaz. I’m not even sure why I started playing this second mmo in the first place. “Yes, I do! To get away from being reminded of him.” I immediately want to get rid of that thought, but only to realize the memory of him still haunts me.
A year before this time and day, I am flying in the first mmo I’ve ever played while innocently healing a nearby player. As soon as I have done so I wonder my reasons: “Why heal a healer, you noob!” I curse myself not just inwardly. “I’m so lame. Or wait, am I? I really felt he needed it. Yeah, right! Well, then again, I would love not having to spend my mana by getting an occasional heal from others then myself when questing. That leaves me with more mana to down the sucker I’m on, right? But at least I would be thanking the healer in question. Hehe, players these days.” I snicker about this reasoning when continuing my virtual flight path.
As my healer flies on a message pops up in game. “Hiya, I’m Gaz. I couldn’t help but think that it’s the sweetest thing to give me a heal! And here I was thinking I am the only healer remaining in this game who still does that. When YOU do it though it leaves quite an impression. So, thank you! Mad skills on creating that toon and outfit by the way. So colorful and yet not all that revealing for a change. For that I am quite certain you are not a dude playing a girl toon, right? 😉 ” The message is sent by the healer I just passed and gave a friendly heal during my flight.
What follows between Gaz and me from that moment on is an exchange of recognition, laughter, flirting, mystery and mere pleasantries, though ever growing in quantity and intensity. It is like I can sense when he is about to come online or when he is near me in our virtual fantasy world. I find that Gaz lives in South Africa; to me that sounds like the other side of the world. A far and exotic place I will probably never get to visit.
After a year of going back and forth between expressions of love and pushing each other away, due to the sheer unimaginable physical distance between the two of us, a radio silence follows. I am left behind feeling distraught. The mmo I used to love playing doesn’t bring solace to my lonely existence anymore. Everywhere I look, quest or conquer I miss his pixelated fairy form.
I feel only a parting with the game I have come to love will give me the room I need now. But the mind should be kept busy in order to keep pressing on, I know. Therefor I decide on a new mmo. Not only because I like computergames but also for it has come to me that my lost love is playing this mmo also. I find out what Gaz’ new nickname is and where he is playing through a mutual friend of ours. When making a toon there my better judgments don’t prevent me from creating it on the exact same realm.
Against all hopes that I will ever meet him again, I run into the new troll form my love has taken on in this new game sooner then expected. I recognize the nickname the mutual friend informed me of. I know it has been poor judgement on my side to start playing this realm in the first place and decide not to approach Gaz after all. I still feel like a silly schoolgirl over him though that age has past me quite some time ago already.
Nearing my thirties I believe I should really be maturing in a more proper fashion by now. I decide it would be best to let go of Gaz and play this new mmo solely for the purpose of having fun again. “I mean, common, these games are no darn dating sites! If they would be, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I don’t need a ball and chain. Pff!”
And so my solitary life continues again week after week. I’ve had a whiff on love but nobody has shown me the kitchen, is how I feel when matters of the heart are concerned. Gaz is still generating fleeting thoughts in my head but I choose to ignore em most of the time. I have sent him e-mail after e-mail without response. It is time to move on, I realize that much, but how?
‘First things first though,” I think and I tell myself after this interlude. “I handed in all my completed quest and picked up the new ones, so get a move on, slacker!” My orc form gets in motion and walks by another toon. I don’t give it much thought and walk ahead towards the south exit of the Crossroads I am in. When I stand at the gate, I feel a strange pull. Not able to put my finger on it straight away, I rotate my camera a full 360. “See, nothing keeping me here, why don’t I just walk south then? What is keeping me here?” I look around, hoping to see Gaz’ nickname pop up somewhere like it always has when I felt this pull.
When I am finally convinced my mind is playing tricks on me, I resolutely shake off the pull I have been feeling and turn around to continue my journey south. It is then a whisper pops up in chat. “Hiya, lemme guess, you are Dutch?” “Pfft, what gave me away? It must be my name,” my sarcastic reply reads. “Guys these days! Even when behind a computer screen the pick-up lines aren’t getting any better, are they?” I sigh over this attempt to strike up a conversation with me. My train of thought is set in motion again. “No, no, I am NOT falling for this. Last time I let a guy chat me up is still haunting my virtual endeavors. I will not let this slide again. I have felt this pull before, but only to loose love just as easily as it is won. No, I am not falling for this again! Oh common, why be so serious? No harm in talking to the dude without being such a pain, is there?”
The guy asks me to join him in a dungeon run nearby. It is a level appropriate dungeon for me so there is no reason to decline. Convinced I will not let this tauren druid take me by the hand in some dungeon I don’t know while laying the base for other virtual endeavors I accept his group invitation. It turns out he is a healer quite some levels ahead of my orc warrior and he wants merely to run the Wailing Caverns dungeon for the achievement. He saw my level and guessed I needed stuff there too. “So far so good,” I think as I accept. We surprisingly connect deeply; we laugh and talk for hours following our meet; lost in a dungeon without maps to check for directions. I feel totally at ease as I quickly find out the druid has a lovely lady who also plays. Things all sound legit. Before I know it, I even agree to meet them for tea a couple weeks later. I also accept a guild invite from the druid.
“Are you actually meeting up with this guy!?! Here we go again.” Eric laughs heartily at me from the opposite side of the table. “Don’t be such a pain, Eric. You meet guys on sites so obscure I don’t even wanna know about it and here you are laughing at me for accepting a harmless meet with some fellow gamers?” I dispute the hesitations of my best friend for agreeing to the druid’s invitation. “Because I am meeting both him, his lady and their little girl, you know. You were the one telling me to get out more in the first place?” I try to reassure my friend and myself.
Eric knows my heart still belongs to the last man I met online, the South African. He would hate to see me fall once again for some unattainable online fling although he would support me no matter what. And so he does. After meeting the couple I spend more time with them both in and outside the game though I tend to talk more with the druid then his lady, the rogue.
In the meantime Gaz comes back ingame and as fait will have it, he is in the same guild I am. Still week in the knees every time he comes online, I notice soon enough that this love is not played out yet. I muster up all my courage and get myself a plain ticket and reservations. The summer that follows is filled with a whole month of puppy love in South Africa, I actually meet Gaz in real life for the first time. I feel his embrace, see elephants, buffalo’s; have more adventures then I could ever imagine. We stay at a vacation destination first and meet up with his parents and friends for the remainder of the month.
My life couldn’t be more dreamy even after that rainy night where Gaz’ stepdad Dale tells me not to believe in having a life with Gaz too much. “Oh, he loves you, that much is clear to me. I have known the boy since he was two, so believe me when I say that he just ain’t the type to ever commit to anything in life,” Dale ends his narrative. I on the other hand am certain a life with my online love is about to find it’s way now that we have actually met.
When my time in South Africa comes to an end a lot of promises are made both ways. Once back home Gaz and I chat and spend more time together then ever before. A love is also rekindled with the game where we first met. But cracks start showing soon enough too. After half a year has passed Gaz isn’t available as much due to work, he assures me. I can no longer reject thoughts of the talk I had with Dale on that warm, rainy evening in South Africa though.
My last hopes are sneaking out the door; I have had it with Gaz and his ongoing promises. I should have listened to Eric all along. Nobody finds love by playing some childish game! I should start by meeting more people in real life. Then I get an invite to the annual BBQ of my old guild the druid is organizing. Believing the guild meeting will be a good start, I accept the druid’s invitation.
The first thing the druid asks when I enter the party is how our mutual South African friend is doing. I only glance at him sideways shutting him up immediately. When the druid and I have a private talk in the garden he tells me his relationship with the lady rogue is over. Now that he knows I am not with Gaz anymore he opens up. I should be looking for love in more ordinary places close by, he tells me. I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders. I confess too; this is true love.
To this day I live happily ever after with my druid and our lovely twins.