This is a picture from a couple days ago at my neighbor’s beach. From left-to-right you see me, Robin, Koffee, Gabe, Johna, Flo, and Rus. This was an impromptu gathering and was a giggle-fest of jokes and jibes, ass-grabbing and mischief, followed by most of us leaving to go to bed with a hug-fest of goodbyes. It reminds me of a comment characteristic of the sardonic wit of my friend Jeremy – he said that he looked at a bunch of chat logs stored on his computer, most of the content was the near-ritualistic ways that we kids greet new arrivals to a gathering and then say good bye. Some times the combinations of hugs required for a larger gathering can be quite amusing to see. I think Jer’s observation is valid – we spend a lot of time sharing and expressing our friendship – and I think this is easily one of the best parts of my life here.
I obviously am not blogging at a very fast pace creating new entries, so even though I think of many topics or anecdotes when I am away from the keyboard or in the middle of my second life, I come to realize I probably need to talk about the most important part of my world that I want to tell you about first. Friendship for me is such a thing.
And the huge part of my life is my best friend you see on my back in the image above. I have come to love Flo so much that I am finding a capacity for feeling I simply haven’t known in the other universe where I have become so emotionally detached from others. There are a lot of reason I have become like this, such as needing to work in a professional environment, or perhaps I simply don’t want to risk being hurt at the whims of another. Here, it seems easier to take risks, and I have been richly rewarded. One thing I have learned about friendships and love here, you can’t get if you don’t give. I am not going to try to wax eloquent on describing love, since it is the topic of so much of our music and literature and every other use of human communication. Even though I swim in the expressions of other’s love, it isn’t until I feel it that I actually know what it is.
I don’t use voice chat in SL (perhaps another topic for later) so communication is that stream of text and the visual clues of our avatars and the settings we find ourselves in. Our avs and our text are like a lens through which we project our personalities and perceive others, and even though the bandwidth used by the SL client to do this is pretty big, the bandwidth for typical human communication is pretty small. The amazing thing to me is how huge the emotional effects can be. For example, I got really really close to someone previously, who then asked to downgrade the status of our relationship. In the minutes, then days, that followed I learned in a big way that SL was no trivial game. My emotions were extremely strongly affected. I was hurting so much I almost recoiled from being Pais and this life totally. And then I realized this is what I had done in the other universe. SL was teaching me about myself and my ability to have friends and share love and I struggled on in hope that I would get past my pain and maybe even be in love again.
Flo came into my life and even though I was scared and hurting, I opened my heart a crack and the light and love poured in from this wonderful person. We soon became house-mates sharing a little island home, and then a month ago we became partners. It amazes me how wonderful it is to share such deep friendship in SL.
Day to day, seeing old friends and meeting new people is what gives second life the real life. Behind the other avatars are real people, and some of them reveal keen intellects, marvelous personalities, and huge hearts. Second life may look like a make-believe world, but the feelings one gets when being with friends is very real.