This is a seriously brain-melting question. Where would I be now if WoW didn’t exist? Or where would I be now if I’d never started playing? Or are those two questions essentially the same thing anyway? I can’t tell you where I would be, but I can tell you where I wouldn’t be. See the difference?
It should also be noted that whilst I have written the occasional post that’s full of personal stuff, this one is a whopper - a combination of a love letter to Himself and a (long-overdue) thank you letter to Tam and Miss M, without whom there would be no Himself and Myself. Well, clearly there would be a Him and a Me but there wouldn’t be an Us. If you’re feeling bitter about relationships, or just generally despise and detest romance and joy, stop reading now.
So… are you sitting comfortably?
Back in the spring, I read about a new WoW ‘project’ set up by Tam in Europe and Miss Medicina in the US – SAN, the ‘bloggers’ guild. I’d burnt out from raiding and WoW in general, but missed gaming and being an avid reader (and occasional writer) of blogs, I decided to roll a character on AD and get back into playing. Not long after, my long-term relationship hit the buffers and we split up. I wrote a brief post about this – not to garner sympathy but because I felt the final decision had been mine, and as we were both guilded with SAN it felt like the right thing to do – to let people we gamed with know the score. I was overwhelmed with the support I received; in blog comments, in emails and in in-game chat. I swore off relationships until at least 2011 – I wanted a complete break and for nearly the first time in my life, felt ok about that.
One night I’d gotten talking to a guildie who I vaguely knew – he wrote a witty blog himself and was a regular commentator on my blog. His comments had frequently stood out because he got some of the more obscure references in my posts. He wasn’t particularly vocal in guild chat, but when he did interject it was always with something helpful, well thought out, funny or a combination thereof. I think, but my memory might not be 100% on this, he’d either sent me a tell asking if I was ok or I’d sent him a tell thanking him for his support. We chatted a bit – in particular I recall him being very supportive of my decision to have a ‘relationship detox’ as he called it, and discussing relationships and break ups and coping with the aftermath of them. My initial thoughts regarding intelligence and humour were confirmed and when he eventually logged off (or went afk) to get some wine something cropped up at my end and I went off line. No big deal right?
Over the next few days we chatted a bit more, then one evening, for reasons which continue to allude me, we went from general chatting to something a bit more flirty. But word-play flirty, nothing explicit or untoward. I remember him eventually sending me a tell – up until now we’d been in a chat channel with I think one other person who must have wondered what he’d strolled into, saying that he was struggling with further humour along the lines that we’d been following, and I recall breathing a huge sigh of relief as I’d have had to start recycling puns that I’d made half an hour ago… That night we meandered slowly down the road of more serious flirting, but again, nothing icky, nothing cyber-y. And eventually we logged off. Over the course of a few more nights we progressed from in-game chat, to MSN and email and eventually to an exchange of mobile phone numbers. Then we talked proper for a few nights then it was Friday and neither of us had plans for the weekend. Throwing caution to the winds, we agreed that he’d come down and take me out for supper.
I rang a friend panicking, and asked her to call me at 10pm that night to check I wasn’t bound and gagged in the boot of his car (thanks Feebs *hugs*). I remember giving myself a good talking to. What was I doing, agreeing to meet with someone I’d met over the interwebz? But I also remembered the talks until the early hours, how much I’d liked his voice, how interesting and funny he was, how self-deprecating, how intelligent and how much I wanted to meet him. I had no agenda – at the very least I figured it would be nice to meet him in RL, as it were. I didn’t expect to really like him - that would be expecting too much.
I certainly didn’t expect to fall in love with him in the space of a weekend. I remember very well, on the Saturday afternoon, somewhere quiet in Wiltshire, lying in the sun with my head on his chest and the world stopping. Everything receding, all the noise, the bustle, the internal monologue of ‘must do this, must remember that’ gone. I remember crying, in a “please, no – waaaay to soon, I don’t want this now” way, but also with happiness. It’s so rarely I ‘get’ rapture – those moments where you feel like you really transcend your physical body and something ‘higher’ takes over (sorry for myffic speak, but I’m still struggling to explain it) but that was one of those moments. I remember the crushing feeling of anguish as he dropped me home at crack of dawn on Sunday morning - earlier I'd cried and told him I loved him. Looking at him in profile at the wheel of the car, looking at his wrists on the steering wheel, trying to imprint every moment on my memory. I remember him kissing me and telling me how much he’d like to see me again. And I remember talking to him later that day, and every night thereafter.
He drove down to me every weekend for months. We went abroad for a week in the summer. He bought me the ring I’d described and put it on the fourth finger of my left hand. I left my home, my family, friends and job and moved in with him 6 weeks ago. We went out for supper a fortnight ago – to celebrate our six months together, and talked about the future.
Causality, links in the chain, are so staggeringly fragile. Had Tam not decided on a SAN EU, had SAN not been established on an RP server, had my relationship not gone kaput, had either Himself or I not been bloggers, had we not gotten talking that night, had one of us decided it was too risky to give a phone number to someone online, had one of us gotten cold feet that weekend and cried off. There wouldn’t be an Us. So to Tam and Miss M I offer my heartfelt thanks. Sometimes you change people’s lives without meaning to. You changed mine. You, WoW and Himself. So if it’s all the same with you folks, I’m not going to think about where I’d be if WoW didn’t exist. Because I’m happier now than I’ve been in a very long time, if not forever, and I intend to stay that way. How much of it can I honestly lay at the feet of a game? Most of it. There’s very little likelihood of Himself’s path crossing with mine. We lived 200 miles apart and I can’t fathom a set of circumstances under which we’d have met. Maybe, if you believe in Fate, you’d argue that we would have. I’ll stick to believing in belfs and trolls, if it’s all the same to you…