How Pirates, Tequila, and a Virtual World Changed my Life

This post was written as a response to the Weekly Writing Challenge from Daily Post, entitled “I remember”. I picked the “Freestyle Memory” prompt and chose not to end at 10 minutes. I will revise my post in a couple of days, as per the directions.

“I have a confession!”

“You’re drunk? I already know that.”

“Well yes, but that’s not it… and now my fingers are giving me away.”

*raises a brow*

“I like you.”

You may have not heard about it, but there is a virtual world where people meet new friends, find romance, make enemies, share their musical and artistic talents. A world that the operating business says is “created by and for it’s user community”. This virtual world is called Second Life, and I lived a “second” life there for more than seven years.

It will have been three years this coming Thursday since the dialog above occurred. I never could have guessed then how my life would change in the future, or how the combination of those words, combined with tequila, sake, music and pirates would start the best relationship I have ever been.

It was Pirates night at The Peg Leg Saloon in Transylvania. The regular DJ was unable to make it, and despite the fact that I had been drinking for awhile I knew I could still handle the airwaves decently while inebriated. I volunteered to play the music for the event and asked a couple of friends to join me for the pirate themed two hour event.

I had a friend I had known for about a year in Second Life (or “SL” as the residents call it),  who I had never had anything but a completely platonic relationship with. This friend, we’ll call “Levi” for the sake of not continuing to call him “this friend”. Poor, nameless friend. Anyway… “Levi” and I had hung out at and worked at a couple of the same nightclubs in SL and kind of floated in overlapping circles of friends. Where I was quieter and a bit shy, he would send me messages to check up on me and see how I was doing. He would offer an ear and a shoulder when I needed to get something off my chest, and I knew he was good at being objectively neutral and offered unbiased opinions.

“Levi” and I had been hanging out with other friends as a group more often for a couple of months, sometimes getting together a group call on Skype as we goofed around in SL. It wasn’t uncommon for him to come to my DJ set, so I thought that night would be like any other one. I happily slurred on the microphone during my “talky bits” as I call my periodic speaking time on air, as my avatar danced in all her pirate-costumed garb, surrounded by virtual friends, acquaintances, and people I probably never even noticed. It was a good night. I had tunes, music, liquor, friends.

The confession above that I expected to be something so innocent and platonic, turned into something much more. It turned into the love of my life.

“Levi” confessed that he had felt extremely drawn to me and he just couldn’t hide it anymore. Normally he too might have had a lot harder time blurting it out, but he too had been drinking wine and sake. I thank my heavenly stars for the “liquid courage” that gave him the boost he needed to approach me in such a way. I admitted that I had vaguely entertained the idea of something more with him in the recent past, but because we had always been so platonic, that it felt a little weird. I was willing however to explore this thing and see how far it would go.

Aside from our increased time spent together in SL, we started text messaging each other frequently from our cell phones. We would send each other good morning, just thinking of you, and good night texts. He wrote me a short bedtime story in texts once. (Thank goodness for unlimited texting!) It wasn’t long before we transitioned to voice calls on Skype, and then webcam calls. Thankfully we had similar schedules, so we would hop onto SL and Skype as soon as we each got home from work, and spend all night there together.  Our weekends were filled with the same.

After awhile he said he wanted to watch over me as I fell asleep. He wanted hear the sound of my breathing as he too fell into slumber. He wanted to, quite literally, sleep with me. I set up my webcam on my monitor so that I could turn my monitor and my keyboard towards my bed, which was on my small desk that was smack dab against the edge of my bed. He took his laptop with built-in webcam to bed with him and placed it where I would someday sleep. We would turn off the lights and look at each other for a bit and then drift off to sleep. In the morning he was awake before I was, so I would often wake up to find him getting ready for work. He would come on cam and talk to me for a few minutes before he was out the door.

Two months later he got in his car and drove eleven hours straight, with one extremely short break, to see me. I reserved a room for him at the hotel attached to the casino in town (the only casino in town), and after I finished my shift at the casino. Employee discounts were nice to have. I got the keys and checked in, as he got slightly lost driving through town was delayed a few minutes.

My cell rang. “I’m here” he said. I directed him to his room from the phone and heard him talking to me as he arrived outside the door.

*knock knock*

I opened it and there he was. We smiled at each other, and he walked in, set his bag down and said “I’ve been waiting to do something…” and he hugged me tightly. We talked and snuggled for awhile, then went to my house for dinner. We went to see the movie “Scott Pilgrim” together that night – one that has remained a favorite ever since.

The next day, as if driving eleven hours wasn’t enough, he drove my mom and I four and a half hours to a family reunion. I joke now “If he was willing to drive eleven hours one day, four and a half the next day, and brave a family reunion for the girl he just met, it must be love.” But truly it’s anything but a joke.

I had three wonderful, but entirely-too-short days with “Levi”. He got in his car and headed for home. I learned later that after he left, we both cried. He told me how he listened to a song that made him think of me, over and over again in the car as he drove. I was back on Skype with him as soon as he got home.

I had been taking online college classes at the time, and when I set up my student loans I elected for any “extra” to be sent directly to me rather than applying it back to my student loan. I had never received a check, but thought nothing of it, assuming I had misunderstood how it worked. My job at the casino was only available part time, and made barely more than minimum wage. By December I wanted so badly to move to be with him. He lived in a state that I had been literally saying for years that I wanted to live in someday. It seemed like it was the perfect place for me, and now here was the perfect guy. But where would I get the money to move?

I was living with my folks at the time, and had little expenses. If I saved up everything I could, I reckoned I could maybe save up enough money to move in six months maybe. Argh, six whole months!

“But what if you don’t like it here?  You should see it first” Levi said. And so he bought me a plane ticket to visit near the end of January.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I received not one, but three envelopes in the mail from my school. “That’s odd” I thought as I opened them expecting to see multiple copies of the most recent account statement or something similar. Inside each envelope was a check for differing amounts, which totaled up to a couple of thousand dollars. I got on the phone with financial aid right away and spoke with an adviser who informed me that no, Accounting had not lost it’s mind, it was the payout I was supposed to have been receiving but didn’t. That they were playing “catch up”. “Have a Merry Christmas and buy lots of presents!” the adviser exclaimed as we hung up.

Merry Christmas indeed – I had the money I needed to move. I cried. It still moves me to tear up whenever I think about it. (Yes, now included.)

“Levi” and I were ecstatic. My mom was not as thrilled – but I think she learned long ago that I’m going to follow my heart with what I think is the right thing regardless of if it actually is or not. (It probably also doesn’t hurt that being age 31, her parental authority over me was legally over many years prior.)  So now I had a plane ticket to Washington in January, and money to move.  I’m not sure how I knew, but I felt that I whether or not I liked where my new home was to be, was not going to be an issue. I planned my move tentatively, to happen right after I returned from my visit with “Levi”.

During my visit I confirmed everything I had already suspected – this was where I was meant to live. A moving date was finalized, I packed all my things, and a week later my mom and baby sister and I hit the road in moms truck, with a UHaul trailer behind us.

This Thursday marks three years that “Cat-Man” and I have been together. We have what we absolutely feel is the happiest, healthiest, best relationship either of us has been in. Thursday will also officially mark the longest either of us has been in a relationship. I could gush about how wonderful he is, but I’d hate to make anyone reading this possibly wind up with a tooth ache from all the saccharine. We have talked a bit here and there about getting married someday. I don’t require a ceremony to know that he’s the one I want to spend my life with… though if and when he does ask The Question, I already know my answer.

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