Virtual

The spring after Will died I spent a lot of time playing The Sims. In retrospect it wasn’t as mindless as it probably seemed at the time. In my little virtual reality, I had control over everything. Nothing happened without my consent and I could manipulate circumstances to have everything just the way I wanted it. Therapeutic? Professionals might not think so but as I played I slowly got tired of being in charge of everything and the lack of surprise and spontaneity and was soon just constructing my little worlds and letting the Sims run amuck in it.

There is an interactive version of sorts of the Sims called Second Life on the web now. You can build a doppelganger and hang out in cyber-realities like the crew on the Enterprise would with their holo-deck. Okay, not that “real” but I have been thinking lately about my on-line connections in terms of real or not. It was prompted by a comment that my friend Murphy made on our mommy message board the other day. She mentioned the fact that we had been “talking” with each other for eight years this coming February. Though some of the other members of our group have met in person, I haven’t met a single one. I haven’t even spoken on the phone with anyone other than Christie and that was years ago when Will first got very sick and Katy was just a baby. She twangs. A southern girl who has moved more times than I can count and fearlessly pursues her dreams from the perfect mode of employment to the best locale. I admire that about her because I am not that way at all. But aside from pictures and posts, I don’t know her like I know my best friend, Vicki or my new friend, Char. There is something about face time and body language and seeing someone in their element.

But still, Christie and Murphy and the others are my friends. We went through infertility, IVF (some of us), pregnancy/adoption, nursing, weaning, potty-training. They were there during the early days of Will’s illness when I didn’t know it was physical and was tearing my hair out – virtually – not knowing what to do. Eight years and a lot of life has been shared.

I think about my blogging friends and acquaintances too. Rob and I are acquainted with a law student in New York City who goes by the name of Pulp. He probably isn’t much older than Farron and I wouldn’t know him from a hole in the wall if I were to walk by him on the street. But he counts. I know people all over. There is Rick the rabid Republican who blogs at the Register and stubbornly refuses to except that he is wrong about climate change (he is a flat-worlder in that respect). Barb and Ali are in Australia. I got my initial dating advice from Jim and Martin in Great Britain. Tanja is my larger than life Dutch friend in Arizona. I have friends all over Canada. Sally, Heather and her sister Karen, Cheryl – who came to our wedding. I know a lot of teachers. Murphy is an economics professor in the SF Bay area. Marsha teaches somewhere in Illinois and Andrea is down in Texas. Tanja will likely be in NYC come the next school year. I met a White House correspondent ala West Wing who is now blogging in Iraq somewhere. Janet is in Idaho. Liz and Candy share a place in Arizona and date biker/musicians up in the mountains at their leisure. A recent Facebook friend has a successful pod-cast that she sells on iTunes. And I know more widowed people than I can shake a stick at.

Alicia, a widow acquaintance, and I had a short exchange on yesterday’s blog about our “relationship” and though it is not friends, it is not strangers either. We know more about each other than many people who we likely interact with on a real and regular basis. How is that? It’s a puzzlement, as the King would say. What defines a relationship? When does it stop being acquaintance? And does that mean friendship? I think not because that is a mutual consent thing but I don’t remember asking anyone to be my friend ever. In some cases I just presumed and was not rebuffed when I did so, but in many instances it seems to be unspoken but mutually understood.

So what has prompted this ramble? Moving. Again. I am finally settling in here and at the same time am getting ready to travel to Texas for an extended stay. Though not to put down roots because the idea of fire ants, alligators, humidity, hurricanes and endless expanses of concrete can’t compete with the sky here, which I will miss terribly, or the space and the dry air. And I like the people. It has been easier to fit in here than in any place I have ever been. I am not sure if that is Canada or me however.

I am psyched for Texas. Really, I am. But while I didn’t really feel as though I was leaving home when I sold the place in Des Moines and came north. I can’t say the same thing about returning.

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