It’s 1:24AM. I have been playing StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for the good part of my day. Make that 12 hours now, and counting. Been playing with my former guildies from Ragnarok Online back in 2002. Wow, we’ve been friends for eight years now?! Man, does time fly…
When the Internet started booming back in the late ’90s (make that 1997 here in Manila since the very first Internet cafe opened then and I was a regular patron), meeting and cultivating friendships online was looked upon with a wary eye. Anybody can be anyone. Ever heard the song “Santa Monica” by Savage Garden? Well, many did pose as people who they weren’t, but that “craze” died out after people got tired of not being themselves.
Amidst all those people who should be avoided like the plague, a few gems stood out, and with them, I was able to cultivate wonderful and lasting friendships. I am referring to good friends from my former guild in Ragnarok, a massively multi-player online game. We started out as casual friends, guildmates, or partymates. We enjoyed each other’s companies online that we started to look forward to seeing them and chatting with them every single day. We became an online family.
When I joined the Twilight Council, no one knew me at all. Yet everyone was very friendly, included me in their conversations, and teased and confided in me like I was one one them ever since. That was the culture of our guild. So, when we got new members, I, in turn, extended my arms to them and made sure to pay the kindness forward to the newbies. I cared for this family of mine very much.
I would wake up everyday with a smile, wondering who’s online and what fun with them that day would bring. I would log on, and greet them all a really loud and cheery good morning/afternoon/night (whatever time I would wake up). I am one of the really “noisy” people in chat… though it’s hard to say I’m an outlier since all of us were really noisy and chatty.
Worthy of note are four people in this group who have touched my life and have been around ’til today. These are the people I really cherish.
Chocs was my mami-pao. She called me her baby-pao. She’s such a delightful character. So funny and quick-witted and sharp. We would go on adventures, just the two of us, killing dangerous anolians deep in a marshy forest… all the while, chatting and laughing hysterically at our folly. We always fell victim to “chat kill”… it means getting killed in action coz you’re too busy typing and you didn’t see Godzilla regurgitate you without blinking and use your femur as a toothpick.
Angelo was the sleazy priest. Well, his in-game profession was a full-support priest, but that didn’t stop him on hitting on any female character he met (whether they are really women, or a guy in the pixels of a woman). Despite the gigolo-ish facade, he loved his girlfriend and only stuck to one. They have been together until this year. Last I heard, they broke up, but then I have a good feeling they will get back together again, if not yet. Angelo never let up on the flirting, but I already accepted him to be that way. He always got my back whenever we would go killing baddies and bosses. I trusted my online life expectancy to his healing and buffs and Kyrie Eleison. He also gave me his Heroes of Newerth account and access to his email and game accounts (so I can use them whenever I want) even if I didn’t ask for them… and that display of trust is something a person like me pays back tenfold.
Macky was the head of our family. He was our guild master. When I got invited into the guild, he and the other guild members greeted me with open arms and made me feel right at home. He was our gentle-handed disciplinarian. He was very kind to all of us, and quite funny at times, but when somebody did something wrong, that person really felt guilty even if Macky doesn’t show any visible anger. We did not fear him… we respected him – thus it’s harder to disappoint him. Most of us ran to him when we had troubles. He always sincerely listened and gave meaningful advice. This year, during one of my darkest times in life, he helped me through by being there for me. He talked to me everyday and checked on my progress over the weeks and months. He let me vent, cry, and not once did I hear him complain about my being a basket case. Him being a Psych grad didn’t hurt as well.
Nix became my friend before I got into Twilight Council. We started out as partymates. I was whacking away at zombies with a flimsy club, he was there, he was bored, he offered to help me out. He didn’t even believe I was female early on. Our first meeting was at Alabang Town Center when I had a figure modeling event there. It was so funny how we kept trailing each other inside a toy shop, going in circles, wondering if we should say hi, or if we are, indeed, the person we’re supposed to be meeting. He got into TC later on. Can’t remember how… just that he wanted to be in the same guild as I was. This guys stuck with me through all the years we have know each other… even if I haven’t been the best friend to him. He has surprised me by his kindness and patience in more times than I could ever count… most of the time, having to do with my inconsideration towards him. He’d visit me from Laguna just to bring me cake, or some videos, or some games… sometimes not to find me at home, when I said I will be. He posed as my date on occasions when I tried to drive some guy I don’t like away. He was always there to run to when I felt like cutting my wrists. He introduced me to his friends and incorporated me into his life. They too, welcomed me like I was Nix himself.
People like these are keepers. I’m so blessed having them in my life… more blessed because they are still in my life even if I’m not type who keeps connections with people. They have been around and have made me feel their presence and reached out, because they are truly my friends and treasure me in their life too. For this, I will always be grateful.