The Last Place I Expected; The First Place I Looked
As Cat has mentioned in the post immediately preceding this one, some time ago the authors of Flavor Text were tagged by Rades and Cynwise to participate in the Sixth Meme making its rounds along the WoW blogosphere. Cat’s done hers, and though her post is a tough act to follow, I will gladly make my own attempt. Because I am far too lazy to organize my screenshots into subfolders, I simply picked the sixth picture currently in my screenshot folder.
The above picture was taken shortly after the launch of patch 4.2. It features myself, Catulla, and Perculia sporting the new pigtail hairstyles, tier 8 druid helms (or the lookalike, Unwavering Stare), and whatever costume we felt put forth our best Sailor Moon impression. Then we found a rooftop in Stormwind, danced, and giggled together over Ventrilo, joking about the game, our characters, our lives, and whatever else came to mind. Sadly missing from the above screenshot is our fourth Flavor Text member, Narci, woefully excluded from Stormwind shenanigans because her main is a tauren. Oh, my dear, how the false barriers of faction do come between us! Alas, our celebrations were the poorer for your absence.
I was surprised to find this picture as the sixth in my folder, and the moment I saw it, the precise memories of what I was doing at the time jumped straight to the forefront of my mind. I could tell you about how my poor connection lagged terribly that day in Stormwind with all the post-patch crowding on the realm and how I got turned around in the north alley of the Trade District trying to find the barber shop (I very, very rarely use it). I could tell you how we searched for the perfect spot to dance and take screenshots. I could even tell you that this shot is not my favorite from that day; that honor belongs to one Catulla took and features some random toon flying by in the background, an oddly floating Worg Pup in tow, because the “flying non-combat pet” bug had yet to be fixed for pets that weren’t supposed to fly. Random gliding doggie is still an in-joke that makes me grin, though I acknowledge its lack of meaning to anyone but myself.
It speaks to the power of imagery that my memory is jogged so well through this one little screenshot. In all honestly I could not have chosen a better picture for my Sixth Meme entry if I had sifted through every screenshot I’ve taken since 2007. The most important element of my experience with World of Warcraft is summed up right there: the community I’ve discovered as a result of the game. World of Warcraft, more than any single other activity or hobby I’ve ever had, has brought me some of the best and most treasured friends of my life. It’s opened my eyes to new possibilities in my career pursuits. It’s challenged me to flex my creative drive in ways I never dreamed I would. It’s made me a published author. It’s encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones. Through World of Warcraft communities I discovered modern thinking on social justice and I met many people from diverse backgrounds who have challenged my perceptions in ways I will forever appreciate. I do not wish to insinuate that I never could have developed these things without World of Warcraft, because I certainly hope that I would have, however it just so happens that in my life Warcraft was the medium through which these things came to me. Surely that is something special.
Right now I am going through one of the more difficult periods of my recent life. Family and personal issues only marginally within my control have finally reached a breaking point and the fallout from that has been exhausting, demanding, and draining. The effort required of me to confront these events and their causes has taken from me the time I might normally be spending losing myself in my hobbies, including WoW, however, the constant that remains is the people the game has brought into my life. Those folks have been here for me in the past few weeks, buoying my spirit and renewing my faith in ways I have desperately needed, even if only through a few sympathetic words or a silly kitten picture on Facebook. Life sometimes takes us through dark places, and often the light we rediscover while there is cradled in the hands of other people. One of my favorite quotes is from the book Contact, by Carl Sagan, and it sums up what I feel rather well:
“You’re an interesting species, an interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone. Only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable… is each other.”
Thank you, World of Warcraft, for giving me more of the each other.