What I will tell you breaks the routine of ejecting you from DDO and into the reality of now.
It’s about me. Not me playing or asking people to vote. Not me talking about mechanics, upcoming updates, horrible experienced and good/bad turns in this aging MMO.
It’s about me. Unvarnished reality pealing of any pretense I had of stability and I don’t know how to tell this – unless I also make it about DDO in parts and life in average.
I’ve been extraordinary fortunate in so many aspects of my life. Compared to others. Despite personal tragedies and happenstance. Like my first pre teen years. Watching my dad slide into alcoholism and how that broke our family part. Yet remember some of the greatest moments in my life with everlasting fondness – shaped by us going to staying the entire summer at my grandparents cabin without indoor plumbing and electricity. Good sweet late 70’s and early 80’s.
Fishing, exploring, sensing, feeling and observing. When you strip all our distractions away there are entire worlds around us screaming for attention.
What I will list now might seem awful compressive. Or even weirdly odd in correlation. Abstract even. Maybe even dysfunctional – but I will tell you a secret. The true notion of despair and hope is to find that one thing – that kernel of moment that strips away depression, hopelessness and anguish.
My dads alcoholism because a distant threat of discord with the many months exploring woods, fishing and sitting bored under a screened in porch waiting for the rain to stop.
My moms breast cancer became a adolescent hurdle that propelled me from immaturity to instant young adulthood. Her death; shattering my fragile hope of redeeming the best part of our family – where my sister fled the situation at 16, leaving me alone as my dad struggled to take the trips to the far off University town to see my mom. Until she died. He came on the very same day I entered winter break, nursing a bottle of bathing salt for my mom so when she came home over Christmas she could enjoy a hot relaxing bath and the fragrance I had picked out, out of many choices. Lilac I do believe.
He looked at me and I knew what he was about to tell me; what I’ve always known he would tell me but purged out of the center of my grief to never give into the deep melancholy of being an isolated nerd. ‘Mom is dead’.
I can tell you what happened after that, but it’s not dissimilar from anyone elses experience. But what remains with me from those days is that when I saw her coffin in church, all I could think about was how tiny it was.
And so – the best person in the world. The kindess person in the world. One that knew my tender heart, my fears when my dad got drunk. The one who protected me in our apartments small bathroom when dad was outside beating a fist sized hole in the wall – were gone.
Even to this day I get a solid painful lump in my throat thinking about it and the horizon of my eyes glistens with held back tears.
My dad did get sober. He had to. But my teenage years ended up being a lost chapter in a way that have shaped my future. Luckily, that all changed when I was about 17 and I met a bunch of guys into roll playing games. Pen and paper and also the first computer game on my future 8086, Pool of Radiance.
These years were divine, however fleeting. Playing almost every day and weekend. A large bunch of nerds called the ‘Black Ducks’. First we joined every nearby gathering. Winning top position in many different pen and paper roll playing events. And finally helped host local ones as well as DM larger.
Until college split us apart as well as compulsory Military Service. Once we tried to come back together again – years later – the core group was split and people lived all over Sweden and some started getting into serious relationships.
I left in 1999 – I was studying Contemporary History at the time. I loved it. It married philosophy with movement history. But once I got hooked on the cheap and extensive University network that allowed me to strike out in the emerging and expanding internet – I met a person in USA (online) that would eventually cause me to drop everything, give into an impulse stronger than self-preservation (love) and move to Illinois.
I’m not going to bore you with ‘regular Joe life and kids’. From 1999 until the tail end of 2014 things were just fine. Other then the regular bump in the road and two teen age step sons (and one daughter getting awfully close) life was mundane, steady and unusual.
Things changed somewhat with my sons leaving the house. One after one they all struck out own their own, leaving a fairly empty house with 4 bed rooms and 3 baths. And a big yard that was left undone since I didn’t have time and mental fortitude and the work the boys always did, lingered on for weeks. The summer of 2015 felt just like that – we planted some flowers and did the lawn now and then, but the weeds grew thick here and there and I just plowed through it in a haze.
Then a mild winter followed a regular spring after that and a hot long summer with regular rain and a lot of humidity. And the weeds grew thicker.
I tried to maintain it, but I was Monday to Friday with a short weekend that felt like someone slapped me in the face with it and it was over. There was also things brewing in paradise as the realization that we could no longer afford to maintain a house and the mortgage payment and everything felt like a trap.
Until November 4th.
I’m sure we all remember some dates. Like 9/11. I sat there watching the TV in our old townhouse – about to leave for work and I watched it as it happened. I called my wife, working at the local bank and explain to her what was going on.
November 4th followed a dreadful November 1st. I sat through hearing my coworker getting fired early on in the morning. 2 days later after some real life unrelated drama, I had to sit through it myself. I already knew it was happening. I got the meeting invite scheduled for 9AM that day – the same as my coworker got 2 days earlier.
I tried to contact my remote manager but she refused to answer. I don’t blame her. This was out of her hands and she already had to deal with the fact that her old team was breaking apart, knowing how their lives would be impacted from it.
It’s hard to fool me. It’s much a curse as it is a benefit to me. And those 2 hours early in the morning were agonizing. I cleaned out my desk. Stuffed 13 years of memories and experiences in 4 plastic bags. And once I was done with that, rolled my thumbs for 30 more minutes before finding an empty office to séance the final breath of my career with that company.
I did it for a few reasons; maybe save my face from having others hear my voice as it waivered. But also so my last coworker in the office; the survivor of the purge, didn’t have to suffer the indignity of trying to ignore what transpired.
My boss was in pieces and I told her it was okay. The HR lady tried to give me the corporate spiel about ‘just business and realignment’ and I cut her short and asked her to please just cut to the paperwork portion and anything I had to sign etc. She was frustrated and tried to regain poise, but it was clear that I had interrupted her prepared speech she had given so many before me.
In the end the convulsive blood loss for my former company is probably going to be as large as it was back in 2007-2008 when it was tethering on the brink of bankruptcy. I survived those days; when I was hauled in early in the morning with the only other survivor and we were told that the axe was coming down. And we had to sit there as the others came in, was marched into the office where the same person who told us we had survived, let each and one of them go.
My manager and 2 others vanished into the mist that day. I think it was around the same timeframe as I’m now in. Before Thanksgiving and Christmas in the most horrifying moment of my life.
I’m not going to bore you with realities here. It’s probably familiar to some. But one consequence of it all, is the immediate cancelling of my VIP sub on mine and my wife’s account. It runs out in the end of December and after that It’s probably going to be the end of an era.
I remember being 15-16 years old driving out to my grandparents old Cabin. My mom was dead and shortly thereafter my granddad died from stomach cancer. Maybe a year later. My grandmother wasn’t there. The wind struck a cord through a memory filled era of the minds echoing labyrinths.
The empty spot where my uncle used to park his RV so they could spend a few weeks per summer with me. I loved that time.
The 2 cabins – the main now shuttered as my grandmother didn’t have the time and strength to be there as often and the smaller, that my dad built so we could spend time there. Time; just a few short years later had robbed this place of so much life.
I took the row boat out for a final homage to my fishing days. I sat out there in my favorite spot where I used to fish for bass and northern pike. I really didn’t catch much because it was the wrong time of day and the lake was a little bit to rough. But I sat there and watched the lakefront of the cabin and realized that it was now robbed of all vitality and this was the final day of a gone era.
I had grown up. Way to fast after my moms death and it felt like the magic time that had sustained me when it got rough with my dads drinking and my parents fighting was done giving me strength.
Whatever forces that had gathered to give me that bright light in the end of the tunnel had now drained from the area and I was alone to find new ways to make each dark moment something special.
And so there I was. Outside the office. The sun chasing away frozen shadows – close to 10AM and I was sitting down in my car, watching the façade of the office I had worked in for 13 years a final time, before driving away.
I know every bend and every outlet. I know the rough spots and the newly maintained. I know the radio shows that plays at what time and now when I woke up this morning I didn’t have to plow the headlights through the early morning dark as the days grow shorter.
I could wake up, take my daughter to school. And realize that I don’t have the magic of that fishing trip to allow me to transition my childhood to unknown adulthood.
The scary part about adult life is that you can’t take a summer to find yourself again. You have to constantly re-find every lost moment and reel back and forth until you find stable ground.
Now Monday, the worst day in a workday have become the first day when I’m not. A day of dread. And not for how quick it bridged the weekend, but how complicated each day will be from now.
DDO might be over for me. Not because it finally broke me and I felt that I had that final glance from the lake. But because I never got there and never experienced that. Because I never got to say farewell and couldn’t escape reality by so effortlessly walk down to my den and turn my computer on.
Now my computer is an ever reminding tool of having to find another good job. It’s work now. Or rather a search for work. I always thought that my life was to watch myself gray and wrinkle while weekends flew by.
Now my life is reinventing when I last wanted or expected it. And I still feel like I’m to old for this shit.